"Full many a ray of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness to the desert air."
from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kailash 2010 Day 11 : Going back to Chiu Gompa, Monday, July 05, 2010

Today was the third and last day of the trek around Kailash. This is the day of most contentment in the whole fifteen-day trip, if the trek has gone well. We had immersed ourselves in the Manas Sarovar lake, we had seen all the faces of Kailash, and today the cars were 8 km away, and an hour's drive beyond was Chiu Gompa with the panoramic views of the lake and the mountains.

Relatively tame third day of the trek around Kailash
Swami Jaganmitra (at right in the picture) sang bhajans, and at some point my hatted pony driver and others tried to join along. Swamiji started a sing-along, he would sing a line that the crowd would repeat.

We went on and on with Jai Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram, and the like. The Tibetans thoroughly enjoyed the singing, and all this was interspersed with the universal chant - "Aum Namah Shivaaya".

Spectacular scenery once again as my sinner horsie took me through some hair-raising bends in the mountains. Merciful death if the pony slipped and my head hits a rock with the right force at the right angle, far worse and far more probable to break multiple bones, but ponies don't slip as a rule, they just like to walk on the edge.
Ponies walk along the edge of a steep slope

Buddhist shrines along the way

On the way were Buddhist shrines with each rock inscribed with mantras.

Finally, we could see the lake Manas Sarovar in the far distance.

We had to walk the last steep stretch up and down the mountains. The horses walked alongside, relieved to be walking without riders, see beautiful picture of a pony below from Jayanthi's collection. The end of the Kailash parikrama was near now. At the end, we would find our cars to take us to Chiu Gompa.

Relieved pony walking alongside travelers on steep slopes

Travelers getting off the ponies for the steep climb

Beautiful pony driver couple, happy under tough circumstances
Ushaji and I had discussed what we wanted to give our porters. Without Pema, this trek would have been extremely challenging for me. He was modest and humble for the immense service he had provided.

My pony driver looked very thrilled with the tip he received. All these three days, he has been walking with his lady love, leading my pony and Ushaji's pony.

Every once in a while, they would get all lovey-dovey, come close and hold hands, causing Ushaji's and my horse to crash into one another. After a couple of collisions on narrow ledges, Ushaji had shouted to get their attention and hand-motioned to the young lovers to separate before their love took our lives. They did, and Ushaji and I were able to complete our last stretch of horse-riding without further collision.

When we finally got off to get into cars, my pony driver willingly posed for a picture with his girlfriend, even asking her to remove her face mask - beautiful couple, happy in hardship.

Swamiji trying to take a group picture

Group picture

People danced to celebrate the successful end of the trip. Swamiji was sitting on top of a parked truck trying to get the whole group in one picture. For me, the thrill of the parikrama is over, I need to understand next steps to get excited. I slinked back to my car after the group picture. The group pictures above are from Yoganand's collection.

Golden ducks at Manas Sarovar
Back at Chiu Gompa, we went for the second dip in Manas Sarovar. On the way we saw some golden ducks on the banks of the lake, and the driver took advantage of our interest to say this is how far he would go. Swarn told him there would be no payment if he did not take us till the original place where we had taken a dip three days ago - we had negotiated a payment of 100 yuan to this car driver for this trip. After a little bit of argument with the driver going "stop" and Swarn going "no pay", finally he took the car to the spot Swarn wanted him to go to.

Monastery on top of the hill, directly above our car

Amazingly beautiful lake Manas Sarovar
There were no changing tents, and we were parked at the foot of the vertical face of a mountain. We changed in the car. There was a monastery on top of the mountain, seen in picture above. Hopefully the monks kept the faith and looked away.

It was still afternoon, much earlier in the day than three days ago when we had arrived at the lake. The water was warm in spots.

My second set of three immersions in a natural body of water - I think I had begun to enjoy this.

My room mates -  Seema, Swarn and Pratibha
Back at the guesthouse, the Sherpas had made tea and soup and were now unloading duffel bags from the truck. My duffel bag had come off at the seams - three days of travel ahead for Kathmandu across the border!!! Swarn said I could have a gunny sack, there were no extra duffel bags. This is a recommendation to the travel agency : mine was not the first or last duffel bag to come apart on its first trip. Knowing fully well the quality of the bags provided and the nature of the terrain and the trek, it is essential to carry a few additional duffel bags for the convenience of the travelers.

As I emptied the contents of my duffel bag to fill up the bed, I realized it was more convenient to spread things on Swarn's bed next to mine, while I rested on my bed. Swarn came into the room, took one look at the contents of her bed, and offered me her duffel bag - she could put her things into a gunny sack - an offer I gratefully accepted. A new duffel bag from Day 11.

Little children ran around with plastic bags asking for candy - I gave them some Toblerones. It is refreshing to see candy being eaten. Such healthy habits are followed in our tiny household of three in Dallas, that all desserts stay untouched if guests do not eat them. I signaled to the children to smile so I could take a picture. Only one child understood, the other two blindly copied my gesture. :)
Awfully cute Tibetan kids smiling for a picture, carrying little plastic bags to collect candy from the travelers
The immersion in the lake had left me cold and hungry. There was a little store in the guesthouse that sold noodle packs and poured hot water into whatever pack you purchased. With each noodle pack were three packets - sauce, salt/pepper/spices, pieces of meat and vegetables. Not sure what the sauce contained and certainly not wanting to eat meat, all of us threw away the two packets and sprinkled the spice packet over the noodles and asked for hot water. It tasted great, I can only hope this was truly a vegetarian meal.

Tomorrow, the long drive to Paryang starting at 3 am to avoid the scheduled road-blocks for construction activity.

Aum Namaha Shivaaya!!


  1. The Swamiji in the right is Swami Jaganmitra chaitanya ji not Anshuman ji.

  2. wow !!!!!!!!!!! amazing yatra. Hope you brought back with you lots of blessings from Shiva and your kundalini is active.