Into the Sacred Space

It was a cold misty morning at Nathu La, the natural high-altitude passage between India and Tibet, across the Himalayas, in Sikkim. Passports had been verified for the one last time by the Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP), baggage tags checked, and the visa papers secured, as the rain came down lightly on the first batch of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatris standing in a straight file at the Indo-China border, some 4,310 m feet above the sea level. These thirty seven pilgrims were witnessing history being made before them by being the first travellers from India to enter the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) through the Nathu La after the border was closed in 1962.

We, the members of the first batch, or the historical batch as the authorities would tell us over and over again could feel the unmistakable excitement and festivity in the air. Having dreamt of a Kailash-Mansarovar visit all through our lives, we were finally heading to the most sacred spot on this planet to almost half of humanity including the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Jains and the Bonpas.

“One mountain, however, stands high above the rest, a sacred mountain overtopping the ranges of lesser sacred mountains, their epitome and apogee. This mountain is called Kailas.” – John Snelling, author of The Sacred Mountain.

“One mountain, however, stands high above the rest, a sacred mountain overtopping the ranges of lesser sacred mountains, their epitome and apogee. This mountain is called Kailas.” – John Snelling. The Kailas sketched by Aarti Saxena

The mountains had always fascinated us. “The Godly Kailash and the Manas-Sarovar (translated as ‘the mind-lake’), how placid and beautiful could a lake be whose name sounded so heavenly?” such thoughts kept us occupied. We had all heard stories or anecdotes of the Kailash visit from those who had been to the holy land. Some experienced yatris in the group would often share their tales over meals and acclimatization walks from day one of the yatra.

“Yea in my mind these mountains rise, Their perils dyed with evening’s rose;

And still my ghost sits at my eyes. And thirsts for their untroubled snows”

Swami Pranavananda quotes Walter De La More in his memoirs

We were fast getting initiated into a direction that would eventually take us into the deep stillness of our inner-self by way of sacred communion with nature. Away from the madness of the cities, we had never felt more alive than when we were in the embrace of the Himalayas. Inside our minds, the mystical yearning to visit the Holy Kailash Mountain and the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet had been germinating for many years. The very thought of such a possibility would leave us dreaming about the grand solitary spaces of the Himalayas. The moment when our yearning of years was going to be fulfilled had finally arrived. It filled us with great delight when our wish and desire to pay our first homage to this natural and divine wonder through Nathu La got materialized in June 2015.

This blog series is a joint effort by Aarti Saxena (who also happened to be the Liaison Officer of the batch) and Satyender S Dhull, who were blessed to have been a part of the first batch of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) via the Nathu La. As we write this with deep contentment of finally having visited the Holy Land, we cannot help but wonder still if we shall ever be able to visit Kailash again. For us, our spiritual-escapade into the Sacred Space would always be a rare adventure in Tibet, a country absolutely full of history, interest and significance.

There are no mountains like the Himalayas, for in them are Kailas and Manasarovar --- From the Skanda Purana

There are no mountains like the Himalayas, for in them are Kailas and Manasarovar — From the Skanda Purana. Watercolor on paper by Aarti Saxena 

The following posts are an endeavor in capturing the most magical moments of the yatra, before and after we crossed the Tibetan border! We hope you enjoy reading about our journey and experience it through our eyes and perspectives. Om Namah Shivaya!

Disclaimer: All views expressed here are personal, and do not represent the views of the Government of India in any manner.

Prelude 

Planning and Preparations

From Plains to Sikkim (New Delhi – Bagdogra – Teesta – Rangpo – Gangtok) 

Reception at Gangtok (The Ridge – 15th Mile)

Adjusting to Higher Altitude (Gangtok – 15th Mile – Chango Lake)

The Legend of Soldier Saint Baba Harbhajan Ji (17th Mile – Kupup – Jelep La)

Crossing Nathu La to Enter Tibet (Nathu La – Yadong – Phari – Gala – Kangma)

Getting Shepherded through Tibet (Kangma – Gyantse – Friendship Hwy – Shigatse – Lazi)

By the Yarlung Tsangpo Chu in Tibet (Lazi – Saga – Zhongba)

Traversing the Barkha Plains (Zhongba – Paryang – Barkha – Darchen)

The Kailash and the Yam Dwar (Darchen – Tarboche – Deraphuk – Zutulpuk – Darchen)

A Glimpse of Eternity by Mansarovar (Darchen – Barkha – Mansarovar – Qugu)

Retracing the Trade Route to Nathula (Qugu – Zhongba – Saga – Lazi – Shigatse – Gyantse – Kangma – Yadong – Nathula)

The Festivities Around (Nathula – Sherathang – Gangtok)

Back to the Plains (Gangtok – Darjeeling – Siligudi – Bagdogra – New Delhi)

Postscript

66 Comments on “Into the Sacred Space

    • That’s great Sir. I am sure you had a good time there. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such stories 🙂

    • Thanks Sabyasachi! You must go there. This post would help you in planning your trip. Keep visiting bNomadic 🙂

  1. What a fabulous post… and such a lovely place… I hope my husband and I can visit soon 🙂
    Ps – the poem is lovely… 🙂
    Cheers, Archana – http://www.drishti.co

    • Thanks Archana for stopping by the blog and showering it with appreciation. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such stories and escapades. 🙂

    • We’ve just come back from there. June- July 2015. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such stories 🙂

  2. Its a great article about the pilgrimage to the abode of Shiva, where every human being desires to be to experience the unexplainable Encounters with nature and almighty. I am also waiting for my turn to be there. All the best for rest of the stories.

    • Thanks Ami. Indeed! That is what we intend to do. Lots of photographs and sketches to follow. Watch this space 🙂

  3. The prelude is nice…gives the impression of interesting travelogue to Mansarovar…and most importantly some amazing shots as well. waiting for the next part. 🙂

    • Thanks Jahnavi for dropping by our blog. You may like to follow this blog-series to read more about the Kailash Mansarovar region. Keep visiting 🙂

  4. Pingback: Prelude | bNomadic

  5. I missed the registration deadline for this year by a whisker :(. Hopefully, I can make it tomorrow. On a related note, did you follow any specific exercise regimen to prepare for the physical demands of the trek?

  6. Reblogged this on creatortruthlove and commented:
    Unfortunately I have not been to Kailash because it is not in my destiny. I have been to Amar Nath once and have real spiritual experience that I have not shared with any one since 1995. Your blog had make me think to share it with others. Although I had Canon AE1 at that time but was not with me because that trip was not planned but sudden. So no photograph to show and do not remember the name of people I met. Your story have given me idea to write. Thanks.

    • Thanks Bhudav. Good to know you. You should post about your escapades and journey to Amarnath on your blog. Also, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is a very doable proposition now. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such stories 🙂

  7. India is definitely on my bucket list. China’s great wall. ..hong kong…and so many other places the Lord wants me to go.

    Definitely beautiful and spiritual!

    Blessings, Emma

    • You should definitely come to India. Apart from absorbing the rich culture here experience the divinity of Himalayas. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such stories 🙂

  8. I am going to do a feature post on my blog soon. Be ready for a short interview etc. I recommended your blog to a friend recently. Wishing you all the very best. Excellent write up as always. The reason I love your blog is the flow and engagement that transports the reader to the place instantly. Not all can be everywhere but this way at least we see and learn about the beauty of the places in your country.

    • Thanks tikulicious! *ceremoniously uncorks champagne* bNomadic is ready in its new avatar. Thanks for showering it with appreciation. 🙂

  9. Thanks for visiting http://somepeoplearelost.wordpress.com I’ve always wondered at the prominence of sacred mountains in so many cultures – even those that did/do not live in mountainous areas. And that when there are no mountains locally, people build their own, as dirt mounds, pyramids or reshaped hills.
    Thanks for letting us in on your journey.

    • Thanks for stopping by the blog. I am glad you liked it and the post. Apart from that a serene landscape always inspires the soul. Keep visiting bNomadic for more on this and other such stories 🙂

  10. A very interesting read. The fact that you got in through Nathu La is significant and arouses my curiosity. Getting ready to read the rest in the series.

    • Thanks for dropping by the blog. And for the feedback. Our crossover through Nathula was significant in many ways. For us it was a chance to visit the holy Kailash region. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such stories 🙂

  11. Pingback: The Legend of Soldier Saint Baba Harbhajan Ji | bNomadic

  12. Pingback: Crossing Nathu La to enter Tibet | bNomadic

  13. Pingback: Getting Shepherded through Tibet | bNomadic

  14. Pingback: The Legend of Soldier Saint Baba Harbhajan Ji

  15. Pingback: By the Yarlung Tsangpo Chu in Tibet | bNomadic

  16. Pingback: Traversing the Barkha Plains | bNomadic

    • Thanks for dropping by Mr Roy. I suggest you to please go through the initial few chapters of this blog to know more about the procedure/ process. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such travel stories:-)

  17. Hi I just have a small issue with the Blog, i dont seem to see a connectivity to the next Blog after I read it, am I missing something?

    • “Into the Sacred Space” is a series of blog posts related to our recent visit to the Kailash Mansarovar via the Nathula. I suggest you to read this parent post once and thereafter refer to the posts in the order they are listed. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such travel stories 🙂

  18. Pingback: The Kailash and the Yam Dwar | bNomadic

  19. Pingback: A Glimpse of Eternity by Mansarovar | bNomadic

  20. Pingback: Retracing the Trade Route to Nathula | bNomadic

  21. Pingback: The Festivities Around | bNomadic

  22. Pingback: Back to the Plains | bNomadic

    • Thanks Shruthi for stopping by the blog. Glad you liked it. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such travel stories 🙂

  23. Pingback: Postlude | bNomadic

  24. Really great to read! You really capture the awe of the experience. Thanks!

    • Thanks Rob for stopping by the blog. Glad you liked it. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such travel stories 🙂

  25. Pingback: Book Talk: A Hermit in the Himalayas | bNomadic

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