In The Earth Of The Gods

Trip to Tibet – “Kora” of the Kailash Mountain

There are mountains that are only mountains and there are mountains that have personality. The personality of a mountain is not only a strange form that makes her different from the others, just as a face with a strange outline or strange actions which don’t make of an individual person a “personality”. Personality consists in the power to influence the others, and this power is due to the resoluteness, to the harmony and to the focusing on a point of the character. If in an individual these qualities are present in their maximum degree of perfection, then such individual is a potential leader of the humanity as ruler as thinker or as saint, and we recognize him as receptacle of the divine power. If these qualities are present in a mountain we recognize her as a receptacle of the cosmic power, and we call her a sacred mountain.

And this is how, above all the sacred mountains of the world, the Kailash mountain has spread her fame and has inspired the human beings since the immemorial times. There is no other mountain comparable to the Kailash, since it forms the central point of the two more important ancient civilizations of the world, whose traditions have been left intact for thousand of years: India and China. Both for the Hinduistis and for the Buddhists the Kailash is the centre of the universe. She has been called Meru or Semeru, according to the most ancient Sanskrit traditions, and it is considered the physical centre of the world as well as the metaphysical one.

It forms the pick of the “Roof of the world” as it has been called the Tibetan highland, and radiating from it, as the rays from the ship boy of a wheel, some mighty rivers begin their course towards the east, the west, the northwest and the south. These rivers are the Brahmaputra, the Indo, the Sutlej and the Karnali. All these rivers are born in the region of the Kailash-Manasarovar, that forms the tallest chain in the Tibetan highland. (Lama Anagarika Govinda)

This was the craved destination of our trip: the Kailash Mountain, “the Jewel of the Snows.”

We depart from Italy in eight to effect the tour (kora) of the sacred mountain with an itinerary that will bring us in Tibet after having crossed the valley of the Humla in Nepal by foot from a little open to the tourist flow. After a brief standstill in the chaotic Kathmandu, with a charter flight we reach Nepalganj, a little town situated in a warm line of the band of the Nepalese lowland that confines with India. From here, with a small airplane with flight to sight, among deep valleys covered by forest, we reach Simikot where, for the landing, the animals that browse the grass must have been moved on the pass drawn on a basin to the top of the hill. The landing is shivering but the panorama and the beauty of the place make us forget quickly the escaped danger. Here we find the staff furnished us by the Nepalese agency that will accompany us for ours “pilgrimage”. After having loaded the mules with our luggage, provisions and curtains we finally start.

The departure for a trekking is always an exciting moment. The caravan of men and animals begins its walk. This is an ancient, archaic way of going to which we are not accustomed anymore. Step after step each one with his own walk and with his own thoughts, we start to coast along the river Karnali that goes down from Tibet. We cross villages of extraordinary beauty lived by ethnic minorities bothia (Indian term to point out the Tibetans), small “gompa” and monasteries in an alternation of terrace cultivations of bowline and mile. We constantly cross caravans of sheep and goats with their load of salt coming from Tibet. Since the antiquity this valley has been used for the mutual exchange of merchandises between Tibet and Nepal.

After a week, crossed hundred kilometres, we reach the pass Nara La (4.600 ms) from which the look spaces on the immense Tibetan highland. The fantastic panorama and the lack of oxygen for the elevated quota literally take our breath away. We quickly lose quota and we reach the village of Hilsa bathed by the crystalline waters of the Karnali. Here, after having paid the “tax of transit” (100 dollars) to the Maoist resistance, and expounded the customs formalities with the Chinese police, we enter in Tibet.

We leave unwillingly our caravan and we transfer equipment and luggage on three 4X4 Toyota that in two days will bring us to the sacred lakes Manasarovar and Rakastal to the presence of the Kailash.

Lama Anagarika Govinda writes: Few hours later having left the pass Gurla, the pilgrim reaches the lake Manasarovar and experiments the glory of the first sunset of the Jewel of the Snows on the sacred waters. While the Kailash disappears behind a hood of multiform clouds, the sacred lakes become the exclusive centre of the attention of the pilgrim. He cannot stop admiring their radiant blue and marvelling himself for the strange game of the nature that seems to impress him with all the symbols of the ancient tradition: behind of him the Mountain of the swastika (the Gurla Mandata 7780 ms) symbol of the eternal creative faculty, in front of him the two lakes, the Rakastal (the lake of the irate divinities of the darkness) that it appears to the left in the form of an increasing moon, while the round form of the Manasarovar, remembers the one of the sun, (the Lord of the day and the pacific divinity of the light). This combination of signs is one of the favourite symbols of the Tibetans.

On the shores with the gilded sands of the lake we camp for two days to give way to our body to acclimate to the high quota (4500 ms) and to the mind and the spirit to purify.

The panoramas are superb: on the oriental/south bank the glacial thick of the Gurla Mandata which grazes the 7780 meters of quota rises and to the north/west the cuspide of the sacred mountain can be admired, the colors of the vast pure waters are excited from the clear air and they keep on varying from the blue intense, to the turquoise, to the sapphire. The monasteries of the Manasarovar have risen as simple places of withdrawal in the points in which the great mystics (Millarepa) have sojourned and they emanate an intense aura.

Unwillingly we leave these lakes you load of energy and we continue toward the village of Darchen stung of departure for the “kora” of the Kailash. The mountain is revered in the east as the point of conjunction between the dimension of the human world and the pure spheres of the superior beings. Every religion conceives this place with reference to the own symbols and cosmological visions. For the induistis it is the throne of Shiva, for the Jainistis of Tithankara, for the Bons that of Tonpa Shenrab and for the Tibetan Buddhists of the form of Chakrasamvara, expression of the clear light of the omniscient mind. All the pilgrims that complete with devotion the turn of the mountain (kora) think of, thanks to the particular connection that this place would have with the pure plans of existence, getting a deep purification of the proper karma. The tradition says that if a person succeeded in performing in a life 108 koras in correct way he would achieve the complete purification of all the negative things accumulated during the really incommensurable cycle of transmigration.

The path that follows the circuit around the Kailash mountain departs from Darchen and is long around 54 kilometres. It has to be crossed in hourly sense and gradually it climbs up to the 5600 ms of the pass Dolma. Along the run the heart is full of emotion when we meet elderly Tibetan women or children that, without too many problems, advance with calm reciting some mantras (prayers). We cross then some reckless persons that perform the kora with prostrations employing weeks to complete the circuit. It’s all a following of places connected to history, myths and legends, and also small monasteries: the whole decidedly makes the path unique in the world.Climbing toward the pass of Dolma we transit close to some little ponds and near a point where the pilgrims use to leave something of personnel: usually suits or locks of hair to mean the abandonment of the weight of the proper karma and the negative things of the past. From the Dolma, where an infinity of flags of prayer wave to the wind and from where the peak of the Kailash is not seen, we quickly go down passing close to the little pond of Tara where some rare wandering induistis perform an ablution in the icy water at around 5500 meters high. Then we reach the sweet pastures of the underlying valley where we find herds of yak to the pasture. From here we quickly reach the monastery of Zutrulpuk built on the place where Millarepa came to meditate.

It tells Lama Govinda: While the pilgrim is climbing the high pass of Dolma, which separates the northern valley from that oriental, he reaches the place from which he can perceive the Mirror of the King of the death (Yama), in which all of his actions of the past reflect. In this place he lies among two enormous boulders in the position of a dead men. He closes the eyes and faces the judgment of Yama, the judgment of his conscience in the memory of his preceding actions. And with them he remembers all those people that were him dear and whom are dead before him, all those people whose love has not been able to repay; and he prays for their happiness in whatever form can be reborn. And as pawn of this, he leaves small relics of their terrestrial days in this consecrate place, a bit of suit, a lock of hair, a pinch of ash of the funeral pyre, or any other thing has been able to preserve for this last service to the beloved dead person. While the pilgrim is experimenting all these wonder he leaves the sacred place being everything of his being in a state of ecstasy and transformation. After having reconciled in such way with the past and crossed the gates of the death, he crosses the threshold of his new life on the snowy pass of the mother omni-mercy Dolma. Now he has overcome the last test and with it all the anxieties and the adversities.

A cold and prickly wind accompanies us toward the last line of our walk.

At the end of the valley our Toyotas wait for us. The yaks are relieved by our luggage and the two Tibetans that have accompanied us until here with theirs mighty animals, warmly greeting us. We climb over the Himalaya at the pass of Lalung (5200 ms), where the vast slopes of the Shisha Pangma (8050 ms) dominate the sight to west south. Then we reach the border of Kodari and through “the bridge of the friendship” we re-enter in Nepal and in a few hours to Kathmandu.

Lama Anagarika Govinda concludes in this way: The pilgrims return to their country with bright eyes, enriched by an experience that for all of their life it will be a source of strength and inspiration, because they have seen The eternity, they have seen the Earth of the gods.

Edited by ANDREA G.

Published on Dolce Vita International 1