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Abode of the gods

June 20, 2008
As devotees prepare for the arduous annual trek to Kailas Manasarovar, Tarun Vijay reflects on that most sublime of spiritual experiences -- a pilgrimage to Shiva's home.

A group of atheists had accompanied us during an earlier pilgrimage to Kailas Manasarovar. I still recall them standing, frozen in place by their first glimpse of Mount Kailas; I saw tears of pure joy running down their faces -- and I was not surprised.

If there is one place on this planet where God can be touched and felt, it has to be the Kailas Manasarovar region -- it is indescribable, beyond the power of words to capture; it is perhaps the one experience that defines the state of being.

The trek is often called a pilgrimage, but it is so much more -- the fulfillment of a dream, a realisation of life's highest aspirations. People let themselves in for uncertainty, for incredible hardship, year after year because they know that what is in store for them is not simple anand, joy, but sachidanand, sublime joy.

It is for this experience that people wait a lifetime, offering up prayers to god to grant them an opportunity to go on this journey of self-realisation. That is one of the unique aspects of this trek -- unlike routine pilgrimages to even venerated sites, which you make when you want to, the trek to Kailas is not about your schedule. Trite though it seems to say this, the 'call' has to come; for some, it never does during their lifetimes; for others, who dream of this for years, suddenly it all falls into place and often in completely unexpected fashion, they find themselves readying for an experience they have dreamt about. I had the good fortune to get such a 'call', to go on a pilgrimage that brought me such bliss at the time, and that now feels like a dream.

Image: For pilgrims, this first frontal view of the legendary abode of Lord Shiva is the culmination of a lifetime's hopes and dreams.

Also see: Amarnath Yatra: Pilgrims' Progress
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