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the-south-asian Life & Times                 January - March 2011

 

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Mt. Kailash

Stairway to Heaven

By Akhil Bakshi

  

Never wanting to miss an opportunity to get my sin-meter back to zero, I headed for Lake Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet. A dip in the holy lake and a 42km circumambulation of the mountain would release me from the sins of a hundred births and catapult me straight to the paradise of Lord Brahma.

The delayed and heavy monsoon had shattered the mountain road between Kathmandu and Kodari , high above the Bhote River. A vintage bus with balding tyres brought us to the border post, skidding and sliding over massive landslides. Crossing the Friendship Bridge we entered Tibet. Our group, organised by Shrestha Holidays, comprised of 16 pilgrims and a support staff of cooks and sherpas. In blinding rain we drove to Nyalam, 35km from the Nepal border, through the gorge of the Matsang Tsangpo. Waterfalls hammered us from above and the frightening roar of the river kept us on the edge. Nepalese traders called Nyalam the "Gate to Hell" because the track from the town to the border was so treacherous and terrifying. Sixteen years ago I had driven on this route on a dark, thunderous, rainy night and knew what they meant. However, the Chinese have now built a spanking new road, tarred and secured, that comforts the nerves and allows you to enjoy the magnificent scenery with hundreds of waterfalls falling from the wooded mountains.

 

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