Dienstag, August 21, 2007

Damodar Kunda (4700m) day two part 2

Then we start again to walk around and look for Salagrama Silas, look where the river ends below our valley and feel the Tibet plateau behind the Ice glaciers. Our guide tells us that the very ice mountain in front of us are Brighukutachala (see pic, 7000 meters high, brigkuti* in tibetan language). It is this very same mountain where Parvathi met with the Rishi Brighu and get directed to Damodar Kund to get the vision of Lord Vishnu. He looks so marvelous and very divine...
We find a ancient place of worship not far from the kund, with one old deity of Lakshmi Narayana and few big Salagrama silas lying around them. Pots from pujas, old kusagrass and one big Trident (shivas weapon) are also gathered around here. I put the Deity standing and place the Biggest shila around them (see pic).
Then we watch the mountains, and we are told by our guide, that all the mountains represent the divine messenger Padmasambhava, who has also come here. The ice mountain peaks looking like a big Crown and representing Lord Vishnus helmet. The buddhist Chörten on the other side of the Lake tells us the unity of places of worship generally known here in Nepal, and gives a peaceful hope for all religions on this whole world.

We have to pack our things as the horses dont find anything to eat here, 3 porters are also not very well and we decided to go back to Yara and have one day peace break. So we gather together and make a union pic of our group, 7 nepalis and 2 germans/swiss.

Damodar Kunda (4700m) day two part 1

I woke up in the middle of the night with big headache, thinking my eyes are popping out and my strong push to pass some water brought me out under a clear sky... what a wonderful skyline.. never seen before such a clear and mysterious sky. Millions of stars sparkle like diamonds and let my headache forget... even my pee i forget for a short moment. The air is icy and i guess it is below 0, around -8 C° and i run back fast into my tent and "warm" sleeping bag, but still have that wonderful skyline in my mind...
Early morning we run out and freezing so much from the last night still. I think i can take a bath in the Damodar Kund, i have to break the Ice layer first, then my feet sink inside the mud, and i loose the excitement for taking the bath here. I come out and freeze more then before. I take the Prokshana* as the Bath here, as it is to cold for me. Even my hand taking the water feels like Ice...
Then we both go up to the Vishnu Shrine, open the door and starting to clean up the old flowers, grass or what ever the pilgrims have brought here from far distance to offer here... i guess all the items are still from the last year august, as the pilgrimage time ends in august. After this time nobody dares to come here. To cold and to dangerous walk.
Then we do our Salagrama / Goverdhana Puja in front of Lord Vishnu here. I find some very old coins lying around the deity and one very old manuscript also is wrapped in cloth.

Montag, August 20, 2007

Damodar Kunda (4700m) day one

We come lose and see two ancient shelter houses made from rocks with a corrugated sheet of metal (new roof!). Then we see two bigger water tanks, one pair of ducks fly hecticly away after seeing us approaching (here even ducks???). The whole area around the 3 kundas are wet, icy and muddy, and i guess it is a very big spring. I bring my obeisances to this Holy Place, and others follow. Cira unpacks his Goverdhana Sila and start to bathe Him with the Water from the Kunda. I just observe the scenery and chant silently. Great View, and i notice one small hut near the Kunda. The guide tells me that it is a Hindu shrine. I walk over (the walk is still taking much energy here...!), and find it to be open. Inside is a small 4 handed Vishnu Deity with next to him a Garuda sitting made from Granite. Around him are 4 big Salagrama Silas, dried garlands and flowers and old puja paraphenalia. We decide to come tommorrow morning to do our puja here. But now we want to start to look for Salagramas. But none of us could find any Sila. I could not believe it... Thats the source of Gandaki, Source of Salagrama Silas and none to see??? Looking for more then 2 hours all around, i did not find any. But now i realized that i had promissed to some of my friends and one very dear Sannyasi to bring Silas back from Damodar Kunda. What should i say?
I was desperate... and i started to pray for Silas. I looked inside the kundas, went inside even (soo ice cold!), but nobody!
I wanted to go back to our shelterhouse where our guides allready started to cook for night dinner, and here we are... i found the first Sila next to the Kunda!!! A nice one with a Chakra visible! Ok my mind was satisfied. And again i found another one and one more and one more... i started to dig a bit inside the mood and more Silas popped out... wonderful, thank you very much Dear Lord Narasimha! I came back with a big smile, but my friend Cira had no luck, he wanted a special one found inside the Kunda... The Sun went down fast and the stars over us where sparkling. Strong wind comes and we hide in our shelterhouse. Inside our place some former pilgrims have built a natural puja shrine, with infinite salagramas of all kind of sizes... some indian pictures of Lord Krishna and Rama standing next to it. The climate has tortured the pictures, and the whole thing looks shrill.
We hide in our tents and it becomes slowly very cold... Tommorrow we plan our day early with a bath inside the Kundas, Puja in the Vishnu shrine and some more searching of Lord Salagrama.

Varse Khola to Damodar Kunda (4700m)

After having our lunch in the riverbed of the Varse Khola we pack our self on top of our horses and schwupp* they are going fast. But the path is soo steep up to the pass that i feel like flying and not seeing the ground...
The Horses struggle like anything to come to the pass and in few places we have to come down and walk over big rocks or ice.
Finally we reach the the Pass of 5400m. What a View from this pass... Here you see very clearly the ice glaciers of Damodar Himal (6187m), Amotsang Himal (6892m), Jomson Himal (6581m) and Chib Himal (6581m) all are sacred for Buddhist and Hindus alike. Hindus see this Mountains as manifestation of Lord Vishnu and just below of them the Lake Damodar kunda is found.
Our happiness are stronger then our pains in back, head and stomache and we just want to come to the Holy Lake as soon as possible and so we leave the Pass behind. The walk wriggles his way trough sand and rocks only. From distance we see rare deers and bluesheeps, a wonder in this area where there is no grass for me to see... What they eating here?? We walk and walk and walk... but where is the Lake?? we still hoping to reach soon, and our horseguide tells to all our questions "just few minutes..". The nature of this region looks so abstract one feels like on Moon or some other planet. Our path is very difficult to identify as one, and only with the help of our guide we are able to make it out. later i found out that we are the first group in this year to visit this region and specially the Damodar Kund, no wonder why the track was not visible. In the time from September to Mai nobody is coming here, and the tracks are covered with snow, ice and rocks falling from the mountains down. After a walk of 9 hours we hear ours guide voice "just look straight there you will find Damodar Kund, do you see?"... I cant believe my eyes, yes a very icy spot of water, actually 3 little kundas form the Damodar Kunda. Our happiness are boundless and we jump around our selfs neck... "Hari Hariii" Jaya Jaya Narasimhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

Dienstag, August 14, 2007

Ghyumathanti to Varse Khola (4755m)

After the big Ice glacier we have to come on the horses again, to make the pass complete. Another ride of 30 min. and we are on top of the world. The Barometer shows 5200 meters. Whauuuhhh - and the view indescribable!!! All the peaks are ice glaciers, and holy worshipped for tousands of years by Rishis who stayed here. Damodar Himal is the most impressive one, and his ice is like shinning in blue! Our porters also roll in and we built a stone pepple temple, to worship and give thanks for the allowance to enter here. The atmosphere is really special, we chant some Rig veda mantras and come down to our midday stop and lunch break in the river bed of Varse Khola.

Ghyumathanti to Varse Khola (4755m) part 1

early morning i hear again some sound around our tent like if my hamster talks to me, but more like in a high pitch... many voices and i open my tent and who is there? A big family of groundhogs running and looking at me in the same time... Hidding in their holes, to see whats up with us. Who is camping here??? My head is still nocking, and i start right away with the morning pujas. The groundhogs look from some distance with curiosity. Their talking sounds like "what are these strangers doing here", observing our tents and horses.
The sun comes slowly over the mountains, and the view is spectacular!" Yes im here close to Damodar Kunda, my dream for nearly 8 years to come here becomes manifest" - well the mind says something different - scarry stories he is telling!!
Anyway i decided that we will ride the two horses, instead of walking, Cira is still half dead and sleeping, so better get the horse if we want to come to Damodar Kund.
I have to wake up Cira and we leave after a cool herbal tea for the first of the two Pass we have to take today. The police officer in Kagbeni told us that the Pass is around 5900 meters high, our Horse guide says something different. So it will be a surprise, as we have our Barometer with us the check!
Ridding a Mustang is something really cool, if they dont have always GAS to pass... man!!! Anyway they are vegetarians... just grass pupp.
The way up is really steep and goes over many big rocks, actually the whole area is just sand and rocks. And i found one Sudarshana Salagrama as well. Finally we have to come down, and walk over a ice glacier, while the horses have to walk a different way. So that riverbed ends here... But Damodar Kunda is still 7 to 9 hours away? Looks like the whole area is Salagrama Ksetra!

Montag, August 13, 2007

Yara to Ghyumathanti Shelterhouse (4800m) part 2

We come to a level where even the inhabitants of this area dont come with their sheeps, because there is no grass so far here! I think its around 4500 m and Cira started to curse our cook, he who he blames for his indigestion... but i guess it is not the cooks fault because all of us are well, but more his level of health. High altitute sickness also called, and he starts to feel more ill, and slowly walks very very lame... Porters and guide are not seen anymore, and i hear only his curses* while going higher and higher. Then i see our guide comes back, and ask whats happen. Cira tries to blame the cook again for his indigestion and thats all we hear. After few minutes of more walk he resist to walk further, and says he needs some rest. He puts him self to sleep in the middle of the "land of nowhere"! Both, the guide and my self get scarred that we might have to cancel our trip and go back to Yara. We both believe thats HAS (high altitude sickness), and he stopped even speaking (bad sign for him!!).
I gave him some good water to drink and insisted that he should drink more!
After one hour of stop we packed him up and i took his lagguage. Man - i tell you, what kind of stuff he has carried... Slowly we walked and finally we reached the summit of 5000 meters. I could only walk 30 steps and i had to take some rest and again 30 steps, quite weird experience. after another one hour walk, i felt like totally thirsty, but there was not even one drop in my bottle, and still a very far walk to our next stop. Cira was sick far behind, and had also no water and the same with the guide. All of us had no water and we had such a thirst!!! I almost hallucinate water dropping from the sky, and i felt like i will be dried up and die here on this mountain peak...
Suddenly i heard in my madness - mantras recalling and from the big ice glacier from the other side of the valley i saw emanating light rays coming. Inside this light i saw suddenly Sri Lakshmi Narasimha sitting, and i got my life power back and convinced that we will make it. I really left my big ego behind, died the subtle death i have read before in other pilgrimage books on himalayas, and prayed and gave thanks for this vision. I could walk much better after this view*, and even the backpack felt like easy. Suddenly after leaving the pass fast, our porters came towards us with a big Canister of tea. When i saw this, inside my self i started to cry, as i really thought i will die here. But the Lord had other thoughts for us, and i was so happy to see how He takes care about everyone.
Coming slowly to our day stop in some shelter house called Gyumapina (4750 m) we walked more then 10 hours today. It is only a house made of rocks with a metal roof on it. We sleep in tents inside, and the night starts to be very cold allready. Tommorow we have to come over two pass of more then 5700 meters to reach our final destination Damodar Kunda. I hope that Lord Narahari carries us further!

Yara to Ghyumathanti Shelterhouse (4800m)

At 4.30 am rising from my flea sleeping bed, bitten with more then 30 bits and strangeled my self to sleep in this f...ing tent. I Hate camping... anyway no other way here in this land of No Man!
This night the horses were standing next to our tent, and one of them just farted the whole time... instead of hearing the sound of birds... anyway rising up and washing hands and feet only is also not so cool. The tibetans came out from their homes to see what im doing there. "Yes im washing my self, or at least im trying..."
Then we left Yara walking inside the dry waterbed and go for our next step towards Damodar Kund. It will take us over a pass of 4900 m and im not sure if we are well prepared. Anyway our porters storm their way forward, and i can only walk half speed of them. Anyway at least i have time to make some incredible pics. My friend cira is still possessed with his obsession of hiking along with his 18 kg backpack. Slowly we come close to Luri Gompa, one of the ancient buddhist monastery in the whole mustang region (around 11th century) and we turn left to hike in Damodar Kund direction!

Donnerstag, August 09, 2007

Tsarang - Yara (3800m)

Cliffy walk down from Tsarang to the riverbed of Sri Gandaki. Finding a funny painting of the Maoist on one of the rocky stones. They have lurked here in this area while they were fighting the goverment few years ago. That civil war have killed many people, and the Maoist got supported from china, to destabilise the area and destroy the good relationship with India. Anyhow the Maoist are in goverment now, and the situation has calmed down. But any extreme politican thought creates dictatorship and misery for human life. When will the people wake up and life on the basis what God has given?

Then we entered the river who looked from far distance like total black river. Therefore also his name "Kali" (means black in colour). We searched and found some very nice Sudarshana Salagrama silas. But also here you find so many cracked silas, with a sad meaning... (Money).
While walking in direction of Dhi Village we passed over one channel coming from the region of Damodar Kund. The next Stream from the right side, by the name "Puyong Khola" we enter to come to Yara Village, the last stop in direction to Damodar Kund. The riverbed becomes again a very extreme and narrow region while we walked towards Yara. Many caves on each side of the riverbed, engraved inside the walls high up. We come around lunch time to Yara and hve engough time to see the village people do they duties and relax for our next days of walking. The evening we cook some Noodle soup, pizza (!!!! everything on one stove) and Cake!
Tommorrow we have to take another ascent of 1500 meters higher!!! So i got scarred and chant double rounds on my mala!!!

Tamagaon - Tsarang (3620m)

I woke up from the coyote's outside yowling the whole early morning, and my desire for a shower are one of the most wanted thoughts right now... but forget anything here with water! It is said the tibetans are washing only two times in their lifes; one when they are born and the other time when they are dead... So we had to follow the same custom, but very hard for a person who is doing puja every day. I did manasa snana and a very tersely puja prayoga. In the way not very satisfactorily, but for the higher purpose one has to sacrifice...
Leaving also here early, we crawled up the sandy pass of 4000 m (see pic) and meet a very strong storm. It was so hardcore that i had to sit down for a minute and wait to pass it over me. After coming down from the pass one sees from far distance Tsarang. One of the summer residence of the ancient king of Lo Manthang. But the palace as well the attached buddhist Monastery is a hulk now. We visited the altar and some caves around, and all the old wall paintings were broken. We stayed over night in one private home, and a whole group of buddhist nun's were celebrating some pujas here. The singing sound hallowed along the valley and we started off to sleep with sweet melodies.

Samstag, August 04, 2007

Chele - Tamagaon (3750m) part 2

After having reached the pass of 3800m we had to go down again to a level of 3500m to the ancient hermitage of buddhist monks. It lies in a valley surrounded by big mountains, and i guess mostly this area is snowed down for more then half a year. We still walk over some snow parts, and have to cross over a small stream. To come to the cave again you have to walk up a bit and from far you can see the praying flags waving in the wind. Also the Cave is coloured outside with dark red, to make it a distinct place of worship. Finally we came and nocked on the door, but no one opened (later we found out that the monks had gone for some puja in some private home next village). The door where open and we entered. Suddenly a huge Cave manifested in front of us its whole opulence. A pathway lead us deep inside, and all around the walls and floor as well, sacred prayers where chiseled on the granite. One could feel the prayers still vibrating inside the air, and it is filled with smoke from the pujas etc. The cave is black smoked and some deities have manifested it self from within on the ceilings. In the middle of the cave is a ancient and huge stalagmite, representing the mount Kailash which one can circulate. In front is a big raised altar, installing Padmasambhava or also named Guru Rinpoche (the founder of tibetan buddhism) and the great teacher and reformer of tibetan buddhism Atisha (11th century) along with Avalokiteshwara, the Buddha of Mercy.
It is said Padmasambhava has fought some Demons here, and made them surrender and serve the higher doctrine of Mercy and Forgiveness. Both teachers has come here, stayed here and did some long and austere meditation in this place.
One who visits this ancient cave and walks around the Kailash*stalagmite gets the same benefit as one would go to the real Kailash in western tibet.
The cave is really impressive and we were happy to have come here. A wonderful place for retreats i guess, but not so much for the general western mind as there is NO comfort at all here.
After having done our prayers we left with fresh energy to climb up again to one pass of 3750 meters and come down to the village Tamagaon. Stayed there in our tent, got some chinese noodles for dinner and slept well after such a day of trekking.