Saturday, October 3, 2009

Parikrama around Kailash

Finally the big day dawned. We were to commence our "Parikrama" around Kailash. This is also known as the "Kora" (parikarama) around "Khang Rinpoche". Tibetans call Kailash as "Khang Rinpoche".

We were undertaking the outer parikrama which is a circumabulation around Kailash. We would be doing this parikrama in a clockwise direction. All Hindus, Buddhists and Jains follow this path. Tibetans Bons, an indigenous religion, do the Kora in an anti-clockwise direction.

One can also attempt an inner parikrama. This, I believe is tougher and stretches you to the extreme. It is believed that one may attempt the inner parikrama only after completing the outer parikrama thirteen times. The inner parikrama is to go ahead of Serlung Gompa and circumabulate the Nandi Parbat.

We set out from Darchen towards Tarboche a few kilometres further ahead to reach the starting point - The Yama Dwar. This is a stupa with a doorway in between. We were supposed to enter from this "Dwar" get out the other side and come back to the starting point. We had to do this three times before we commenced our holy journey.

Yama instantly conjures up images of death and I was curious to know whether this process was to eliminate the fear of death or open the door to death. It was hilarious to know our thoughts and fears. I learned that, with this, you take blessings from Lord Yama and leave the fear of death behind. Further, it also means that you have now entered the Kailash zone.

Just beside the Yama Dwar, is a raised mound on which are placed many stone tablets with holy inscriptions. We could recognise the holy Tibetan mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum..." written in the Tibetan script. There is a lot in common between our Devanagari and the Tibetan script.

A few hundred metres and there was a small gathering and a lot of animated discussions going on. There were many ponies and yaks. Our provisions and other stuff was being packed and loaded on yaks and the ponies were now in smaller groups for those yatris who would ride on them. Porters were allotted to various yatris through a draw of lots.

The porters were young ladies, probably in their late twenties or early thirties. Some of them lugged their children along. These young kids must have been between eight - twelve years but they were store houses of energy. I have seen them walk the entire stretch without a whimper and constantly chattering on the way. I suddenly felt very inferior to these small imps. A regular supply of chocolates, dry fruits and other goodies and these kids were your best friends. Communication was through sign language and a few broken words in Hindi.

The first day of the parikrama was from Tarboche to Diraphuk, about 14 kms away and mostly on flat land. We started at around 10.30 am and it was sunny and breezy. It was a pleasant walk with a small stream on the side for company almost through the entire distance. However, things began to get hot towards the afternoon and we had to shed weight. Out came the jackets and the muffler. It was getting hotter and though the atmosphere was dry, we were drenched in sweat and my thermal inners were dripping wet. There is not a single tree on this stretch and any halt has to be under the sun. Our water and juice supplies were consumed and the last few kilometres were a drag.

Lessons learned....hire a porter and let him carry the back pack. Do not over pad yourselves as we have to shed many layers as the sun rises further. Walk light and carry a light camera.

I had to literally drag myself over the last kilometre as the guest house appeared close but after every hill corner crossed we had to walk futher and cross another slope. Finally, I made it to a decent guesthouse next to a gushing stream and at the foothills of the northern face of Kailash. It was around 4 pm and on arrival had a cup of hot tea thrust in front of me. Thanked GOD profusely for giving us mere mortals the Sherpas. Without them we would have been "goners."

High velocity winds blew and my wet thermals and socks dried in an hour or so. If you have the energy, you could walk around and explore the surroundings. The Diraphuk Gompa is just across the stream and worth a visit. I must admit that I proved unequal to this and decided to move around the guest house, spread cheer and celebrate the successful completion of Day One of our parikrama.


Vinod_Sharma said...

The excitement is is as if we too are doing the parikrama with you - free and without getting tired!

Gopinath Mavinkurve said...

Wow! A wonderful account of your journey described beautifully, it seems we are with you, as Vinod has already said. Great potential to be made into a travel book really!

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