Before anyone embarks on a spiritual journey, one important question for the future yatri-the pilgrim must know beforehand and be very clear in his mind regarding this aim. And that is-why he wishes to go on this pilgrimage?
As Kailash Mansarovar yatra is a difficult one, mental preparedness is most crucial. Be extremely sure that you really want to go there and discover for yourself for which specific reasons would you like to go . Ask yourself if you are ready to devote a few months in rigorous physical training, willing to spare a few hours everyday in its homework, groundwork and training.
Find out and prepare yourself well in advance which mental and spiritual activities you wish to perform out there. For example, if you think you must do self assessment or review your life, heal a relationship or a broken heart, then become aware of your goal. If you feel that your life has become dull and stagnant, then go in the wilderness and nature to absorb the energies of creativity and come back fully re-energized. If you have a vision and are planning your future, then too take God’s help in deciding which way you should head for. God’s directions are always right. And the most significant of all, if you want to escalate your sadhana by cleansing or washing the past sins as our religions suggest, then too one must never hesitate to accomplish that by making a trip or a yatra . Once your mind is geared up, set & firm, then get ready for-
Physical training– As the pilgrimages are mostly on the hills or mountains far away from city, the future pilgrim must devote sufficient time for physical fitness. Though our ultimate goal is other than just physical fitness, but nonetheless it is a great opportunity to give strict attention to our health which will help us all our lives. Once we return we must maintain those good health habits. Physical fitness is extremely important on this yatra and it cannot be substituted with anything else.
Assign about an hour on an average for physical exercise daily and in between about one and a half hour for building stamina and physical endurance. Towards the end of my training session, I used to walk with my bagpack before my departure which was filled up with items weighing about 3-4 kgs. On the high altitude, we walk wearing heavy woollens and carry articles like camera, medicines and water bottle. The total weight comprises about 5kgs. So one should practice walking with some weight according to his endurance and physical fitness. Go for long walks, climb small hills or mountains in your areas and walk on the treadmill with elevation. Walk up your stairs first without weight then with weight as much as you can. Make your body fit to withstand extra work, mental and physical fatigue and for walking on high altitudes above sea levels. Go with a clear mind that we must enjoy every moment of our stay and travel. The most essential thing to keep in mind- do all the general medical tests and also special tests for your physical ailments to avoid complications and dangers while travelling. Visit your physician and physiotherapist and ask for essential precautions.
Do’s and dont’s for this very special yatra
Don’t compare this pilgrimage with other trips or pilgrimages that you may have undertaken before. This one is really different. And what makes it different? The very low amount of oxygen in the air. This one is the hardest, roughest, and most challenging of all pilgrimages. Doing the parikrama is literally ‘the mother of all treks.”
The high altitude areas in Tibet and China have very thin layer of oxygen. It can become extremely difficult to breathe in some areas and the climate changes drastically throughout the day. And the nights are very cold.Initially be very patient with yourself as the body gets accustomed to the cold and dry climate. Before you leave for the scheduled departure, do some breathing exercises at least for a month to expand your lung capacities. Go with sufficient preparation for the atmosphere by consulting the family physician and the physiotherapist.
Don’t take excess luggage like too many clothes, food, medicines etc. Instead take more innerwears, woollen socks etc.
Don’t take ordinary shoes like walking or tennis shoes. Buy shoes which will protect you from rainwater, cold and wind. Start surveying at least 2-3 months beforehand so that you can try them out, wear them and practice walking before your departure.
Don’t talk too much in mountainous areas. It is far better to contemplate, enjoy the beauty of the place, observe the varied cultures, languages and people on your journey. Conserve energy in every way possible.
Pack your clothes in plastic bags and plastic sheets because of unexpected rains anytime.
Eat a lot of fruits and multi- vitamins capsules before you leave for at least a month because the body is under a lot of stress and one may have poor immunity. It is a very good idea to consume vitamin C in some form during our whole journey to maintain body’s natural immunity.
Avoid beverages, caffeine and junk food as our body is unable to process and digest food quickly there.
When you calculate the total cost, take into account the yuans also as only Chinese yuans (CY) are allowed once you cross Nepal. You will need CY once you enter China. Also refer to this blog of Anil Mavin Kurve.
Do not carry heavy purses, fancy clothes and unnecessary articles, carry just the basics. Some important things that you must buy are – a good quality waist money bag, a good quality bag pack, a good quality camera with enough rechargeable batteries, , torch, thermos, travelling mug with a cover (to keep tea, water hot )jacket to protect from windy air and cold weather. Good all weather shoes, leather gloves, cotton and woollen socks and one extra shoelace in case one gives way. Imagine that you are trekking and the shoelace breaks at some point!! So please carry this very small but useful thing. Wet wipes, sanitizer, paper soap, sunscreen is a must for all. The higher one reaches, the lesser shops you will find .The list of things to carry is phenomenal, these are just the important ones without which you cannot do at all.
Take bangles, bindis, watches, hats & old jackets to give to sherpas and locals. The children everywhere whether boys or girls are fascinated with this beautiful Indian thing They always ask us to give them these small articlfor it and are very delighted if you give them I saw many small shops selling glass and plastic bangles at Kodari in Nepal, the last stop before we enter China.
Last but not the least- mentally start living in the Himalayan mountains and the abode of God Mt Kailash so that you begin to absorb those vibrations even before you physically leave your house. Before you set off, purify yourself of all the impure thoughts. Pray to all those divine souls to call you, to make your journey safe, to bless you and help you to walk up the ladder of spiritual evolution rapidly. There are many Buddhist and Hindu souls who after leaving their bodies, still reside there in a formless state to help the pilgrims to move upwards and make swift spiritual progress.
Before I left I was blessed and initiated by one Buddhist lama who are called Rinpoche in Tibetan language during a session of meditation one day. He said to me that he is from Serlung monastery. At that time, I could not imagine anything about a Buddhist monastery as I had seen none in the Himalayas. I was really, really surprised and I also discovered that when we go for such hard and testing trips, we require help from the astral world also. While I was making the final preparations, many a times he has told me telepathically what things to take and what all I should do to make my journey a success. Many things I have shared with you on this post to assist you in your preparation and training if you decide to go there sometime.
I was very disheartened when our troupe did not show any interest in visiting the famous Serlung monastery located next to Ashtapada, the south face of Mt. Kailash. I couldn’t do much.I wish I had paid my respects and gratitude to that lama whose soul is so fervently present there and who occasionally guided me. Anyway, I dedicate this post in his honour and pray to him that he call me once more to holy Kailash with my dear ones and that I come with much better preparedness so that I can bow at his feet personally.
Om Mani Padme Hum literally means Aum, to the jewel in the Lotus. It is widely used by the Mahayan Buddhists and is recited by the Tibetan Buddhist to invoke the Boddhisattva of compassion. It is a healing mantra and is commonly found inscribed on rocks, stupas, prayer wheels, loose stones heaped as mani or jewels on roads, mountain passes and exits and entries of villages during the journey. It is invoked to protect one from all sorts of danger in this and the next life.