A passage through Dolma La Pass
Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
21Trip End Sep 13, 2006
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To day we have to traverse 23 km, of which steep climb to Dolma La Pass is 6 km. Dolma La is the highest point (5550 m or 18600 ft) we touch during our entire journey. It is most difficult phase of the parikrama. We start quite early heavily clad in warm clothing as it is icy cold all through this trek. We walk for about 500 meters along right bank of stream La-Chu then leave it to climb a steep and narrow mountain trail for about half a kilometre
We now enter another valley. After a level walk for about 500 m we climb another very steep path similar to the ones we have already negotiated but more treacherous and hazardous. There is no route or trail worth the name. Slowly we cross one huge boulder after another. At long last we reach top of the climb, the Dolma-La. Here we are greeted by a short spell of snowfall. It was a surreal and awesome moment. The Tibetans believe that the trail is guarded by their goddess Dolma. It is she who made us to cross over to the top. We therefore, pray to the benevolent goddess.
I did not have the heart to make the entire distance of steep and narrow trail on foot
From Dolma La a majestic view of Mt Kailash can be had provided it is not hidden by clouds. Today it is veiled. Visually there is no snow anywhere near the pass but it may all be there under the mass of giant boulders. The hill we just crossed over is the hill of salvation and is marked by a natural rock which symbolizes Tara, the goddess of beauty. Arya-Tara or Tara-Devi or simply Tara is female Buddha as described in Tibetan Buddhist literature. The rock is bedecked with flags and festoons. We also tie a prayer flag and light incense sticks at its base.
The temperature here at 5550 meters is near freezing point. It is extremely cold. At such heights icy-cold blizzards are known to strike any time without warning and also may cause breathing problems because of rarefied air. We feel its effect but it is not distressing.
Here the majestic hills and beautiful valleys, rocks, boulders and moraine and snow, all exist in peaceful tranquillity and primordial serenity, playing with the wind, flushed with and glowing in the warm sunrays or getting wet in the rain
And so after a short stop at Dolma-La we descend on steep slope to enter into another valley. Here slightly off the route, over 50 meters deep down the slopes is the emerald green, an oval shaped lovely lake called Gauri-Kund. It is generally covered with a sheet of ice all the year round. This time however, the lake is not frozen. It is the highest lake at 18400 feet and has a maximum depth of 80 ft. It is a holy lake where Hindus believe goddess Parvati takes bath.
We now are on gentle slopes made up of huge boulders over underlying glacier. The trail is broken, there is no well defined route; in fact there is nothing to deserve the name of a path, even a trail. It's a huge field of giant broken rocks. We have to ford marshy grounds or walk over a mass of loose and tumbling stones or boulders under which a brook gurgles or glacier flows. Without a guide one is likely to be lost in these bizarre conditions. We follow the guide, trudge on wearily, some times jumping over the boulders
finally we reach our camp Zong Zerbu, in the late afternoon. It is in a beautiful site and idyllic location near the river bank at a height of 4790 m. It has very comfortable lodging on rolling grounds. In front of the camp is a hillock known as Garur (eagle) because it looks like a huge bird lying with wings spread out and with the face looking heavenwards, intently watching the cloudless blue sky. Nearly a 100 meter climb from the campsite is Zuthul Phuk Gompa.
Through out in this valley as also in La-chu valley, we saw the Tibetan sacred mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum", etched on rocks, rock pieces, stone and slabs or painted at vantage point on hill side rocks
So far I was in a state of perpetual enchantment, moving on and on as if in a trance. Now I am completely drained of energy. Fatigue takes over the body, as soon as the worry and tension of achieving the objective is over. The continuous chattering of the mind has temporarily stopped. It is vacant and empty, now calm, in a state of thoughtlessness and tranquillity; it is free and detached. And there is only happiness and joy that permeates within, as if awakened from deep slumber. It is as if doors of the mind's dark channel have been opened to allow dazzling beam of light to enters ... time stands still; there is no room for artificiality; the smile is genuine; thought are pure; duality ends, of pain and pleasure, of happiness and sorrow...the ego melts and you are in a ocean of happiness and bliss. The soul is in rapturous song. Once again you are like a child in the lap of nature; a child who is thrilled when the hills respond as he loudly talks to them, a child who plays hide and seek with the twinkling stars, a child who demands from the moon to cook 'kheer' for his desert, and a child who only gives sweet, innocent baby smile.
And I had a glimpse of such a sublime feeling... a feeling as if a burden is lifted from the mind... as if clouds covering the hills dissolve and lofty mountain shines in all its glory. The blue meandering streams continue to invite me... the dizzy heights still haunt me. I wish, I could live the moment over again. I crave for the encounter one more time... some times ...some where, once again.
Joy and happiness written in every face, for all of us have made the most difficult trek look easy by His grace on the 13th day of our yatra.