I am in Tibet. With a group of 11 people from different countries. We are heading towards the enigmatic Mount Kailash (6638m / 21,778ft) and Lake Manasarovar (4590m / 15,060ft). It is the 12th day of my pilgrimage which began in Lhasa, coming from Kathmandu / Nepal and Delhi / India.
August 2018, just before full moon. We’re in the town of Darchen (4575m / 15,010ft), South of Mount Kailash, where we got our accomodation for the night. Having enjoyed the beautiful peach-coloured sunset in front of the guesthouse, I begin now to prepare everything needed for the next day, the first day of our Kailash Kora (3-days circumambulation of the sacred mountain).
I have already written about my visit of Lake Manasarovar, ‘Travelling Tibet: My Manasarovar‘. This post now is about the actual Kailash trek…
My essentials for the prilgrimage are piling up on the spare bed. In a further selection process I decide what the QUINTessentials are and what else I can let go of. I really want my rucksack to weigh less than 5kg. Ideally the bag is as light as the fluffy kitten of the guesthouse… wishful thinking.
1st Day Kailash Kora
I wake up at 2 am, drink some water, fall asleep and wake up again at 4:30 am. It is still dark outside. I can hear some shuffling in the lobby of the guesthouse and know it is Sergei. He will leave at 5, alone, while I will start later that morning with the others of the group. I get up and walk towards the bright light of his headtorch. I can make out his silhouette, hand over some of my German eucalyptus candies, wish him Good luck and go back to bed.
Sergei is on a mission to find out more about a particular plateau deep in the mountains which is marked with huge unknown and mysterious insignia locatable through google maps. He will do the three days Kailash Kora without us. At least this is how I understood his plan.
7:30 am. More than half of us has decided to take porters. Sleeping bag, thermos, clothes, food, camera, necessaire and extra shoes add up and just create too much weight for the challenging high altitude trek. Also I have packed a second bag. The porters line up the luggage and receive their load in a lottery-like draw. A short prayer ritual follows and off we go. As we leave the guesthouse without breakfast, our first stop is a local cafe in the town‘s main road. We have the typical Tibetan breakfast with momos, hard boiled eggs, rice soup and tea.
My lovely co-travellers I share the table with, get all of sudden worried about the tour. Will we make it? Are our bodies strong enough? Lots of doubts and questions pop up. And I can feel how it lowers their own and also my energy. I ask them to stop the destructive talk. I remind them that our bodies are fine now. And that it is pointless to worry about the future, about something that might happen, or might not happen. “Be now. What is now? Now we are very fine. So let‘s enjoy the breakfast. By the way, have you set your positive intentions for the kora? It is a good opportunity to also pray for your ancestors‘ liberation!“ This is instantly a game changer. Their focus shifts and we discuss content and wording of potential invocations.
The porters are waiting outside the cafe for us. The road is leading away from Darchen into the first valley West of Kailash. We begin to spread according to our individual pace and capacities. Our guide makes sure that the slowest member does not get left behind.
I feel fresh and I am keen on diving into Kailash‘s vortex. My body quickly finds a smooth and steady walking rythm.
Twenty minutes have passed when my Tibetan porter, a rather young man named Chotu who walks by my side, begins to speak in Chinese into his mobile phone. Shortly after I hear a robotic female voice translating: „Do you have some food. My stomach is empty.“ This can‘t be true. He left home without breakfast? We‘re not even half an hour on the road and he needs food? I say nothing, shake my head and move on.
This brings a whole avalanche of thoughts: „Ok, I have some food in the rucksack, should I stop and give him a muesli bar? But he is Tibetan, maybe he doesnt know what muesli is. Would he like it? What else can I give him? An apple. But I only have one apple. An emergency apple. No, I better keep it. Think oxygen masks in an airplane. First you, then the neighbour. Why the heck am I responsible for his food? Can‘t he organise himself? Did he do the kora before? Maybe it is his first time. No, this can not be. I am busy enough here with taking care of myself. Will I also have to take care of him during the entire trip? Marina, don‘t be so cruel! But what about his accommodation in the night? Shit, I did not check these things before we departed! Is this my first test of the pilgrimage? Where is our guide anyway?!“ I stop and turn around. None of our group members anywhere in sight. I am ahead of them. My mind is quiet all of a sudden.
The path ascends and I can feel the thin air. My lungs are struggling, and with that, also my legs. Ok, time to take a little rest. I sit down on a big rock and take deep breaths. This mental turbulence certainly does not help. So let‘s find a solution. I open my rucksack and find a pack of crackers. Bingo. I give it to Chotu. Biscuits in the morning should be fine. And indeed he looks content. One issue solved, great. Now, what do I need? Water! And just some relaxed breathing. I am surrounded by prayer flags and rocky grassland. Darchen is already far away and looks just like a sliver of white concrete.
A group of Russians passes me and I am amused. Why am I constantly surrounded by Russians during this journey in Tibet? Of all nationalities! Six out of eleven in my group are Russian, and here, a few kilometers into the trek, Russian women everywhere. Interesting. I enjoy their cheerfulness. It gets me up and back on trek.
Just shortly before we reach the small chapel where prigrims get blessings for their journey, a man stops Chotu and me. He behaves like an official and asks many questions. With the help of Chotu‘s translation app, I get him to call his porter friend and find out my guide‘s phone number. I have no contact details with me, and also Chotu was not briefed properly before we left Darchen. A few calls later whatever was unclear got solved and we move on. Understanding that I am way ahead of my group and guide, I made sure Chotu knew our destination for the night. I had also checked my duties with regards to him: just pay his food in the teahouses. Porters have their own accommodation. Va bene.
I recognise how mental upheaval and thought convolutions affect my body functions and physical performance. Interesting to get this insight so evidently presented. Now, my body feels light again and ready to continue.
Clouds hang low on the stately Western range. Vegetation is hardly existent. And yet, herds of bulls graze here and there at the feet of the mountains. The Tibetans that occasionally share or cross my path tend to wear their traditional clothes.
Those mountains. What unusual topography they have! I live in the Himalayan foothills of North-West India, have visited the higher ranges many times and never before came across such unique, smooth and somewhat individualised shapes. Neither did I see such particular features on the way from Lhasa.
The Himalayas are a relatively young mountain range (ca. 45 million years old), compared to the Alps in Europe for example, with a formation process that began 300 million years ago. The terrain I have visited in India between Uttarkhand and Ladhak always had the significant sedimentary rocks, layered slate structures, pebbles and sand. A result of continental collision and the folding of tectonic plates where there was once the ocean. The natural physical features tend to be rather jagged and spiky.
Although the layered structures also exist here, many of the mountains surrounding Kailash are sculpted in another way, and I keep thinking what might have caused this. Weathering and erosion? Vulcano eruptions? Those round-ish or skinfold shapes and almost leathery, dinosaur or reptilian scale textures feel highly unusual. As if they were fossilised beings. Other mountains look like remnants of ancient forts and castles. I also notice that certain shapes are repeated at equal distance, in a particular rythm.
Kailash has a special form in any case which led to various speculations that perhaps this mountain is not a mountain at all. Russian scientists have suggested that the top of Mount Kailash is actually a giant man-made pyramid from ancient times. If true, it means that this is the largest pyramid known today – and history books need to be rewritten.
In many traditions, Mount Kailash is considered the holiest place on Earth. And probably the most mysterious one as well. But Kailash‘s surroundings are not less intriguing. The mountains around Kailash stand like petrified beings, like bodyguards protecting him.
Some canyons in the West look and feel rather grim and heavy. I can not make out whether they are meant to scare the unworthy away or whether they are containers that absorb the prilgrims‘ inner muck and energetic baggage. The black stains on many of the stone ridges certainly does not make the scenery any friendlier.
Approaching slowly the Northern side, the landscape and sky open up and feel brighter. The mood of the environment shifts. Also the amount of glimpses I get of Kailash himself increases. And the gargling river which runs in parallel to the trekking path seems to accompany us prilgrims, and feels upbeat and uplifting.
During the entire walk I am very clear in my mind. I have constructive, loving thoughts and instead of prayers, I frequently speak invocations while walking. I call upon eternal supreme light and invoke liberation and all sorts of good for myself, my family, my ancestors, the planet and the cosmos.
In the last tea-tent of the day, I spend some time with the cute daughter of the owner. She wears a typical Tibtan jacket, has short hair, rosy cheeks and an awake facial expression. Her eyes scan everyone who enters the tent. She takes a seat next to me and begins to check my travel diary which I got out to take some notes. With her tiny hands, she is flicking through the notebook, checking page by page. At some point she gets rather passionate and tries to pull the book from my hands. Unfortunately, I could not understand what she said. To calm her down, I start a simple drawing on one of the empty sheets. She concentrates on every line I make and smiles. Eventually my co-travellers reach the tent, but for me it is time to move on.
I am all by myself. Chotu, the other porters and the rest of my group are behind me. I enjoy the walk, and really enjoy my body. Or my body enjoys me? Let’s say ‘mutual joy’.
I feel like a walking energy vortex and consciously offer my body system to be utilsed by highest supreme consciousness and my divine army to clear, balance and strengthen the area if needed. You might think how preposterous to even think of something like that in the vicinity of Kailash. Well. Deep in my heart I also know it is a central hub linking into high cosmic dimensions and divine light forces. At the same time, there is no denying that we had planetary cataclysms since time immemorial and that an assortment of corrupt people, think black magicians, visited the area. Such individuals are used as portals and anchor points for invisible dark networks. For sure they left energetic foot and fingerprints. In fact, during a meditation at home before beginning my journey, I saw black etheric threads around the base of the mountains around Kailash. He himself appeared pure and untouched, but his surroundings did not. Time to puncture those dark weavings.
Before leaving Kathmandu for Lhasa I had contacted a seer, healer and researcher in the US for her potential insights on the region of Tibet. I have been in touch with her already a couple of years before and knew her work. In the taxi on my way to Kathmandu airport I find her email reply: „Dear Marina, Thank you for your heartfelt service in a very difficult and challenging area of the planetary grid. From the little information I have gathered directly from remote work in this area, I too found the same intense overlays and signatures. I have never been there physically, which limits my understanding, as being there brings another level of energetic clarity about the area. (…) The caveat is to be very careful and stay highly aware of your surroundings. This can set off angry entities who are not happy about being released or clearing from the land. When we are not in our home advantage we are more vulnerable, so always remember that, listen carefully and take good care of yourself first. I hope this is helpful, and no worries at all. The work here is hard and steep, and my biggest hurdle is managing and wrangling the massive amounts of information to be available and comprehensible to many levels of diversity. Forevermore, it is a loving labor, a work in progress ! Take good care and be well! Many blessings.“
Amongst the processes I performed that day at Kailash, and throughout my travels since Lhasa: transit support for trapped souls and energies; a return to rightful owner invocation related to energies, data, memories, materials, properties and spaces; help to collapse negatives forms, reversals, distortions and false programs across all times and dimensions.
My porter stays with the other porters behind. In view of what I do, I find this perfect, and plausible. He catches up with me shortly before we reach our destination: Dirapuk Gompa on 5074m in front of Kailash‘s North face.
Upon arrival at the monastery around 3 pm, Chotu asks a few questions in the reception and guides me straight to one of the guestrooms. He indicates to follow him. We enter a room, and first I don‘t understand why he leads me to somebody else‘s bed, but then, standing in front of it, I realise that the person in the bed, with a red woollen hat, all wrapped up in a sleeping bag and piles of blankets, is Sergei. I am delighted to see him. He wakes up, looks spaced out and asks for the time. I leave and take a rest in the empty neighbouring room. Chotu disappears for the day.
My body is tired but above all, starts freezing. I have cold shivers and hide with all my clothes under two or three heavy blankets. I am the only one in a 4 bed room, and grateful for the peace and quiet. I can not sleep but doze and my body relaxes. Time passes and at some stage people from other groups begin to turn up. I hear them in the hallway. They seem to be confused as to who would sleep in which room. I trust that the right people would stay with me, those who would be pleasant and fun to have around. The commotion outside and in my room does not bother me. A Western couple drops their bag on one of the beds, leaves and shortly after comes back, picks them up and disappears without a word. Surreal. I keep observing and breathing. Eventually, between 5 and 5:30 pm, two of my female Russian co travellers step into the room. Yes! We drink tea, share our experiences and laugh a lot. Tiredness makes room for euphoria.
I feel a sense of accomplishment. Even notice a new connection with my body. As if data of my athletic self is re-awakened and re-activated. When younger and still at school, over many seasons, I used to be one of the best athletes and runners in my class. What a blessing to have my body system fully on my side during this trip.
Over the past year I had not only a typhoid infection, but a miscarriage too. Events that did not necessarily foster faith in my body’s power. But it manages wonderfully well. And to my surprise, I witness how happiness is increasing in my cells. As if my system loves the challenge at hand and is not only prepared but also excited to handle it. Showing me its capacities. To realise how trust and flow beween my heart-awareness-body got rekindled, is a big relief and fills me with tremendous love. Grace at work.
Natalia, Xenia and myself are weary but in high spirits. Natalia even initiates my first Russian language course. And I love it. Each one of us sits on their respective bed and our class happens with ease and joy. I am busily taking notes and asking for noble expressions. Xenia injects posh St Peterburg snippets, and we have a great laugh. Ya v vostorge!
Suddenly, someone is knocking at our door. Sergei steps in. Bringing me some snacks from Russia, and scolding me for walking so fast. Ha ha, I like that. Mne eto nravitsya. He leaves and we continue.
Our group and guide have dinner together in the monastery’s tiny restaurant cafe. Food is delicious and we eat loads of the local steamed bread-like speciality. At some stage, Sergei invites me to climb up the hill in front of us towards Kailash‘s North Face. I reply, without hesitation: „Yes!“ He checks: „Anybody else?“ They shake their heads. Ok, let‘s go.
What looked to me like a foothill was actually a rather challenging rocky mountain. While he turns left, I turn right. My mistake. I strand in front of a pretty ferocious downstream river and begin searching my way back to Sergei. Half way up the hill, we get together and sit on a rock to rest a moment.
Then he asks me to open one of my hands and places a Tsa-tsa on my palm. Tsa-tsas are a form of Buddhist art, small mini stupas (or votive tablets), to be placed in a special, sacred place. They are given as offerings, for example in caves, under prayer wheels or inside stupas. They are also made on special occasions, such as birthdays or visiting an important personality such as a famous lama.
Sergei got several Tsa-tsas from a monk in Kathmandu with precise instructions how many to leave around Kailash and on which day of his kora. I loved the idea of leaving an object with good wishes behind. And since Lhasa I was searching for Tsa-tsas. I checked in every city we passed, but I could not find any. Disappointed I gave up when I couldn‘t get them in Darchen either.
So here we are, right in front of Kailash‘s North face, Sergei shares one of his Tsa-tsas with me. He suggests to walk all the way to the cliff in front of Kailash where a collection of prayer flags blows in the wind, and that we position them there together. I am speechless about his generous gesture, positively shocked.
We walk further, climb across the rocks and boulders. Our target (the prayer flags) seems so close, yet remain distant. The sun is setting. Unfortunately my muscle power is sinking rapidly and I decide not to climb up any further. Sergei encourages me but I know that my body can‘t cope with any more challenges. „Ok, wait here, I go and will do it for us.“, and he continues alone.
While he heads closer towards Kailash, I stay back. I find a good spot for the Tsa-tsa, and then a good spot for me to sit and wait. Wait and pray. I also pray for Sergei‘s physical safety and swift return, for my physical safety, for the beginning rain to stop, for the icy wind to withdraw, for the darkness to slow down.
It is already dark when Sergei finally comes back. What a relief. We head back to the monastery, both aware of the ‚point of no return‘ when climbing in the mountains late at night. It is a difficult trek in the dark but his headtorch helps us to find our way. We are hardly speaking. Just focusing on the right steps. Upon reaching the guesthouse wing, without a word, each one of us enters their room. The girls are sleeping already. I quietly slide into my bed, and instantly fall asleep.
Pilgrimage reports of day 2 and 3 are going to follow.
All photos 2018 © copyright Marina, no extraction & copying permitted.
map painting on the right: unknown illustrator