Sunday, September 11, 2016

(Manimahesh Yatra 2016) part-4. Camping at Manimahesh Lake -Bham Bham Bhole!!


How you doing? Well, Part 3 covered the story of our trekking up to Dunali, where we took our night stay. Earlier in part 1 and part 2,  night stay and Chamba Jot, and holy bath at the Bharmani Devi temple were narrated respectively. So, we slept as if we had sold all our horses. 

Morning at Dunali

At night the only sound that one could hear was the roaring rivulet 'Dhancho khad,' which runs downwards, parallel and very steeply along the trek.  When we woke up at around 7:30 AM, the air was vibrating with the chants for Shiva. Pilgrims had crowded the path, some of them  climbing up to the Manimahesh lake while others descending down to Hadsar. 

Dhancho water is ice cold and clean, but dangerous in case you slip into the powerful stream. I picked up my toothbrush with paste, and went near the spring water next to the shop, channelized with a pipe but untapped as there was no need to do so. The water was clean like distilled water, or perhaps purer. Toilet facility was not available at Dunali, and that is why that I spotted stools in the open in surrounding bushes. 

At Dhancho

We decided to climb up to Dhancho and use the toilet facilities there. After climbing amidst the dense Deodar jungle that on a ninety degrees sloped face, Dhancho was not far than one kilometer from last shop at Dunali. Gopal and I were ahead of Ashu bhai and Shankar, and as were hungry, we stepped into one of the many Langars and ate some poori-channa. 

Soon we entered the second Langar and then we ate something else. Eating too much is not advised so we took small meals only and tea. Dhancho had a temporary settlement of the Langar Bhavans and other shops, but had the permanent toilets. Perhaps we spotted more than fifteen langar bhavans at Dhancho itself.

A talk with supervisor of Sulabh International 

While we rested and refreshed Ashu bhai and Shankar started some discussion about the cleanliness of the place with a supervisor of the Sulabh International. The same NGO that maintains the toilets and bathing facilities at various bus and railway stations throughout the India. Supervisor told that they maintain the cleanliness everyday till the end of official yatra dates i.e. 9th Sep 2016 for this year. 

Dhancho - a temporary market. Clicked from the steep mountain trek of Manimahesh lake, 2016

After that the shopkeeper who leave the place later, do not carry the plastics and garbage with them, and that creates the problem. Soon the snow fall occurs and all the debris remain here itself. 

It was a problem for real and government should keep the eye on this. From Dhancho one can take the usual trek or a steeper one along the Bander-ghati. These two meet again after about two kilometers of climbing, near the Shiv-Gharats. 

From Dhancho to Sunderasi and Gauri Kund 

Dhancho Khad (stream) has to be crossed few times after variable stretches along the trek. Crossing are mostly the small temporary bridges, and police helps in crossing them if its susceptible to danger. 

The pilgrims trying to the find the footsteps along the Manimahesh trek, 2016.

Langars would were also available at Sunderasi and Gauri Kund, and would be available at lake itself. Drizzling had started when we reached the Gauri-kund, and there we waited for Ashu Bhai and Shankar who had taken another steep path along the Bhairo-ghati. 

At Gauri-Kund

Path for the Bhairo-ghati diverges from the main path after Sunderasi, and two meets again at Gauri Kund. It looks like a shortcut but it can be very tiresome due to the steepness and less width. Gauri-Kund is the place where ladies take the holy bath. Kailash peak becomes visible from Gauri Kund. 

The Dhancho Khad looks in its infancy here. Another narrow diversion takes to the Kamal Kund, which lies at the base of the Kailash mountain. And another one kilometer hike along the main trek takes us to the holy lake of Manimahesh.   

A miracle?? -Camping at Manimahesh Lake 

After climbing the last stretch of the trek, we were welcomed by a gate on the northern side of the lake. Lake was surrounded by the temporary shops and pilgrims. On the opposite side of the lake were erected the number of tents of different colors. 

Tents at the Manimahesh lake, 2016
It was a dream to sleep around the lake in one of those tents. Therefore the first thing we did was to book a tent. After we inquired, the shopkeeper lurked out his head and pointed his finger towards three blue tents. He asked to chose any of them. The price was about 500 rupees per tent, in which we all four would accommodate comfortably.

Below the tents were the shops which completed the circle of the shops around the lake. In between of the shops and lakes, was the two to three meters wide stone paved path, along which pilgrims were circling the lake. It was raining, yet few people were inside the lake, pouring the buckets of the holy water on their body.

We walked a half circle and then we reached for the tent, and threw our bags inside it. In front of us was a cloudy sky, with nothing much visible other than the lake itself. Soon Ashu bhai and Shankar joined us. Shankar had dared to take the bath in the lake, as he was hungry and wouldn't eat anything until he would take the holy bath. 

Evening at Manimahesh lake, August 2016 - clicked by me. 

It is a pilgrimage of difficult kind, as walking up along this steep trek without anything in stomach is not the job of the weak. Soon they went to eat something at the Langar while we stayed in the tents. Now and then we would hear the chants  of"Bham Bham Bhole" or "Har Har Har Mahadev," which did materialize the epic drama scenes from many TV serials. 

In those scenes, generally the Shiva-gan or the Indra-gan are shown coming to Kailash Parvat, where Shiva would be sitting in the meditation pose. These ganas would be either in pain or need of protection from some kind of demon. 

Today it was the time to see this scene in reality. Manimahesh Kailash parvat was in front and ganas were standing near the lake some praying for blessings, some chanting while walking, and some while bathing. 

The difference between the reel and the real scene is that Shiva is shown in the human flesh in the TV serials, while not here. Yet it seemed as if he was there, everywhere, in every soil, cloud or in the water particle. We could feel the aura. Later while we all were seated with a guest who called himself a Gaddi basically from the Bharmour region, the air was still heavy, and those clouds had not left the peaks of the Kailash Parvat.

Our ears got punched by louder chants of 'Har Har Har Mahadev' or 'Bham Bham Bhole.' Without the delay of single second, we stretched our heads out of the tent, and saw that, miraculously, a beam of sunlight had touched the feet of the Kailash parvat. It was exactly 6:42 PM, and soon the rays would disappear. 

Miraculous beam of Sunlight on the feet of Manimahesh, Chamba 2016.
I have seen the sun-rays falling on the Dhauladhar range after a cloudy or rainy day,visible from my home, but it looked different and divine. Sun-rays can not look more beautiful and divine at any other place than at the feet of the Kailash mountain. 

Sun-Rays midway to the heart of the Manimahesh Kailash, Chamba 2016

Slowly rays ascended up the mount, and touched the "Aum" symbol formed at the heart of the mount and then disappeared. Thankfully I was able to get a selfie with this divine scene at the Manimahesh Kailash. 

That night we talked about Shiva, shouted Shiva, chanted Shiva and sang Shiva. There were other small gatherings who sang the devotional songs at night of the Chambyali, Kangri and Mandyali regions. We slept inside the camp  at midnight with five blankets and two sleeping bags. It might have rained at night, but we were safe and sound asleep.

Holy bath in the morning at Manimahesh Lake:

Morning was cloudy, but energetic with the shiv bhagts' chanting and roaring around the lake. Manimahesh kailash was hidden behind the clouds. I couldn't dare to take the bath without sun-rays, moreover it was drizzling.

We waited, and finally at around 11:00 AM, sun showed its shine. till now it was hidden behind the clouds along its path from the Manimahesh peak to the zenith. After packing the blankets and packing our bags we rushed towards the lake. One by one we took the bath. It was cold, and after taking two complete dips inside the lake, I was off the lake. Shankar took a dip and Ashu bhai managed with the bucket. I didn't notice Govinda, but might be he did the same. 

Holy bath at Manimahesh lake, August 2016

Anyway, I felt a rush of heat after coming out of the lake water. It happens that we don't feel cold after dipping in the colder than the surrounding air water. Soon we were packed inside the clothes again. It was time to say goodbye to Kailasha parvat. 

Way back down the Manimahesh Trek

I left with my heart contented to its depths and filled with new energy. 

Roaring water of Dhancho Khad, Manimahesh trek 2016.

We covered the fifteen kilometers descent in less than four hours, including few minutes rests and lunch at one of the langars.

from left - Ashu bhai, Shankar, me, shopkeeper and Govida - Inside a shop on Manimahesh trek, 2016