Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Second Acclimatising Trek

The second day at Darchen was meant to push ourselves a little further and acclimatise ourselves to heights above 5000 mtrs (above 16,500 feet).

We were to go further up and visit Serlung Gompa and climb upto Nandi Parbat. This is uncanny. Nandi Parbat is a small rock hillock that squats opposite Kailsh. Infact, this hillock almost touches the base of Kailash. It looks so much like "Nandi" the bull in a Shiva temple. The folklore and stories from yore associated with this place must be having an element of truth.

This is also the place where Bhagwan Rishabdev, Jain tirthankar, walked up along with his ascetic disciples towards salvation and is known as "Ashtapad". The exact spot seems hazy and many believe that it was Mt Kailash itself.

Thanks to our 4 wheel drive jeeps, we passed through some very steep ascents on very narrow paths and the some very rough terrain over small boulders and streams. Finally, we reached a clear flat spot where the jeeps would halt and then onwards it was us all the way.

The Serlung Gompa was to our left and Nandi Parbat straight ahead up there. Our sherpas advised that we complete the climb and complete our Kailash and Nandi Parbat "darshan" and we could go to the Gompa on our way back.

We had a steep climb up almost 500 metres up and upto a point where we could get some fabulous view of both Kailash and Nandi. As we reached the the top, we had a spectacular view of Nandi Parbat but Kailash was hidden behind clouds. This was the closest we would ever get to Kailash but the clouds were adamant. They seemed hell bent on denying us our "darshan". Our prayers went unanswered and inspite of stiff breeze blowing up through the valley, our white cover refused to unfold. We were up there for about forty odd minutes and we had to return disappointed.

Finally, we bowed down and commenced our journey towards the Serlung Gompa. This Gompa has a beautiful idol of "Guru Rinpoche" also known as Padmasambhava. Guru Rinpoche is credited with the introduction and spread of Buddhism in Tibet. For more on Guru Rinpoche you may refer to The Lotus Born or this Wiki post.

I offered my prayers, lit a diya and meditated in the inner sanctum sanctorum. I was not in a hurry to move away. Actually, I had spent just about twenty minutes here. That small dark room seemed so peaceful and time seemed to stand still. All the disappointment of not getting "Kailash Darshan" seemed to melt away and there was nothing else that mattered.

Slowly we moved through the gompa to the exit door. As soon I was out, a stunning sight greeted us. There was Kailash standing tall in all glory and the clouds seemed to have beat a hasty retreat. It struck all of us at the same time and some one remarked that we should have first visited the gompa and prayed there before we proceeded to Kailash. Was it just a co-incidence or was there some message? I will not speculate and believe that a moment spent in prayer and contemplation cleared all the clouds...literally and symbolically.

After a beautiful darshan, it was time to descend and make our way back to Darchen. The trek was not very strenuous but we were not very fit. I was breathless most of the time and it required much effort and will to go through my paces. I was determined to complete the trek and had complete faith that this would happen inspite of my breathlessness.

After some rest we bagan packing. Much of the stuff has to be left behind at Darchen and we have to carry just what we needed for the parikrama with us. This meant hard logic and ruthless pruning down. Realised that 80% of the stuff was not required and we just carried the bare essentials.

The next day would see us drive down to Tarboche - the starting point of our parikrama.


Vinod_Sharma said...

Brave man you are. And faith does move Kailash!

On a slightly different note, has Nehru not been a atheist, perhaps India could have laid a bigger claim to Tibet than China.

Krishnan said...

Glued to your posts, Mavin. BTW, what brand of camera you used and model ?

sm said...

thanks for sharing the experience.

Anonymous said...

According to me, the real strength to carry on and complete the parikrama on foot, in spite of becoming breathless came from the prayer and meditation of a few minutes and of course because of your grit and determination to reach the destination. Very inspiring yatra, must tell you. Looking forward for the rest of the journey!!