White and crimson spectacle

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The snow-clad Adi Kailash presents a splendid sight

It was a dream come true when I accomplished an arduous journey to Adi Kailash, despite backache and dwindling stamina. After all, I had crossed many valleys, traversing 160 km to reach the place. It is a replica of the holy Kailash and the Mansarovar in China. The trail to Adi Kailash branches off at Gunji following the course of River Kuti along the Tibetan border. Till the Gunji river, the Kali forms a natural border with Nepal. Up till Budi en-route Malpa, I encountered huge waterfalls and wind. It was not possible to cross over without getting drenched. There was fear of losing grip on the boulders that had smoothened over time. Intermittently, signboards warned us to watch out for falling stones.

Heaps of boulders

At Malpa, heaps of boulders were reminiscent of the 1998 devastation that razed an entire village. A statue of Lord Siva has been enshrined in memory of those who had lost their lives and, on this route, people greet each other with "Om namah Shivai". The trek to Chhiyalekh Pass (3320m) is steep for the next three km but is filled with rhododendrons and wild roses. As one reaches the top of the Pass, the enchanting view of the Annapurna Range in Nepal unfolds and meadows laden with multi-hued flowers take away the fatigue.After ITBP verified our permits, a prerequisite for entering inner line border areas, we travelled down towards Garbyang village. This sleepy village has been a mute spectator to Nature's fury. The residents had fled fearing their houses would collapse. By evening, we reached Gunji, situated at the confluence of rivers Kuti and Kali. The Kali begins its journey from Kailash Mansarovar in China while the Kuti from Adi Kailash.The mountains were devoid of vegetation. We had to cope with the lack of oxygen. A pathway dotted with bricks painted in white and green and the signboard "Doorway to Adi Kailash" heralds one to Kuti village, which is named after Kunti. The houses are made of huge stone blocks and surrounded by a brightly textured landscape. Chill winds could not freeze our high spirits and we left early at 6 a.m. towards Jolingkong (4,572 metres). The first glimpse of Adi Kailash made us forget the arduous journey. Adi Kailash was at its best, beyond description. The white snow-clad peak was soaked in the crimson hue of a new-born sun. Its image in the calm waters of Parbati Sarovar was like a mirage that soon mingled with the ripples. It took an hour to do the three-kilometre parikrama around the lake. River Kuti, whose course we had been following, is born from Parbati Sarovar. It seemed that we had walked along a vein to reach the heart. SONITA KATARIA




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