Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
To the Hindus, the Himalayas are central to their cosmology. The peaks are the petals of the Golden Lotus which lord Vishnu created as a first step in the formation of the universe. On one of these peaks – Mount Kailash, sits Shiva in a state of perpetual meditation, generating the spiritaul force that sustains the cosmos. The ancient text, Rigveda has a mention of the Himalayas, their formation and sacredness. The most sacred peak in the Himalayan range, Mount Kailash, is said to have been formed 30 million years ago during the early stages of the formation of the Himalayan chain. According to the Jains, at the dawn of history their first law giver, Rishabhdev attained Nirvana on Mount Kailash. Mount Kailash is situated in Tibet where it is given the dignified title of ‘Kang Rampoche’ meaning ‘Precious Jewel’. Near Mount Kailash, during the geological shift in the initial statges of the formation of the Himalayan mountain chain four rivers arose from the area, flowing in four different directions : the Indus flowed north, the Karnali south, the Yarlung Tsangpo flowed east and Sutlej travelled west.People have been visiting Kailas – Mansarovar for centuries. Almost all the major passes of Uttarakhand lead to Kailas-Mansarovar. Because of the Indo-chinese border dispute, Indians were not allowed to visit Kailas – Mansarovar for nearly two decades. However, since 1981, under the auspices of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and with the cooperation of the Chinese Government, Kumaun Mandal Vikas Nigam has been conducting trips to Kailas- Mansarovar through the Lipulekh pass. Even though only a limited number of people are allowed to visit Kailas – Mansarovar today, the very fact that the trips have been resumed raises hopes that, in the near future, more Indian pilgrims will be allowed to visit Western Tibet, the region of sacred mountains and lakes. It is because of Kailas – Mansarovar, which is 865 Kilomet. from Delhi, that Kumaon is sometimes called ‘Manaskhand’. Many of our myths are associated with this unusual mountain and lake. The Buddhists, the Jains and the Bonpas of Tibet too, consider this abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati and the lake born from the mind of Brahma to be a sacred place.Therefore, it is not surprising that one often comes across Om Mani Padme Hum (hail to the Jewel (of creation)”There are no mountains like the Himalaya, for in them are Kailas and Mansarovar. As the dew is dried up by the morning Sun, so are the sins of mankind dried up by the sight of the Himalaya.”-Skanda Puranin the lotus) written on stones (the Buddhists), people making anti-clockwise pilgrimage around Mt. Kailas (the Bonpas) or a few ones specially visiting Astpaad near the southern face of Kailas, (the Jains) in the Kailas – Mansarovar region.One has to walk 53 Km to go around the Mount Kailas ( 6675 m ), which is also known as the centre of the universe in the Hindu Puranas and the Buddhist texts , Astpaad in Jain texts and Yungdruk Gu Tseg ( nine storey Swastika Mountain) in Bonpa tradition. Its highest point is Polmapass at 19000 feet (4515 mtrs). South of Mount Kailas are Rakastal (4515 m), Mansarovar (4530 m), and further south the peaks of Gurla Mandhata (7683m). The circumference of Mansarovar is 90 Km, its depth is 90 m and total area is 320 Sq. Km.The lake freezes in the winters and melts only in spring. It looks unbelievably fascinating on moonlit nights. The circumference of Rakastal , also known as Ravan Hrid, is 22 Km from the corner of which originates the Sutlej river. A 6 Km long channel -Gangachhu- connects Manas with Rakastal. From Tanakpur or Kathgodam one can reach Kailas- Mansarovar via Dharchula – Tawaghat – Lipulekh Darma and Johar valleys.However, at present one can go only through the route chosen by the two governments, and join the pilgrimage conducted by the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (Indian Territory) and Tourist Co. of Ali (in Tibet), from June to September, after one has completed all formalities.