I remember going on summer vacations to different parts of the country as a child. It was a family trip, with almost same-age cousins, which made it more exciting and fun. The family trips used to be memorable and hilarious. The packing of clothes, food, big jugs of water, confirmation of train tickets at the last moment, and booking a hotel after reaching the destination. The whole trip used to be based on a trial and error method as the hotel rooms were not confirmed, the tickets were in dilemma, etc. 

As each of us grew up, the schedule of studies, jobs, etc. did not match or were not in sync. Everyone left for vacations on their own availability and comfort. The trips were made hassle-free with online booking, free cancellation, more sources of transportation, etc. The trips became more affordable and efficient. We usually imagine going on trips with our family, friends, and colleagues or joining an adventure group. Going on a solo trip has been trending for the past few years. Certain hotspots for Solo trips include places like Leh, Ladakh, Kedarkantha, Manimahesh, Kailash Mansarovar, etc. in India. 

According to me, India is one of the safest, most affordable, and best countries for a female to have a solo trip. Here is my personal experience of the solo trip I did last year to Mansarovar. For the last few years, I have indulged in the spiritualized infinity world by reading various religious texts, searching about the events that occurred, asking my elders to elaborate, etc. My quest has increased since then and the prime reason has been the Kailash Manasarovar yatra. This important and once-in-a-lifetime experience has been very sacred to all religions; Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist. Thanks to technology, it made me just a click away to know about the entire pilgrimage. 

In India, the Ministry of External Affairs and many spiritual groups organize this pilgrimage in June every year. The selection in the group to this yatra is an achievement in itself; feels like you have cleared the toughest entrance exam and obtained an All India rank!!! The initial process includes a visa, medical checkup, etc. and if one is fit to go; they are permitted for the Kailash. I was indeed in the “spiritual 60”, medically fit, visa approved and all set as Rudradev was calling me!! The route to this yatra has four alternatives from India; ours began from the Pashupatinath temple in Nepal. This 15-day spiritual journey is like getting all the answers to one unending thought, making peace with thyself, and just being with the Trilochana. People from all age groups, with utmost faith and enthusiasm, were in our group, it was like a new family. The Indian government along with Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam and the Government of China have collaborated to look after this pilgrim; group visa, transportation, stay, etc. 

I had seen many posts of the yatra on the online platform about the dos and don’ts like, not carrying too much luggage as we had to trek around the Kailash Mountain although renting a horse is always an option, not to run around here and there as one sound health and strength is the most important thing in the entire yatra. The flight from Kathmandu landed us in Darchen, Tibet region where our health checkup occurred once again and document verification by the Chinese government. The area had all the essential things one could grab if needed like thermals, packed foods, etc. The stay was welcomed with open arms and warmth from the localites and they even briefed us about the upcoming parikrama. 

The next day we hit the road in the eco-friendly bus to begin our yatra at Yam dwar. The place is marked as the beginning of the sacred yatra and many of our folks performed prayers and rituals marking their faith and respect for the lord. The walk of life had begun, the pictures I had seen on the internet were coming alive, the stories I heard from my elders were coming to life and all I could think, say, feel was Har har Mahadev!!!!!!! Every spiritual member, trek enthusiast, localite, and even the horses walking alongside had this peaceful smile on their faces, marking that we all were destined to be here. This was the first time I did not want to record, click, or post a photo or video but just wanted to be with him; the Neelkanth. The parikrama of the Kailash Mountain occurs in two manners; the outer and inner parikrama. The outer parikrama is 52 KM with 2-3 stops depending on the health of the pilgrim. The inner parikrama includes the charansparsh from Deraphuk. We had taken the outer parikrama route from yam dwar to Deraphuk on day one.

 The 10KM trek had transportation availability, with which all of us had energy till we reached the deraphuk monastery. It is marked in our religious texts that the time from 3 AM onwards is known as Brahma mahurat and as we were in the home of the lord, we had an auspicious opportunity to feel the divine and see the first glimpse of Mt Kailash. The first rays of sun falling on the abode was like revealing a precious element that stands tall and strong protecting all of us. The aura at dawn was at its peak, it was like the lord came in person to meet us, a mixture of emotions, and delight, caught between real and surreal, his mystical presence was felt by each one of us. I felt like just sitting there in front of him and watching, talking, praying, and just befriending him!!! But we had to depart to collect more of his glimpses and move ahead in the spiritual journey. 

The second leg of the yatra was a 22KM trek to Drolma La where the magnificent Gauri Kund is situated. Our stay in the nearby monastery was rejuvenating due to the celestial environment, generous localites, and enthusiastic team members. Due to the drop in temperature, and thin air, many people feel nausea because of which they are advised to stay back in the monastery and others continue their yatra towards Zuthul phuk. The yatra does not entirely cover the Kailash Mountain as it begins from Darchen and ends at Zuthul phuk; which is 3/4th of the parikrama.

 On our way back we stayed at the banks of Lake Manasarovar which was as sanctified as our parikrama and would be incomplete without immersing ourselves in the holy water. Every one of us had never felt so complete and satisfied. The hustling bustling lifestyle and the city lights had made me all blind and deaf but the embrace of the holy water and walking alongside Shiva made me spiritually alive leaving behind all the unnecessary baggage I carried in my mind. This is the only place where I did not want to indulge in buying souvenirs for my loved ones but only collecting the water of Manas as a Prasad and blessing from Shiva. The Yatra was time bound, visa bound, but even today I can feel the revered silence of the mountain, the gushing rivers alongside, the comforting Manas lake like a mother's arm embracing her child, and the simplicity, significance, and strength of the lord showed me in form of Mt Kailash. I have visited many places in India as well as abroad but this journey stands apart and above every other journey as it was not about exploring the city but exploring me. Since then, I’ve been growing internally and spiritually and always wanting to be back to the abode of Mahakal….just to have a word with him!!!!!

The ICHHORI website is spreading strength through its articles. It has been successful enough to deliver correct and accurate information on women's laws, health, lifestyle, etc. 

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