How to go on a pilgrimage?

Those three white dots are our vehicles

Before anyone embarks on a spiritual journey, one important question for the future yatri-the pilgrim must know beforehand  and be very clear in his mind regarding this aim. And that is-why he wishes to go on this pilgrimage?

As Kailash Mansarovar yatra is a difficult one, mental preparedness is most crucial. Be extremely sure that you really want to go there and discover for yourself  for which specific reasons would you like to go . Ask yourself if you are ready to devote a few months in rigorous physical training, willing to spare a few hours everyday in its homework, groundwork and training.

Find out and prepare yourself well in advance which mental and spiritual activities you wish to perform out there. For example, if you think you must do self assessment or review your life, heal a relationship or a broken heart, then become aware of your goal. If you feel that your life has become dull and stagnant, then go in the wilderness and nature to absorb the energies of creativity and come back fully re-energized. If you have a vision and  are planning your future, then too take God’s help in deciding which way you should head for. God’s directions are always right. And the most significant of all, if you want to escalate your sadhana by cleansing or washing the past sins as our religions suggest, then too one must never hesitate to accomplish that by making a trip or a yatra . Once your mind is geared up, set & firm, then get ready for-

Physical training– As the pilgrimages are mostly on the hills or mountains far away from city, the future pilgrim must devote sufficient time for physical fitness. Though our ultimate goal is other than just physical fitness, but nonetheless it is a great opportunity to give strict attention to our health which will help us all our lives. Once we return we must maintain those good health habits. Physical fitness is extremely important on this yatra and it cannot be substituted with anything else.

Assign about an hour on an average for physical exercise daily and in between about one and a half hour for building stamina and physical endurance. Towards the end of my training session, I used to walk with my bagpack before my departure which was filled up with items weighing about 3-4 kgs. On the high altitude, we walk wearing heavy woollens and carry articles like camera, medicines and water bottle. The total weight comprises about 5kgs. So one should practice walking with  some weight according to his endurance and physical fitness. Go for long walks, climb small hills or mountains in your areas and walk on the treadmill with elevation. Walk up your stairs first without weight then with weight  as much as you can. Make your body fit to withstand extra work, mental and physical fatigue and for walking on high altitudes above sea levels. Go with a clear mind that we must enjoy every moment of our stay and travel. The most  essential thing  to keep in mind- do all the general medical tests and also special tests for your physical ailments to avoid  complications and dangers while travelling. Visit your physician and physiotherapist and ask for essential precautions.

Do’s and dont’s for this very special yatra

Don’t compare this pilgrimage with other trips or pilgrimages that you may have undertaken before. This one is really different. And what makes it different? The very low amount of oxygen in the air. This one is the hardest, roughest, and most challenging of all pilgrimages. Doing the parikrama is literally ‘the mother of all treks.”

The high altitude areas in Tibet and China have very thin layer of oxygen. It can become extremely difficult to breathe in some areas and the climate changes drastically throughout the day. And the nights are very cold.Initially be very patient with yourself as the body gets accustomed to the cold and dry climate.  Before you leave for the scheduled departure, do some breathing exercises at least for a month to expand your lung capacities. Go with sufficient preparation for the atmosphere by consulting the family physician and the physiotherapist.

Don’t take excess luggage like too many clothes,  food, medicines etc. Instead take more innerwears, woollen socks etc.

Don’t take ordinary shoes like walking or tennis shoes. Buy shoes which will protect you from rainwater, cold and wind. Start surveying at least 2-3 months beforehand so that you can try them out, wear them and practice walking before your departure.

Don’t talk too much in mountainous areas. It is far better to contemplate, enjoy the beauty of the place, observe the varied cultures, languages and people on your journey. Conserve energy in every way possible.

Pack your clothes in plastic bags and plastic sheets because of unexpected rains anytime.

Eat a lot of fruits and multi- vitamins capsules before you leave for at least a month because the body is under a lot of stress and one may have poor immunity. It is a very good idea to consume vitamin C in some form during our whole journey to maintain body’s natural immunity.

Avoid beverages, caffeine and junk food as our body is unable to process and digest food quickly there.

When you calculate the total cost, take into account the yuans also as only Chinese yuans (CY) are allowed once you cross Nepal. You will need CY once you enter China. Also refer to this blog of Anil Mavin Kurve.

Do not carry heavy purses, fancy clothes and unnecessary articles, carry just the basics. Some important  things that you must buy are – a good quality waist money bag, a good quality  bag pack, a good quality camera with enough rechargeable batteries, , torch, thermos, travelling mug with a cover (to keep tea, water hot )jacket to protect from windy air and cold weather. Good all weather shoes, leather gloves, cotton and woollen socks and one extra shoelace in case one gives way. Imagine that you are trekking and the shoelace breaks at some point!! So please carry this very small but useful thing. Wet wipes, sanitizer, paper soap, sunscreen is a must for all. The higher one reaches, the lesser shops you will find .The list of things to carry is phenomenal, these are just the important ones without which you cannot do at all.

Take bangles, bindis, watches, hats & old jackets to give to sherpas and locals. The children everywhere  whether boys or girls are fascinated with this beautiful Indian thing They  always ask us to give them these small articlfor it and are very delighted if you give them I saw many small shops selling glass and plastic bangles at Kodari  in Nepal, the last stop before we enter China.

Last but not the least- mentally start living in the Himalayan mountains and the abode of God  Mt Kailash so that you begin to absorb those vibrations even before you physically leave your house. Before you set off, purify yourself of all the impure thoughts. Pray to all those divine souls to call you, to make your journey safe, to bless you and help you to walk up the ladder of spiritual evolution rapidly. There are many Buddhist and Hindu souls who after leaving their bodies, still reside there in a formless state to help the pilgrims to move upwards and make swift spiritual progress.

 Before I left I was blessed and initiated by one Buddhist lama who are  called Rinpoche in Tibetan language during a session of meditation one day. He said to me that he is from Serlung monastery. At that time, I could not imagine anything about a Buddhist monastery as I had seen none in the Himalayas. I was really, really surprised and I also discovered that when we go for such hard and testing trips, we require help from the astral world also. While I was making the final preparations, many a times he has told me telepathically what things to take and what all I should do to make my journey a success. Many things I have shared with you on this post to assist you in your preparation and training if you decide to go there sometime.

 I was very disheartened when our troupe did not show any interest in visiting the famous Serlung monastery located next to Ashtapada, the south face of Mt. Kailash. I couldn’t do much.I wish I had paid my respects and gratitude to that lama whose soul is so fervently present there and who occasionally guided me. Anyway, I dedicate this post in his honour and pray to him that he call me once more to holy Kailash with my dear ones and  that I come with much better preparedness  so that I can bow at his feet personally.

As we finish reading this post let’s chant this sacred and powerful mantra in his honour – Om Mani Padme Hum, Om Mani Padme Hum, Om Mani Padme Hum…

 Om Mani Padme Hum literally means Aum, to the jewel in the Lotus. It is widely used by the Mahayan Buddhists and is recited by the Tibetan Buddhist to invoke the Boddhisattva of compassion. It is a healing mantra and is commonly found inscribed on rocks, stupas, prayer wheels, loose stones heaped as mani or jewels on roads, mountain passes and exits and entries of villages during the journey. It is invoked to protect one from all sorts of danger in this and the next life. 









12 Responses to How to go on a pilgrimage?

  1. Shahid says:

    This is a very useful blog post. It will definitely help me when I do go on a pilgrimage. I have wanted to get out of my comfort zone and go on a pilgrimage for years now but as you wrote to me in the previous post, wait until the Time is favourable and I have no other choice but to wait.

    That picture of Om Mani Padme Hum inscribed on the stone is fascinating. Do you have any details on who wrote it as it seems Very Powerful. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Lord Buddha.

    The first picture (3 white dots vehicles) up on this blog , I was just pondering looking at it and realized how Vast God is compared to us, how vast nature is compared to tiny humans and vehicles. This picture truly makes me want to Surrender to God.

    If there was vibrant music playing now, My soul would do a jive and party all long night with the divine. This is what I feel while reading your blog entries. Your blog is a natural mood enhancer. Also I wanted to write this earlier but shall write it now that I have been having deep, deep sleep since I started reading your blogs; the quality of sleep has definitely changed like there is some BIG healing happening to me in my sleep. Have you felt the same ???

    Thank you soooooo much for sharing these practical tips Sarikaji and the beautiful, refreshing Pictures.

    • spiritinlife says:

      When you ever go to Kailash Yatra, the feeling of ourselves as very insignificant and small and God and Nature very magnificent and large erupted many times as I crisscrossed the valleys and meadows. In fact, my eyes had tears when I saw Mt. Kailash for the first time. It was so godly, so immense and beautiful and I was in utter disbelief. I told the sacred mountain -please take away all my ego, I am too small…….And you have had a similar experience by seeing that photo with 3 white dots, amazing really!
      You are saying that you feel like partying and do a jive but please know that it is actually ecstasy, only the expression is of partying and dancing. When we begin to discover the attributes about our soul, about God, we do come closer to our divine being and we are in raptures…, joy, joy……
      Healing is taking place at night and you should be thanking God for it! May you feel more energised and refreshed as days pass. Fill your heart with gratitude and love for God.
      With lots of love and many blessings

  2. Shahid says:

    I love the music in this video, soooooo soothing. It has chanting of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. Also wonderful pictures of life of Lord Buddha. (It is best to set the youtube video to 480p for clear viewing quality. Just press the round wheel like button/icon on bottom right hand side of the video player. When you place the mouse over it, you will see ” Change Quality” so just press that icon and select 480p. It is best to do this for all youtube videos or else the picture quality is quite poor. This is for those who didn’t know this. )

    • spiritinlife says:

      I enjoyed listening to this soothing mantra a lot Shahid. In fact, when I was in Tibet for Kailash Yatra, the driver played it many times but I did not know what the words were. The driver knew none of the languages Hindi or English so could not ask him. The pictures are very beautiful and I don’t visit You Tube at all because of lack of time so all the more thanks for sending me the selected videos, it is wonderful. It took me back to Tibet’s mountains once again. Great!

  3. Shahid says:

    Happy to read this post today.

    Thank you soooooooooooooo much ❤

  4. Kiran says:

    Ma, Read this particular post for the first time. It has lot of useful tips. Thank you.

    I love to visit this holy site sometime. I hope I’ll get that opportunity.

    Om Mani Padme Hum, Om Mani Padme Hum, Om Mani Padme Hum…

  5. pulkit745 says:

    Dear Ma,

    Thank you for penning your experience and also giving us a direction in terms of mental and physical preparation for this hhighest pilgrimage. I am set to begin my journey to Kailash Mansarover next week and I want to get completely dissolved in the place. I also want to introspect on my life and align my priorities while being in the presence of the divine energy over there.

    Thank you Ma and earnestly looking forward to your blessings for this journey and the opportunity that it offers.


    • spiritinlife says:

      Dear Pulkit, I guess very few people know the real power and significance of Mt. Kailash apart from religious beliefs. One of our other devotees will be doing the same pilgrimage around the same time I think so. (Ruby Nair)Hope you both make the most of it. The mountain is like a huge pyramid and immense energies are vibrating from this pyramid for our own welfare. A new beginning can be made in the lives of people by meditating and praying in this vicinity apart from releasing one’s sins of many lives. Whatever it is, one must be very introverted and serious in making this challenging trip and hard trek and pilgrimage. I pray to God that you get clarity of mind and wisdom to introspect and align your priorities so that you can move ahead on your spiritual path. And yes, do attempt to make special effort to surge upwards and lift your consciousness. The atmosphere will be very right for you. God bless you dear child. Yours Ma

  6. Dear Ma,

    Humble Pranams. Please accept my sincere apologies for not being able to write my experience on the holy pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar for the past few weeks. I hope this narration inspires others to make this journey a new possibility in their lives.

    Until three years ago, I used to think of Kailash as a mystical and inaccessible space where Lord Shiva resides. When I became aware that it can actually be visited, a deep curiosity filled in me and I read about the mysticism behind the mountain. It still appeared to be an unattainable dream because of the time and costs involved. Little did I knew, that I was in the process of becoming a little more receptive to the abundant energies and possibility that this holy place has to offer. When the right time came, everything fell into place this August, 2016.

    I was lucky to be part of a well-organized group where I did not have to think about any transport, food and accommodation issues. The best facilities were provided to the yatri’s most of whom were spiritual meditators. I was humbled by the service provided by the Sherpas (Nepali high altitude helpers) all along the way. In a climate where we could hardly breathe, they were running around with our luggage, and preparing our food before our arrival to each place in time and yet maintaining a cheerful demeanor all the time. I truly owe the success of this Yatra to them and all the facilitators behind this expedition.

    We started from Kathmandu to Lhassa by air, and then travelled for 3 full days by road to reach Mansarovar lake. Three days of road journey was a lot of time to contemplate and absorb the natural beauty of Tibet which was turned more and more blissful as we progressed. The landscape transformed from dry Ladakh kind of scenery to lush green land with snowy hill tops. If there is anything that is close to describing heaven on earth, this is the place. Even though I had previously travelled in the upper Himalayan regions, I have never seen such divine beauty. The greens, blues and everything in between had a different hue in that region. The air was absolutely pure. There was hardly any signs of inhabitation for hundreds of kilometers and the entire area was virgin barring the newly built road on which we rode. Looking at the scenery itself was a preparation for me as it humbled me even further to see how nature can surprise us and to which extent and variety. As we progressed the air became thinner and temperature cooler. Doctors were constantly monitoring oxygen levels and a feeling of excitement was setting in. Many measures were taken to avoid altitude sickness.

    Upon touching Mansarovar at 4300m the caravan halted to take a break and absorb the place as well. It was a point from where Mt. Kailash was soaring high above the rest of the ranges, with all might, quite ahead of us. Lake Mansarovar was on left. Since it had been raining, a beautiful rainbow welcomed us from the right. This was the beginning of the series of breathtaking sights our senses would imbibe over the next 4 days. Accommodation in the higher regions of Tibet were very basic and without toilets. I highly appreciated this because a pilgrimage in the mountains is supposed to make us go through hardships and break our mental barriers so that we forget our ego’s that we built back in the cities. We are still very lucky to have so much more convenience in traversing the highest region of the world than ancient times. It is also necessary to maintain the beauty and keep the holy land unpolluted.

    The sight of the lake inspires infinite stillness. One can spend hours on its banks just gazing or meditating. There was some mention of celestial and other worldly beings present in the lake and few people also spotted mysterious lights at night. Without any such experience, I was awestruck and mesmerized by the lake. I climbed up to a small hilltop monastery nearby and the sight that I saw was forever printed in my mindscape. The surface of turquoise colored lake water, surrounded by snow clad round shaped mountains on one side, Mt. Kailash and its surrounding range on the other, heavy clouds dropping rain in one area, Rakshas Tal (the counterpart lake of Mansarovar) on the back with a setting sun and a rising moon! I could not have imagined such a sight until I saw one. This region is 360 degrees open with dozens of kilometers of visibility in the atmosphere. Thus such magnificent views are available for us to experience and imbibe.

    I was humbled even more by the love of the helping team which gave us hot drinks and food in the coldest of weather. The nature which made me gaze continuously in silence no matter how many times I look at the same scenery. The tranquility of the place which was ideal for my soul to flower and the grace of the countless Guru’s and Shiva himself which had given us this opportunity to experience something which could take us lifetimes if we were not at their mercy.

    The trek to Mount Kailash started on the outer parikrama from a small temple called Yamadwar. From there, the south face of the holy mountain gleamed at us in the morning sun. We had opted for porters as walking in that altitude itself was difficult, let alone carrying our bags. I did not interact with anyone on the trek and kept chanting Shiva-Shambho to be in the lap of grace. 5-6 hours of walking induced tiredness. The mountain weather is ever changing. From being sunny and hot and it can suddenly become misty and cold. When I reached the camp-site, it had started raining. Rain gear and protection from cold (from head to toe) is very important on this trek. Many of the pilgrims were still on the way and had been caught up in rain. Despite my tiredness, I wanted to do serve the incoming pilgrims with tea. Helped the medical team in setting up beds and attending to patients as many people had fallen short of oxygen and became sick on the way due to cold and rain. A few hours of volunteering continued and I realized I was still enthusiastic about going out towards Kailash which appears as if I can stretch my arms and touch it’s feet, but was actually residing a few kilometers deep inside the inner parikrama. I had completely forgotten about my tired body and headache. Such is the grace of the lord, that when I submit myself to serving others, my wellbeing is automatically taken care of! The night sky in the area was full of stars decorated as silver-white specks, big and small, countless in numbers and made the whole area illuminated with their light. It felt as if the whole universe is present and pouring their blessings in that sacred site. Such a sky is never visible in low lands and polluted air. It was worth strolling for this heavenly feet even at minus 10 degrees. In the dark I sat for some time, on a rock facing Kailash, adorned with a silver blanket, lit by the crescent moon and stars. Gusting of extremely cold winds and a distant pony-bell was the only sound I heard for a long time.

    Was I able to imbibe and absorb even a tiny bit of spiritual and mystical knowledge and make any tangible changes in my life, I honestly do not know until now. In my experience, I had merged with Kailash for a few moments. At the end of the return trek, when I turned and looked back at the mountain for the last time, I had no prayers but only tears. Tears of gratitude for calling me all the way to the most revered space for redemption by all sages and seers. From a sundry life that I lead to the abode of the enlightened where very few have trespassed. For letting me experience its majesty, its beauty and its grandeur. For showering me with blessings which I might not realize in years or lives to come.

    Om Namah Shivaya

    • spiritinlife says:

      How very, very beautiful dear Pulkit, your narration was so impeccable! Well written. I went back to 2010 year when I visited this wonderful place. May God give highest realizations and countless blessings on your spiritual journey.May you soar high!
      Just a small request! Please copy paste this whole narration and replicate it on a post- A journey that was truly… sacred and beautiful-Kailash Mansarovar. People will get a lot of help from your comment.
      Yours Ma

      • Dear Ma,

        Thank you for your blessing as it gives me strength always. No matter what I achieve I still feel that I have just begun my journey.

        I lived through my experience and wrote it yesterday. I am so glad that it came out better than my expectations. I have replicated it on the previous article.


        • spiritinlife says:

          Yes, Pulkit I saw the pictures of your journey to Kailash Mansarovar, they are very fascinating and beautiful. They will be a source of great help to all even to passerby on this blog. I liked all of them, wonderful!

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