Traveling through the lush green mountain valley of the Nepal Himalayas, we made the journey through remote areas of Tibet towards the site of our Yatra. Although much of the journey to and through Tibet proved to be arduous with narrow mountain passages, bumpy unpaved roads, and the increasing altitude, I was blown away by the immense landforms and variegated landscape that surrounded us. After arrival to high-altitude freshwater holy Lake Manasarovar, we performed a morning Havan Puja on the banks of the sparkling lake, with Mount Kailash visible in the distance. Upon leaving Manasarovar, we passed high-altitude saltwater lake Rakshastal, known for its demon mythology. Also notable along the way to Kailash were the many domestic shaggy dogs running wild through the mountainous region.
The time finally approached to begin the first leg of Parikrama around Kailash. On the first day, we made the 6-7 hour trek to Dehara Puk, hiking along the Ganges River towards Kailash and adjusting to the biting cold and altitude. Along the way, I was amazed as we encountered quite a few people doing Kora and completing the entire 32-mile Yatra by getting into the Namaskar position and laying prostrate on the ground, getting back up, and repeating. After the trek for that day was over, we stayed overnight in a guesthouse overlooking Kailash, still getting used to the lack of heating and plumbing. On the next day, we began our hike up to Kailash Charansprash, where we scaled up the rocky mountainside to the highest elevation of the Parikrama at 21,000 ft. We hiked for about 8-9 hours; I was beyond exhausted; but along with the faith and conviction that I felt, some indescribable force propelled me forward.
On the third day of the Parikrama, we continued onwards for about 12 hours to Dolma-La Pass, hiking up and down through jagged terrain and between two valleys. In the first couple of hours, most of us traveled on horseback up the cliffside with assistance from the local horsemen. Although the horses were slipping on the packed snow and black ice and we were on the edge of a steep, rocky cliff, I felt the same sense of calm as I did on the rest of the Parikrama, trusting my horse, and letting myself immerse in my surroundings. Once at the top, I disembarked and hiked approximately 10 more hours on foot, passing Gauri Kund on the way, awed by the its emerald green waters. After completing the tiring 12-hour trek, I was hit by a sudden unexplainable surge of energy that carried me through to the final day.
On the last day of Parikrama, I completed the trek of over 30 miles, passing large, majestic yak along the way, and I was once again overwhelmed by the incredible landscape. I looked at the familiar faces of the staff guides who were alongside us and it made me smile, as I felt impacted and inspired by them in such a short time—this selfless group of individuals that was there for us every step of the way. At the same time, there still aren’t any words to describe the magnetism of the place and the charged feeling that had been ignited within; although I started this trip with no expectations, I was leaving with a stirring of the mind, body, and soul that I carried with me as we headed back towards Nepal onwards.
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