Monday, September 21, 2009

Exploring Mansarovar and onward to Darchen

The guest house at Chu-Gompa/Mansarovar is very basic. Just four mud walls and a roof and five beds to a room. The walls were covered by a bright printed cloth to make the room look cheerful. Yet, and strangely enough, it seemed so comfortable as if it was our own home. By now all yatris had become friendly and a special bonding had developed. All most everything under the sun from philosophy, religion, spirituality, politics, history, culture, education, health, travel, treks....were discussion topics. This also helped us to divert our mind from dwelling too much on the parikrama that would begin in two days.

That evening, we took a long walk on the banks of the Mansarovar. It begins to cool down in the evenings and a stiff wind starts blowing. It is not cold but the wind makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Our Russian friends were in the water and enjoying themselves. We decided to postpone this adventure to the morrow.

The next day after breakfast we were ready to travel along the banks of the lake to another monastery. The Gotuk Gompa lies about 15 kms away and is at a height of about 200 metres nestled amongst rocks. A small but well maintained monastery and a small group of lamas there. This Gompa is also "green". Equipped with a solar panel they generate their requirements of electricity and have no external connection for power supply. We prayed and lit "diyas" which used yak butter instead of oil.

There were eight gompas around the lake and all were completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Only five have been re-built.

Viewed from a height, the vast expanse of the lake looks beautiful and a gentle breeze blew across made the hot morning a little pleasant.

The next stop was the Rakshas Tal, another huge lake adjoining Mansarovar. (Please see Google Earth. Co-ordinates: 30deg39.23N and 81deg09E and onwards to the east lie both these large waterbodies). Both these lakes are visible even from a height 5000 kms. Rakshas Tal is associated with Ravana and pilgrims do not spend much time at this lake. Bathing in this lake is considered inauspicios and a strict no-no. The Sherpas and locals will advise you not to do that. RT is little unique in the sense there are two small islands in the lake, Topserma and Lachato.

Incidentally, Rakshas Tal is the origin of Sutlej and Karnali, a major tributary of Ganga later across the border.

It was time to go back to Mansarovar for our holy bath and some puja. The water was cold but we set out taking each step tentatively. I spent almost fifteen minutes in there much beyond what I thought was my endurance. I stepped out cleansed, lighter and, perhaps, with a clean slate as all my "sins" should have been washed away. We then went to our dining-cum-meditation-cum-satsang hall for the puja. Our yatris from Trichy had come prepared and we had puja and a satsang.

Having expressed our gratefulness, it was time for lunch and soon it was time to move towards Darchen - literally the base camp before the parikrama. You have to give it to the Chinese for some amazing and hilarious names. Our place of stay was called the Darchen Alleviation of Poverty Hotel. Now you see....we also contribute to removal of poverty in Tibet. A leisurely evening and a walk around Darchen and we retired to our rooms for one more of our lively sessions.

The next day, we had planned an acclimatising trek to Nandi Parbat and the Serlung Monastery. That was the nearest we got to Kailash till then.


7 comments:

Vinod_Sharma said...

This is turning out to be an adventure story better than Tintin in Tibet!

Krishnan said...

Riveting read Mavin, you got to compile all these posts into a single PDF document. It will surely be of great benefit.

toots said...

Namasthe Anil bhai

Thak you so much for such a wonderful blog. I did not realise that you are such a great author.What a great journey we went on.My family cannot wait for the rest. Thank you for your great company on the yatra. We twelve yatris were chosen by Lord Shiva to do the yatra. I cannot wait for you to finish your writing.

WE DID IT WOW. WHEN WILL YOU COMPLETE THE BLOG.

Reading your blog takes me back to Mt Kailash.

LAKSHMI (SOUTH AFRICA

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Priyank said...

zakaas! Congratulations! :)

Gopinath Mavinkurve said...

Publish a travel book, Mavin!

JessietJXI said...

Namasthe Anil bhai Thak you so much for such a wonderful blog. I did not realise that you are such a great author.What a great journey we went on.My family cannot wait for the rest. Thank you for your great company on the yatra. We twelve yatris were chosen by Lord Shiva to do the yatra. I cannot wait for you to finish your writing. WE DID IT WOW. WHEN WILL YOU COMPLETE THE BLOG. Reading your blog takes me back to Mt Kailash. LAKSHMI (SOUTH AFRICA