Sumathi Chandrashekhar «Call of Kailash…….A Soulful Journey»

An experience of parikrama around the Kailash from the point of view of Indian pilgrim

It all began four years back when I got a call from my brother from Qatar, he asked if I am interested in joining them for a trip, one of their group person dropped out. I asked where and he said KAILASH. Without even a single thought I said YES, although I had no idea about Kailash then.  Little did I realize that call from my brother was actually the “Call of Kailash” and little did I realize that my saying YES without any thoughts, was actually going to be a major turning point in my life in terms of understanding the meaning of life. And thus began my journey that I call my Soulful Journey…

We started off from Nepal  to Tibet capital Lhasa, the highest city in the world.  I got the opportunity to visit the various monasteries and the most famous Potala Palace which was originally built in 7th century. Potala Palace had got damaged due to thunder and storm and was rebuilt in the 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. Visiting Potala was kind of a physical and mental preparation for the Kailash journey. Climbing the 113m high Potala palace by stairs gave me a glimpse of lung capacity needed to trek a higher altitude place.   Inside the Potala, I got to see the “Temple of Enlightenment” where the Kamakhya and 12 year old Buddha statue made of Red sandalwood that was specially brought from India and is being prayed since 7th century.  When I meditated here,  something started happening within me. Probably some kind of alignment with the higher consciousness was beginning to happen after visiting the various powerful monasteries in Lhasa.




It was very interesting and unique to watch a spiritual debate happening among the monks in the Sera Monastry. They were debating  on the Dhamma  taught by Buddha.





With the physical and mental initialization happening in Lhasa,  we move towards Kailash Manasarovar from Lhasa. On the way, we got a chance to get a glimpse of the peak of  Mt Everest . A road bifurcating towards the Base camp of Mt Everest. Just the views on the way started hinting me that I am moving to some heavenly place. The mountains, the plains, the lakes were so beautiful for my eyes to believe .








Look at the Fishers on these mountains. Looks as though there were rivers flowing through these some years ago or is this the weathering phenomena on the mountains?

I was wondering at the different flavours of mountains that I got to see on my way.  Sandy, Snowy, Clayey, Sliced or cracked mountains!! On the plains below mountain, there were  beds of yellow, green  and purple flowers !! Some of the black mountain tops were covered with snow cap. It appeared as though the passing clouds were adding the snow cap on the mountain peak J ! There were huge anthills like mountains.

I was noticing these mountains were depicting the different flavours and the dual nature of life. Look at the beautiful colorful plain in front of the dry mountains.  There was sand dune covered with a snow cap!  Probably it was expressing the life has good and bad, light and dark, cold and hot etc etc…everything is in dual and the best part is they compliment each other. I guess these mountains and the plains were depicting this very important aspect of life.

While I was getting the glimpses like this on my way to Kailash, I noticed that it was not just a beautiful sight  seeing, instead there  was some thing that started happening within me. Later I could relate that this “something” was actually the Energy centres of the body  ie the 7 chakras* have started getting kindled.

*{ Correlation of chakras with various stages during the journey :

The whole journey is actually like ascending the chakras of the human body where in the energy centres called chakras represent the different levels of consciousness ascending from a level of all kinds of ignorance human has, to the level of realization, ones merger with the higher consciousness, the divine. In the initial stages, we were all at the physical level  the lower part of the chakras namely Root chakra (Mooldhara),  Sacral chakra (Swadishtana), Solarplexus (Manipura)chakra  are active. We are excited, there is passion and there is some amount of confusion too. We are experiencing the physical bodily pains. But as we move on further from Nyalam to higher places the upper chakras namely Heart chakra (Anahata), Throat chakra (Vishudhi). We move higher from the bodily levels and start experiencing at the mental level, start feeling the love and start chanting the cosmic sound Aum. Finally when we move reach Manasarovar and move towards Kailash the Third eye chakra (Ajna ) and the Sahasra chakra start getting initiated and our consciousness levels have risen high! }


I have started to think that I am seeking something and what is it I do not know!  Things that used to look very ordinary , I have suddenly started wondering at them, I don’t know why!!

In Hinduism, Kailash is considered the abode of Gods. Mt Kailash is considered the Abode of Lord Shiva who is the destroyer of ignorance and illusion. Lord Shiva is the designer of the whole creation. The whole Supreme consciousness is Shiva. Lord Shiva is called the Adi Yogi who is believed to be taken the form of  Mt Kailash  and is meditating for years and years from the time of creation. I do not have any idea when and how  the Kailash Mountain was formed. But I do believe that due to the high intensity meditation there, one feels the special power when we reach that region.  I have been to normal beautiful mountains as a Trekker but never ever felt this kind of a power that I got to experience in the Kailash. For Hindus, its believed that taking a dip in Lake Manasarovar purifies one from all the sins and elevates the soul to a different level.  Circumbulating Mt Kailash is considered the most auspicious ritual in their lifetime. Everyone does not get this opportunity to perform this in their whole lifetime.  One is chosen, to perform the circumbulation in Kailash. Probably I have started to feel this already!

During our stay at Nyalam, the first acclimatization trekking happened on a small mountain. While trekking, all the muscles of the body were getting used and reaching the top looked tough. Once I reached, there was heavy wind. Even standing there was tough due to the wind force. So that was kind of the physical exposure to come out of the comfort zone and learn to put the extra effort to reach the destination. But once I reached, I get such glimpses on the other side of the mountains which were partially snow covered. I couldn’t resist myself reaching the edge of the mountain to watch those glimpses. I started feeling some kind of bigger force acting on me and I just sat down and closed my eyes. I do not know how long that meditation was, but when I opened my eyes, it was the first miracle to see.  I got the glimpses of all the God, Godesses whom I used to pray all these years , whom I have seen and worshiped in most of the temples in the form of idols in India. They were the pictures which are in my subconscious mind and are appearing as forms in the mountain.  I din’t even realize that the tears were flowing from my eyes. The feeling was very high, felt so elevated. The strange part was what was visible to me was not visible to my friends around.



We departed from Nyalam. It was sunny during the day. The Sun was intense directly hitting your skin, realized that they need protection. The weather was very dynamic.  Sunny will suddenly turn to rainy and by evening its very chill. It was just not predictable on the mood of the nature. It made us to experience all flavours of weather and be prepared for anything. These kind of dynamic tests, kindled me to think that in life too, we are made to go through all flavours of situations and we need be prepared and accept them with grace. Probably the Nature was teaching me this lesson!!

As we move towards Manasarovar, the body is acclimatized  to the altitude. I made it a regular practice from the beginning to do some pranayams (breathing exercises) everyday  so that my lung capacity is improved to withstand the low oxygen conditions in the high altitude. As we moved higher, I noticed that there were some kind of disturbances happening within the group. That was probably the result of High altitude sickness.  This was causing some kind of negative energy within the group. The result somehow was that there were some other hindrances coming at various stages to move forward. Those were probably the tests to see if we are able to have the patience and faith and the will power to reach the destination. At such times, it was very important to have a healthy group dynamics. So we started to have group bhajans (spiritual songs) where everyone’s focus was on the destination, the Kailash! I invariably used to go into meditation during these bhajans.  This helped us to have the unity and a positive energy to move forward.

On the way to Saga we happened to halt at the banks of Brahmaputra river. It was complete peace , I could not resist myself going near the bank of the river away from the group and sitting quietly listening to the river. I was sure the river Brahmaputra was singing a beautiful tune. I just closed my eyes and was lost in a different world. I never realized that  our vehicle had some problems and it was actually a long halt. That was a blessing in disguise for me.





After a long drive we reach a small village of Tibet called Prayang. We got the opportunity to stay in small mud houses. The Tibetans are so warm and so loving, we could feel that just by their expressions.  Though we were strangers but they were treating us as if we knew each other for long.  It was strange to find that at such altitude, with hardly any resources, they had a living and they seemed so contended.  Our  Sherpas were also Tibetans and they were so energetic and always smiling. Even under the toughest conditions, they used to prepare and serve us timely food and drinks with a smile, something I salute and bow to them for. Perhaps living in the region around Kailash, they have some special energy levels which keeps them happy and they are able to show love to strangers.



Next day was the THE day for me as we move towards the Manasarovar. As we were approaching , I was very excited. I started feeling the senses of the soul which was the sense of joy, sense of love, sense of bliss and ultimately when we reached ..Oh My God what a view I get to see…a vast lake surrounded by mountains and that is “THE MANASAROVER “ I was just mesmerized!! I had no clue few seconds back that there is such a big lake suddenly appearing from no where, its so silent and still. As I go near the lake, my thoughts start rolling saying this is the place where for many many ages, holy souls have been meditating for years and taken dips. . And I got the first ever glimpse of the Mighty Kailash which from Manasarover appeared as though a mountain is floating in the air. At that moment I could feel a gush of energy that flowed within me. A feel as if I am floating. I got a chance to take a dip in the Holy lake Manasarovar. In India, this is considered very auspicious to a get a chance to take a dip in the purest water.  While we take dip in the Manasarovar, in India, we believe in praying our ancestors and taking blessings from them and asking for forgiveness from them for anything  we have done knowingly or unknowingly. The belief is that all the past bad Karmas that are accumulated in different birth cycles are washed away when you take a dip in this pure water. The water here is considered so powerful. One feels very energized after the dip. It’s a soulbath!

Later we move on towards the twin  of Lake Manasarovar, the Rakshas Tal. There was complete serene and was very isolated.  There were no monasteries or living camps around this. I found this to be very serene and even more vast than Manasarover. In Hindu mythology, its said that Ravan (the demon) had meditated here and got the penance from lord Shiva here and he acquired some special powers  after many many years of meditation.

I went around and found beautiful pebbles of different shapes and colors. I collected few of them.

Manasarovar and Rakshas Tal are considered two opposing forces that govern the existence, yet they are interconnected.

That day we stayed at Manasarovar. It was a great experience to sit alone in the banks of Manasarovar in the evening watching the birds and fishes playing in the lake , watching the sky and watching the partial view of South face of Mt.Kailash. Just sitting and listening to the sound of silence and absorbing the energy.

In the night, the sky was so clear, the stars were so near. It appeared as though I can just pluck those glittering stars. They appeared as if they were all giggling at me J! I was mesmerized by seeing such bright  stars which I had never ever seen in my life. We could watch the constellations Orion, Big Dipper (SaptaRishi) so clearly.

As the night passed everyone went to sleep and I was just in no mood to sleep even though I was very tired. I was constantly watching the sky and the lake. So many thoughts flowing and after a while everything became just still, including the thoughts. And I was so much feeling the melody of the silence. As the night passed, I could watch so many shooting stars and towards the early hours of the morning there were some strange light phenomena that I got to see. I was completely stunned watching this phenomena. To me this was a great blessing to get such glimpses!!

Next day morning we performed the pooja in the banks of Manasarovar.  While performing the chantings, I noticed that out of nowhere there was an old lady walking towards us. She had a special grace on her face. After the chants, I took blessings from her and continued to wind up. Later when I turned, she had just vanished from the place in no time.  I kept wondering, who was she, from where she came and how could she vanish so fast!!

Later we all moved towards Darchen. As we approached Darchen, it appeared to me as though each and every mountain was welcoming me. I could feel gestures from these mountains. My thought process goes to say that even these mountains have soul and they all were expressing something special. I soulfully thanked them to have given me a chance to be among them.

We reached Darchen and we move towards Ashtapad. It was a good trek. I was all excited and when I reached the top, I get the first closer glimpse of the South face of Mount Kailash.  That was the time, when I realized, I am so so tiny and I am just nothing in front of this mighty Kailash. I couldn’t move my eyes from it. It started to rain and I was not ready to move back, till my guide shouted to return.

Next day is the most important day where we are all set to begin the circumbulation of Kailash called  Kailash Parikrama, in India. We drive till a point called Yam dwar or Gateway of death.  Before starting the parikrama, we pass through the small gateway ie the Yam dwar . My perception of doing this is basically to drop your body here ie the physical level external layers like ego, jealousy, fear, anger etc and begin the soulful journey  totally being within self, knowing your true identity.  Hence its probably called crossing the gateway of death ie death of the worldly things, materialistic world which is all illusionary and move onto the reality.




I start my most awaited journey, my heart beat pumps at a fast rate probably due to excitement.  I loved watching the yalks and the horses. I have some gesture exchange with the yalk sitting there before I start my journey. I felt they were saying something and smiled back at them. Probably they were wishing me good luck for the journey.  I start my journey by offering my prayers to the Kailash, partial South face could be seen from Yam dwar.  My porter accompanies me and I move on without waiting for the group.  I felt like moving with my own companionship.   The beauty around was just mesmerizing, looking at the vastness of the mountains all around, I feel what a tiny thing I am in front of this whole magnanimous creation by the Supreme. I had the same feeling when I was in front of Manasarovar and Rakshas Tal.  I am such a tiny part of the whole creation and all the monstrous layers that I have built upon over my pure soul are slowly getting crushed in this region.  As and when I walk, one by one all these layers seem to be shedding off.  I get a closer glimpse of Kailash . I can’t believe that I am actually walking around the most powerful place on earth. ( The realization that it’s the most powerful place comes to me towards the end of my circumbulation after my experiences). I look at the mountains and the stream passing by and each seem to be talking something. I am able to feel the gestures from the mountains. There is truly something special here. I have seen mountains in other parts of the world too, but never felt what I was feeling here.  It felt as if they also have souls but they are all still and just witnessing everything, all kinds of weather. Rain or snow or storm or sun, they remain unmoved. They teach me that in life too, we will go through all kinds of disturbances at different intensities with different flavours but for me, as a pure soul, I should be remaining still just as these mountains and be in a witness mode.




After a long thoughtful walk with glimpses of the west face, I reach Deraphuk. As soon as I reach Deraphuk, I can’t believe my eyes to see the mighty North face which was so close. I could clearly feel some special vibrations. Probably the power of Kailash could be very much felt here with high intensity.  A snow shower had just begun from the peak of the North face.  It looked as though lord Shiva was extending his welcome to me in his own style. All the pain that I was in due to the long walk  just vanished and I was elated.  I performed meditation right in front of North face. The energy levels were very high.  A snow storm started in the evening and it was very very cold. Next day early morning we were to start our trek since it was a long journey on the second day. And look at the twist, early morning we find the whole region is covered with snow!! It had snowed the whole night. Our group leader informed that a snow storm is expected in  the next 48 hrs and hence its not advisable to move forward and hence the whole group should return back. I could not believe this. I was shocked, not for the snow and the storm but for the decision being taken. There were few who were having the same feeling. We eight of us decided that we will move forward at our own risk and with lot of difficulty got the permission for the same. I had no idea that my second day journey was going to be many many times tougher than the first day. It was the inner voice which I heard saying that I could proceed and I just blindly went by that. I don’t know from where I got such a power! We moved on and as we started to climb the Dolma, the path was completely snowed and fresh snow fall just began to make it even more tougher. There was no scope of returning back. My porter, Norbu, helped me by holding my hand at various stages. And as I keep seeing up, I don’t see the destination at all. I feel its IMPOSSIBLE further.  Forget about climbing, the snow fall was so much that I couldn’t see where I am keeping my next step. And this moment, I get the ultimate lesson of surrender! I just surrender myself to the Supreme and tell him that you are going to carry me further. I don’t know how, I got the energy to move on while I was just chanting “Om Namah Shivaya” , “Om Mane Pidmeham”. This chant was so powerful that it gave me all the courage to move on. Once I reached the Dolma, I realized that there was so much energy within me which I never knew. This emergence of the inner strength was the biggest experience during the whole climb of DolmaLa. When you surrender to the supreme energy, you actually invoke the innermost power within you. I literally experienced this.  I learnt to remain blissful in the most painful moments. Even though severe pain was there in the body, I could not feel that because I was beyond my body now.




Completing the DolmaLa and then walking a long way in the rain, I was totally drained out but I still had a long way to go to reach the camp at Zutulphuk. This part of the journey made me feel the “shunya” state a state of nothingness.   You just hear to the sound of silence.   Deep within me, the only sound reverberating is “Aum” , the sound of creation!  This is the state where you see the qualities of your true self, its just love & compassion. Everything else vanishes. My upper level chakras are activated and I am tuned to the cosmic energy.

With this blissful state I reach Zutulphuk and next day back to Darchen. I was sure that there was a special power with a special purpose due to which 8 of us out of a group of 40 were picked up to complete this circumbulation under such tough circumstances.  I felt truly blessed. At the end of the circumbulation, I realized that its not the destination that is important, instead it is the journey itself and the experiences during the journey.

On the way during the circumbulation, I noticed many small caves. Its believed that sages have meditated in these caves for many many years. Its also believed that the energy they acquired have been transferred to the rocks and mountains and the streams in the Kailash region. Probably that’s the reason, we find everything so mystical here, we feel the high vibrations from each and everything in this region which have been here for many many centuries.

At this moment I would like to quote Giuseppe Tucci

“Holy places never had any beginning. They have been holy from the time they were discovered. Strongly alive because of the invisible presences breathing through them. Man is amazed or fearful as he feels the vibrations of invisible power in the air. “

As Albert Einstein quoted

“We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us”

To experience Kailash, its not the physical capacity or at the intellectual level to conquer the long treks and tough terrains, its much beyond that, it’s the mental expanse that is needed to comprehend the energy there. And in fact the journey to Kailash actually enhances expands that capacity! I am sure this invisible power is much beyond normal human comprehension and way beyond todays science. No mortal till today has been able to reach the peak of Mt Kailash though many have been able to scale the Mt Everest which is at a higher altitiude than Kailash and I am not surprised by that because after my journey,  I do believe that  Kailash is the Energy centre on earth which interconnects the earth with the Supreme. Something unknown to us  which has not been seen, but perhaps has been felt during this spiritual journey around Kailash.

The beauty of this journey is that it soaks me deep and deeper as days go. Each instant of the journey had a lesson for me in real life which I am able to correlate in my daily life situations. My yearning for Kailash is increasing more and more. There is some power which attracts me even though I am sitting miles and miles away. I am awaiting for the call for the Inner Kora, for one thing I have realized is, how much ever one plans and prepares, the final call actually comes from there. I just have to constantly tune and fine tune myself to hear that call ……the Call of Kailash!!

My expression for Kailash is this  —

You made me to bring out the strength and perseverance…
You made me experience the power of surrender and faith….
You made me feel the bliss in the pain…
You made me see how tiny I am in your whole creation…
You made me experience the nothingness, the shunya!
You made me hear the sound of Silence!!
And finally I realize that Silence is you… just you …Oh Kailash OhDivine!!!


I would like to end with a powerful verse called Maha Mrityunjaya which from the most ancient Rig Veda,

Om Try-Ambakam Yajaamahe
Sugandhim Pusstti-Vardhanam
Urvaarukam-Iva Bandhanaan
Mrtyor-Mukssiiya Maa-[A]mrtaat ||

1: Om, We Worship the Three-Eyed One (Lord Shiva),
2: Who is Fragrant (Spiritual Essence) and Who Nourishes all beings.
3: May He severe our Bondage of Samsara (Worldly Life), like a Cucumber (severed from the bondage of its Creeper), …
4: … and thus Liberate us from the Fear of Death, by making us realize that we are never separated from our Immortal Nature.