I have read about Manasasarovara Lake for the first time, when I was 10 years old, in one of the most popular magazine “Chandamama” during my younger days. I vividly remember hand drawn pictures of mythical white swans serenading in lake on the cover pages of stories, and stories of angels descending into the lake on the full moon day. I have come across stories about adventurous trips to the Lake and the trek around Mount Kailash, which is known as abode of Lord Shiva, only in late 1990s. I dreamt of going there one day, more after reading awesome blogs written by those who have made it (just Google few key words for those blogs). The word “Manassarovara” originates from Sanskrit, which is a combination of the words “Manas” “Sarovara” manas meaning mind and Sarovara meaning Lake.
I have embarked on a trip to this lake in May 2011, just 2 months after I had joined Cigniti. I had prior agreement that I will take 12 days off to make it to this trip. I took the express version of the trip, as the regular version takes about 20 days. Express version includes traveling by charter planes (most of them are not so safe, so be sure to have good karma balance) and renting helicopters (only god knows if/when they are ever being serviced). It is not common that a typical Desi taking 20 days, for reasons other than “marriage”, and as we know most Desis do not marry that often. So, it is no brainer that I have signed for express version, for The Great Journey for Salvation. Why Salvation?
Radhika told me that making to this trip would make our ‘avatar’ or (stint) of this life would be last exit in the cycle of infinite number of re-births. That was a deep funda for me, though I kind of believed it due to recent gyan. However, for me the primary motivation was to experience an adventure of lifetime, so I instantly Okayed for the trip.
However, due to some freak reasons (to cut long story short), I was able to make it to the border of Tibet, but could not enter into the Chinese occupied Tibetan territory which was briefly banned for visit by US Citizens, and this is first time my US passport was hindrance than a help) where this lake and sacred mountain is located. Some thought, we are not ready, hence did not make it. But I conveniently assumed that I am already so pure, I actually would not need a dip in the lake 🙂
However, this trip gave us memories of the life time. I have captured few of them in 3 videos, each of which is of duration 4 minutes (as my gut says that most folks do not have attention span of more than 4 minutes these days). All these videos are compiled with my favorite soundtrack from WALTER MITTY, which inspired me to visit back and write the story, which is going to take forever to really complete it, given my schedule. Below links provides access to those 3 videos and awesome views that we were serenaded with during this trip to Nepal
Here is the first part of 3-part series of videos that documents my journey for salvation in the areas of Nepal, Mukthinath, Humla Valley, and flying close to Mount Everest.
PART 1 – Visiting Buddhist Monastery in the middle of nowhere
Part 1 documents our journey to Buddhist Monastery in the middle of the valley, which cannot be reached unless you have access to Helicopter or trek for several days. We took easy way out and rented a Helicopter. Sampath, Radhika, Padma, and me were stuck in the midst of a valley for 4 days waiting for clearance to go to Chinese occupied Tibet, where Manasa Sarovar Lake is located. This is one of the several things what we did to keep ourselves busy during those 4 days in the valley. We happened to visit this place on Buddha Purnima; hence you will see many monks appearing in the video.
PART 2 – Adventure Piligrmage to Mukthinath
Whenever, someone talked about going to Mukthinath, Badrinath, Kedarnath, etc. I was always thinking those are the places that will be / should be frequented by senior citizens. Oh boy. I was so wrong. Destiny decided to take me to Mukthinath in the summer of 2011. Journey to Mukthinath can be classified as an adventure pilgrimage. It involved taking a not so safe flight “Agni Airlines” which crashed a week before we boarded it, lands on airstrip in the middle of mountains, needs riding in a ATV for hours in rugged terrain, and requires walking up the hill. Reward for the Trip: Awesome and Breathtaking Views of Annapurna Mountain ranges, from the bed room window. Experiencing unlimited Happiness in the Heart & Soul. Many westerners frequent this place for exploring trekking and mountain climbing . Hence you will actually find restaurants here serving authentic Thai, Italian, and another world cuisine that you can think. I felt little villages in this valley resembled street corners in some of the European countries that I had visited earlier. I am happy to visit this place again with my kids
PART 3 – Experiencing Mount Everest
I have had a chance to fly Buddha Airways (also known as Mountain Flight) and flew over Himalayan Ranges, and saw Mount Everest, during my trip to Nepal last year. It’s an 18-seater plane. There is one seat on the each side, so everyone gets a great view (either while going or while returning). We got to see several mountain ranges during this flight. We are able to identify them little easily because of the map they give us and used as reference during the flight. Each of us also got a visit to cockpit to view Mt Everest, wonder in awe for a moment, and then take snaps. As usual I took both snaps and videos, and finally weaved them in the attached movie link with support from Walter Mitty soundtrack (I am yet to get tired of it). We were lucky to enough to get clear weather conditions, so views were splendid and awesome.