If you want to touch the holy peak of Manimahesh Kailash, stand atop the Sukh Dali (Kalah) Pass and stretch your hand, it’s that close. It’s highly likely that you will get to shake hands with Shiva.
No, not the one that you see in movies, calendars, or your holy books.
I am talking about the other one. Shiva, the cosmic consciousness. The inner peace, as Master Shifu describes it.
My travel partner, Arun Sharma once shared his Kailash Mansarovar Yatra experience with me. I was told that at the mere sight of Manas and Kailash, people start crying. And it’s not just crying, people actually sob like infants. As if they have found their mother.
As if they have met someone lost a long time ago.
My friend Rijul crossed the Sukh Dali Pass last year and he has narrated his story here. Please go through the blog post. He told me that you haven’t seen Kailash at all if you haven’t seen it from the Kalah Pass top.
I wanted it to be a quick journey as I didn’t have much time. Without waiting for my regular travel partners to accompany me, I decided to give it a go on my own. Alone.
Day 1 – Chamba. Day 1 – Holi. Day 1 – Kalah.
At Kalah, the villagers actually stopped me from marching ahead. They realized that I was alone and ordered me not to move out of the village. You don’t say no to your lovely hosts. Not in the Himalayas.
Day2 – 0620 Hours – Kalah. 0820 Hours – Drammad Camp Site. 1020 Hours – Jail Khad Camp Site
I had planned to touch the Kailash peak and go back to Chamba on the same day. For that to happen, I had to walk 14KM on Day2. And that too in quick time because if you are late, you don’t get any views from the top of the pass. However, my left foot started creating trouble. It started to make cranky noises. On top of that I almost hugged two black bears on my way to the top. Add to it a dozen of ugly monkeys. Perfect!
A signboard at Jail Khad read Manimahesh – 6 KM. Jai Bhole!
The next stop was Sukh Dali which is now a non-existent lake just beneath the pass. Dali being derived from the word Dal which means a water source, lake or reservoir. Earlier there used to camp a shepherd at Sukh Dali but he too was absent. I was banking on his support to feed me or at least give me a cup of tea. But these shepherds are smart. They follow Indic calendars.
Because Janmashtami and Radhashtami are related to Monsoons in India, these shepherds adjust their movement according to these festivals.
No food or water at Sukh Dali either.
I have no clue about my arrival time at Sukh Dali but I left at 1345 Hours. Now all I could imagine was I standing atop the pass staring at the Kailash. The ascent was steep and soon I started hallucinating. All I could see was Kailash. Kailash all around. It was raining yet I was imagining a crystal clear view of Kailash. My cranky knee got jammed. I pushed it, slapped it, and knocked it, so as to make it functional again. The last few meters had to be climbed on one foot. Unlike other passes in the vicinity, Sukh Dali pass shows up easily. It is not one of those hidden passes of the Pir Panjal Ranges.
Atop the pass it was all gloomy. There was no sight of the Kailash. I decided to wait. Half an hour passed by and my head spun badly. I hadn’t drunk a drop of water for the last four hours and I was standing at 4700 meters above the MSL. With freezing winds blowing around, it was difficult to wait for the elusive Kailash to make an appearance. I decided to wait for another half an hour. Nothing happened. The Kailash was nowhere to be seen. I decided to get down.
Crying. Like an infant.
After descending a couple of hundred meters, the holy Manimahesh Lake appeared. I was still crying. I wanted to shout out but I could not. My throat was choked. I walked down the last one kilometer in a drugged state. Not aware of my whereabouts.
And then, ladies and gentlemen, as if someone blew away the clouds from the sky. There it was, standing and smiling. A dark rocky mountain, “Ajar Amar Kailash”
And soon it disappeared into the oblivion again. Vanished.
The aftereffects of staying atop the pass for long started to appear. My head was spinning. And I could not sleep. Because I was yet to watch the Kailash in its full glory, I decided not to go to Chamba and stayed at the lake itself.
Next morning, the inevitable happened. The shining sun started to push the clouds around and made way for the Chamba Kailash. Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, these mountains certainly have a divine power associated with them. They are immovable yet they appear so calm as if asking the lesser mortals to learn from them.
To learn the art of living. The joy of living with compassion and love.
I cried and the Kailash listened to what all I had to say. That was it. That was all.
Ever heard of a dialogue like this?
And unless you see it you wouldn’t understand why I cried like an infant in front of it. Be there, it’s Manimahesh Season. The Journey starts on 19th August and lasts until late September. And go solo. That’s when divine intervention happens.