Posted by : Prajna LS March 20, 2014

 
Image credit: Prajna L S
Kailash–Manas Sarovar Yatra is one of the toughest spiritual yatras of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist traditions. The author of this write up has been one of those fortunate pilgrims to accomplish the three day Kailash Parikrama successfully. So, in this series of articles, she would be sharing her experience. She would make an attempt to perceive the significance of this particular yatra.
The present series would introduce the destination by providing useful information and tips concerning the yatra. This series of articles is based on the Kailash Yatra 2013.
I begin by introducing the concept called ‘Yatra’ itself. It can roughly be translated as ‘pilgrimage’, but, a ‘Yatra’ for an Indian has wider implications. It is not just visiting the holy places and sites.
In fact, in Indian way of living a particular term called ‘Yatra’ is used for making a journey. Yatra means journey and it also means a particular kind of procession or gathering at some specific places at some specific time. Roughly, you could term it as ‘pilgrimage’ but no rituals are mandatory in Indian pilgrimages. Yatra is a ritual. A metaphor. A spiritual journey.
A yatra can be done by visiting ancient holy cities, birth places of deities, temples, rivers, lakes and mountains. These kinds of Yatras are usually known as ‘Teertha Yatras’ that means the journey to holy locations. It is a kind of ritual to be performed.
Hindus perform rituals at river banks for their ancestors. However, India consists of various other traditions also. So, ‘Yatras’ are done by devotees following other than Hindu traditions. Char Dham Yatra, Kailas Manas Sarovar Yatra, Amarnath Yatra, Shaktipeeth Yatra, Jyotirling Yatra, Kashi-Rameshwar Yatra…India consists of innumerable ‘Yatra’ locations.
Sometimes at river confluences rituals would be held, and devotes throng at the confluences in huge numbers. This kind of gathering at river banks is called ‘Mela’ and a journey to participate in such Melas is also a part of Yatra tradition. Kumbha Mela and Maha Kumbha Melas are two well known ‘Melas’ in India conducted at river banks.
Most of you must have heard of the Jagannath Ratha Yatra at Puri, Orissa. This unique kind of Yatra is held every year by celebrating a ritualistic journey of the deity. This is a celebration by pulling the Temple Chariot on which the deity will be placed. These ritualistic Yatras will be held in many other places of India.
Kailash-Manas Sarovar Yatra is considered the ultimate among all yatras in India. One needs to be fit both mentally and physically to ‘perform’ this yatra. I have deliberately used the word ‘perform’ since I see this yatra as a kind of ‘ritual’ to be performed.
It was by chance I joined the yatra. Usually the Ministry of External Affairs conducts this tour every year. But, this year due to the havoc created by Monsoon rains in the Uttarakhand region the Government had cancelled the yatra. However, we went by a private tourist agency named Nirmala Travels. This travel agency located in Bangalore has tied up with a Nepali travel agency named Shrestha Travels.
In the next post you would know about the route map of Kailash Yatra and about the things to carry for Kailash Manas Sarovar Yatra!

[To be continued…]

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