9. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Darchen to Derapuk

July 2012

Previous posts:
A journey into Tibet - Kailash Manasa Sarovar
1. A journey into Tibet - At Kathmandu
2. A journey into Tibet – Mountain flight
3. A journey into Tibet - Manakamana
4. A journey into Tibet - Kathmandu to Nyalam Mu
5. A journey into Tibet - Rest day at Nyalam Mu
6. A journey into Tibet - Nyalam Mu to Zhongba
7. A journey into Tibet - Zhongba to Manasa Sarovar
8. A journey into Tibet - Manasa Sarovar, Darchen and Ashtapad

As the name suggests, Kailash parikrama is going around the Kailash Mountain in anti clockwise direction. It is similar to circling the Temple where Kailash as it is believed to the adobe of Lord Shiva. The total parikrama distance is about 52 km of which 12 km is motorable. The remaining distance need to be covered by foot or pony. Normally, it would take about three days to complete the parikrama. Our preparations would be tested now!!

Yama Dwar
Everyone was on high as it was the start of the parikrama. First we travelled to “Yama Dwar”, 8 km from Darchen on vehicle.  The parikrama starts from Yama Dwar.

Starting point of parikrama

Out of 51 people in our group, 49 decided opted not to walk but hire pony for parikrama. I and an elderly person from Bengaluru were the only people who would be walking!!  It was shocking as I felt some middle aged people in the group could have walked. But they were swayed by the fear installed by the majority of the people in the group. A consolation was Amrith, head of the travel agency would be walking with us. Having performed innumerable parikramas, it would be a cakewalk for him.

Initial stretch
Fortunately, many people from another group had decided to walk. So, I will be having company.

I had decided to hire a porter. There were two reasons behind this. It was my first Himalayan trek and that too being a high altitude I did not want to take any risks. The second important reason was my health. I was on antibiotic even when I reached Kathmandu and had my own doubts about the success of parikrama. But looking back now I feel I could have easily managed the trek without the porter.

The first day of parikrama is about 12 kms where we reach a place called Derapuk which is at an altitude of 15,700 feet.

It was 12 noon when we started walking. Weather was great with clear skies. The first few minutes of walk was difficult for me. I had not walked much for several days and it was showing now. But then things eased up after some time.

We were walking in a valley with huge cliffs towering on both sides. The walk was next to a stream with some crossings in between.

West face of Kailash

It was mostly plain walk with few ups and downs. I found myself overtaking members of the other group who were walking. I was walking continuously and taking photographs all along the way.

After an hour or so, the west face of Kailash started to appear. First it was the view of both south and west face.

And then the west face was fully visible. The good weather provided clear views of Mount Kailash.

After about two hours of nonstop walking, we had reached the end of the valley. Here we would have to take the right fork by following the stream that we were walking along.

There were also some tents converted to hotels that served food. My porter (his name was Sarangatu) decides to have his lunch there. I devour the packed lunch provided. So far the walk was easy.

After spending about half an hour at the rest point, we continue our journey. At 3PM, we see Derapuk Gompa at a distance. It took nearly 30 minutes to reach Derapuk even though it seemed very near. The last stretch had some climb.

Kailash seen from Darchen

I was the first person to reach the place. I went into a guest house but found that it was not allotted to our group. I had to climb up a little to reach another guest house. I was frustrated for reaching wrong place and quickly ran up to the guest house. A mistake made!!

Never exert yourself in high altitude. Due to quick run, I started gasping for breath. It took me nearly an hour to recover back. A lesson learnt in a hard way.

But then I was impressed with my walk that day. It had taken me 3.5 hours to cover the distance and had reached before the horses arrived!! That was something to be proud about. But second day would not be so easy.

From Derapuk, one can see the North face of Kailash. The mountain looks very near. It is also possible to climb up to a place called Charan Spark which is at the base of Kailash. I and Amrith had decided to climb up but then the weather started to turn bad. We decided to abandon the plans.

My porter
There was nothing much to do in Derapuk. The place had couple of guest houses and a Gompa. After evening, cold weather forced us to stay indoors. Dinner was also served inside our rooms.

The second day of parikrama would be the highest test of our physical stamina and will power. It would be a long day and hence we go to bed early at 8PM.

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