I got up early in the morning and
headed towards lake. Wanted to take some
snaps before others in our group start gathering. The weather was clear. For
the first time I saw Gurla Mandhata without cloud cover. A hillock was blocking
the view and hence I decided to walk for a km to see the mountain. I may also
get some good shots, I thought. As I was walking, I felt that someone
approaching behind. It was a dog running towards me at an astonishing speed!!
Tibetan dogs are ferocious. They
are friendly when you are in a group. But their behavior changes when a solo
outsider is seen. The stories of travelers being bitten by dogs are not rare in
Tibet. I did what best I could do to avoid the feline attack. Pretend throwing
a stone!! This deterred the dog but by then my courage was lost. I decided to
return back to camp before the dog is joined by its friends. Better to lose an
opportunity of a good photograph than risk a potential dog attack.
My roommate’s condition had
improved a lot during night. That was good news. Back in camp, preparations
were ongoing for “homa and havans”. The place was next to Manasa Sarovar. I was
surprised to see the arrangements they had made for the religious rituals. Everything
was meticulously planned and necessary items were procured. The simple ceremony
that lasted an hour. Like yesterday, the good weather made life easy.
After lunch, we started our
journey to the town of Darchen 40km away. Darchen is the last halting before
starting Kailash Parikrama. At the foothills of Kailash Parvath, the town is
overlooking Gurla Mandhata range and Manasa Sarovar.
|Darchen with Kailash in the background|
Last time I called my Home was at
Nyalam Mu. Zhongbo and Manasa Sarovar camp did not have ISD booths. Hence I
went to an ISD booth next to our hotel to make a quick call to Home. The
communication center also had Internet facility.
|Gurla Mandhata range seen from Darchen|
At Darchen, tourists can choose
to visit Ashtapad, a mountain that provides a close view of Kailash Parvath’s
south face. Only 4X4 vehicles can go to Ashtapad. Visit to Ashtapad is not
included in the package. A Jeep carrying four people would cost about 300
|Manasa Sarovar from Darchen|
Ashtapad is also the place where
the first Tirthankara of Jains, Rushabdev attained Nirvana.
|Kailash from hotel room|
The cloudy weather made me
skeptical about views at Ashtapad. A chance has to be taken, especially when
you cannot come back to this place so easily!!
The route was steep and filled
with boulders. There were streams that had to be crossed. At that time, it
started raining heavily. The drivers skillfully drove though this tough
terrain. Under such weather conditions, there was no chance to see the views
As we neared Ashtapad, the
weather suddenly changed. The clouds disappeared and Kailash Mountain was in
full view. All in the matter of few minutes. That is Himalayas!!
The place exceeded all my
expectations. A mountain next to Kailash looked like Nandi. That was the
closest we could go to South face of Kailash.
The weather God then decided to
end the show and clouds promptly engulfed the mountains. It was time to get
down to Darchen.
Darchen is the last place to
purchase anything that we need before starting the Parikrama. I went to shops
and brought nothing. I checked with Sherpas and confirmed that they provide
drinking water during Parikrama. I therefore decided not to purchase mineral
water bottles. They were also expensive. Later I would repent my decision.
Out of 64 people, 13 decided to
stay back at Darchen and others would go for parikrama. We were asked only to
take only items that are required during 3 days of parikrama and leave the rest
at Darchen. The Sherpa team would also split up along with food and utensils.
One group would be put up in Darchen while others would come with us for parikrama.
It rained heavily during night. It was extremely windy and heavy noise created by it was unbearable. I had never experienced such winds before.