“Next year I will return to Kailash.” I say. “Why next year? Come now!” Shiva replies. And so one month later I kneel infront of Him while my eyes fill with tears. Little seems left in my life that evokes such joy in my heart.
It was my third visit and third Parikrama on foot around sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet. Each time I had written about it and each time the experience could not be more different; simply reflecting my inner state of being.
This time the journey was so easy, calm and healthy. It entailed neither pain nor struggle. Except on the very first day in Lhasa itself (because of indigestive food) I had no altitude sickness and no health concerns. All conditions from weather to accommodation was of such first-class service that I felt as if I was carried on His hands. Partially it seemed unreal what service we got offered. Exclusive rooms I didn’t even know exist with full bottom to ceiling window front facing Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash. The dissolving of clouds infront of Kailash whenever prayed for. And I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much from the bottom of my heart with my dear travel companions. I would like to say thank you to my friend for inviting me. But then I also know that I should say thank you to God; for everything is a gift from him or rather she and him are really one and the same.
I could speak of visions on Mount Kailash or of birds eating from my hand but what difference does it make to you. It would simply be my experience not yours, creating expectations and illusions in you. What I can tell you is that Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar are the most outstanding places on Earth I have visited. Why? Because my heart says so. I have neither logical nor supernatural reasons to tell you. My heart said so before I ever visited it and it says so long after I have visited. I love you Kailash.
So this time I will simply share travel tips for all you dear readers who may plan to visit Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar as well:
- Do not visit during full-moon: Yes full-moon nights are particularly energetically charged, but hundreds of other pilgrims know that too. If you visit during full-moon you will likely find yourself in a crowded and noisy environment with hundreds of other pilgrims visiting at the same time; specially those of the larger Indian teachers. It is better to select a calmer time and to visit during off-season which likely gifts you the chance to have the entire Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash for yourself with only the occasional “Tashi Delek” greeting from the traditional local Tibetan pilgrims on your side.
- Dip or no dip in Lake Mansarovar: Please note that as per a new law in 2018 it is not allowed anymore for pilgrims to take a dip in Lake Mansarovar. So if you decide to travel with one of the large travel tours it will be impossible for you to take a dip in holy Lake Mansarovar. It is better to travel small and quiet with three to four people. You know what I mean 😉
- Gauri Kund: It is a tiny lake right after passing Dolma Pass which on an altitude of 5,641 meter is the highest and most difficult part of the entire Parikrama. Gauri Kund is known as the Lake of Compassion. For some it is connected to Goddess Parvati and for others to Goddess Tara. This lake stands for purity and fertility. The Puranas say that those who touch Gauri Kund will become a deity him/herself. During my first Parikrama I was completely oblivious to Gauri Kund. Five years ago it was only thanks to the kind offer of a fellow Pilgrim who went down to Gauri Kund that I could drink its water. I remember in my obliviousness and hast I accidently poured half the amount into waste and saw the shock on the face of my fellow Pilgrims. This time fully aware of the preciousness of Lake Gauri Kund I made sure to walk down and collect its sacred water. Remember to bring some empty bottles along so that you have space to collect its water.
- Three Days Parikrama: Please try to walk the entire circle around Mount Kailash. The full circle of 52km means the full completion of the Parikrama. It usually takes three days. Many pilgrims only embark on a one day hike till Dirapuk from which Mount Kailash can be seen standing majestically infront of them. It is certainly an unique blessing to be in such proximity, but truly and sincerely believe that you have the capacity to continue walking over Dolma Pass. It’s okay if it may rain. It’s okay if it may snow. Your legs can still walk. Keep walking. You can do it!
- Once in a lifetime: I don’t know when I may be blessed to see an open pilgrimage route to Mount Kailash via Badrinath…or have I already. Till this may happen I recommend to travel via Lhasa. For the sake of the well-being of each pilgrim I will be frank: I strongly do not recommend to travel with the large Nepalese tour agents, who shuffle pilgrims in a hurry up and down. It does not offer sufficient time to adjust to the altitude nor to be with and sink into the sacredness of the environment. Given the large amount of money spend and the once in a lifetime opportunity, take your time; even if you may have to pay a little bit more. Travel via Lhasa or spend a few extra days up in a village in the mountains in Nepal before you enter Tibet. Be kind to your body. Be kind to your mind. It is worth it to invest into your own small private group rather than joining a large commercial group.
- You need nothing. For my first two Parikramas around Mount Kailash I carried way too much stuff along. You only need your toothbrush & paste, water bottle, torch, energy bars as well as warm and waterproof clothes. You need nothing. You will use nothing. On this kind of altitude each tiny item will be of manifold weight on your shoulders. Thus only pack the very essentials. Repeat with me: I need nothing. I will use nothing. I need nothing. I will use nothing…
- The onset and the end: I recommend to start your Parikrama in Darchen in the very early morning rather than first driving into Darchen from Lake Mansarovar. There is something magical to experience while leaving Darchen in the dawn of day with the vague outline of Kailash in the background. It allows you to reach Dirapuk around midday and walk towards and properly soak in the proximity of Kailash. Or even better: why not take an extra day in Dirapuk to walk up to actually touch Kailash? It is a full day challenging hike to reach the Northface of Kailash. Likewise upon completion on the third day some pilgrims get picked up by bus around 2km before reaching back to Darchen. Perhaps you might as well complete the entire circle on foot.
- It’s a journey of tests: Surrender. Surrender. Surrender. All is by His wish only.
And now I can say: I am done. Nothing is pending. Nothing to achieve. Nothing to be done. My pranams to Yama…..oh I am waiting, impatiently waiting. My pranams to Shiva….what fun you had with me. My pranams to Devi Ji….such infinite unconditional love you shower on me. Thank you for gracing me to meet within. At your service!