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Kailash Mansarovar: Mountain trek or religious pilgrimage

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By Akash Shukla

 The idea of a trek has a sense of achievement but the idea of a pilgrimage is to subdue self.

Dominating with a 21778 ft high presence, the herculean but majestic Mount Kailash is any day more than just a mountain. It’s a legend. It’s a revelation. It’s an epiphany.

It’s not a sojourn but a journey that occurs both within and outside. Amazingly situated in the Himalayan range of the remote South Western corner of Tibet, Kailash is not only one of the highest spots of the world but a very significant seat of spirituality in the world.

It’s a source of four mighty rivers of Asia— Sutlej, Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra. From different religions across the world, millions of people revere this seat of spirituality.

Kailash important for Hindus, Jains & Budddists

Hinduism: According to the Hindu faith, lord Shiva, the destroyer of illusion and ignorance, rests at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailash. Here, he sits in a state of perennial meditation along with his wife Parvati. He is not just the ultimate ascetic but also the divine master of Tantra.

In accordance with the Hindu belief, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called Manasarovar. It is a combination of words, namely, ‘Manas’ (mind) and ‘Sarovar’ (lake).

One description in Vishnu Purana about the mountain states that its four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli.

It is a pillar of the world and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus.

Jainism: In Jainism, Kailash is relished as Meru Parvat or Sumeru. Ashtapada, the mountain next to Mt Kailash, is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva, attained nirvana.

Buddhism: Tantric Buddhists believe that Mount Kailash is dwelling of Buddha Demchok (also known as Chakrasamvara). He represents supreme bliss.

Above everything, the journey to Kailash Mansarovar is a life-changing experience for countless pilgrims who undertake it every year; it teaches them a sense of self like nothing else can.

A sojourner who chooses to be at this roof of the world might feel that the journey is arduous but on the way, it becomes a rewarding one.

Tears in heaven

After the political and border disturbances across the Chinese-Indian boundary, pilgrimage to the legendary abode of Lord Shiva was stopped in 1954 till 1978. Since then, only a limited number of Indian pilgrims are granted permission. Under the eyes of Chinese and Indian governments, either by a lengthy trek over the Himalayan terrain or journey from Lhasa where flights from Kathmandu are available to Lhasa, the journey takes four night stops.

Despite minimal infrastructure, modest guest houses are available for foreign pilgrims while Tibetan pilgrims generally sleep in their own tents.

Kailash: A beginning with no end

Every single traveler of this incredible journey undergoes a humbling and enlightening transformation, which cannot be described, but can only be felt in first person presence…

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A Clean Ganga Not Possible Without Continuous Flow: Green

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made

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The Holy River Ganga in Haridwar, Source: Pixabay

By Bappaditya Chatterjee

The Centre’s efforts to rejuvenate the Hindu holy river have failed to impress environmentalists, who feel a clean Ganga will remain a distant dream due to the Modi government’s failure to ensure the continuous flow of the river.

“Nothing has been done for ensuring a continuous flow of the river and also for its rejuvenation by the Narendra Modi government. Continuity is of supreme importance as the holy river has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit for many years. But the Centre is trying to treat its teeth,” said Magsaysay awardee and a member of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), Rajendra Singh.

Spending crores of rupees for beautification of ghats has been “wastage of the public exchequer” because “without ensuring a continuous flow, clean Ganga will continue to remain a distant dream”, said Rajendra Singh, who goes by the sobriquet “Waterman of India”.

 

Ganga, travel
River Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in India. Pixabay

Soon after assuming office, the Modi government rolled out its flagship “Namami Gange” mission at an estimated budget Rs 20,000 crore to clean and protect the Ganga.

 

Under Namami Gange, 254 projects worth Rs 24,672 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as construction of sewage infrastructure, ghats, development of crematoria, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation and public participation.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, 131 projects out of 254 were sanctioned for creating 3,076 MLD (million litre per day) new sewage treatment plants (STPs), rehabilitating 887 MLD of existing STPs and laying 4,942 km of sewer lines for battling pollution in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.

 

River Ganga is one of the holiest, yet the most polluted river.
River Ganga is also the most polluted river.

Till November-end of the 2018-19 fiscal, the National Mission for Clean Ganga released Rs 1,532.59 crore to the states and the Central Public Sector Undertakings for implementing the programme and meeting establishment expenditure.

Rajendra Singh said: “Ganga wants freedom today. There is no need for any barrage or dam. We want building of dams and any constructions on the river be stopped.”

 

Echoing Singh, another member of the now dissolved NGRBA, K.J. Nath, said the flow of the river had been obstructed at many locations and its own space (flood plains) encroached upon at multiple places in the name of riverfront development.

However, Jayanta Bandyopadhayay, a former Professor of IIM-Calcutta and presently Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the success or otherwise of initiatives and projects of any government in cleaning the Ganga cannot be judged in a five-year time frame.

Also Read: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates Bogibeel Bridge Over Brahmaputra River

Managing a river like the Ganga, the lifeline of a very large number of people, is socio-technically a very complex issue and should be addressed with deep interdisciplinary knowledge, he added.

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made from the one dimensional perspective of rivers by engineers, political leaders, policymakers and others to a multidimensional and interdisciplinary one. (IANS)