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Did their Mt. Kailash, Mansarovar Yatra Bring Himalayan Snow to Texas?

Kailash-in-7

By Malik Putcha & Nutan Iyer

HOUSTON: Ever since July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong, the first man to land on the Moon, uttered his famous words, “Houston, the Eagle has landed”, this city had been associated with “daring and can- do attitude spirited” individuals.

And a daring group of eleven Houstonian Indo-Americans, inculcated and imbibed with that dauntless spirit, undertook a fifteen-day pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and a Mansarovar Yatra this past September 4 to18. All of them are retired or semi-retired and dreamt of this expedition for a long time.

Mount Kailash (Credit: Ramesh Chaudary, Karnali Excursions)

Mount Kailash (Credit: Ramesh Chaudary, Karnali Excursions)

The group consisted of Nutan Iyer, a Systems Engineer and her husband R. K. Iyer, an Industrial Engineer; Asha Jain, a retired software engineer; Raju Nandagiri, a histotechnologist, with MD Anderson Cancer Center and her husband Showri Nandagiri, the retired Deputy Director, and Civil Engineer for the City of Houston; Lakshmi Narayana, a retired research assistant at MDACC and her husband Dr. Narayana Ponnada, Chair, Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas Health Science Center; Mallik Putcha, a retired software and project management specialist, NASA contractor community; Kumari Susarla, a retired medical technologist and Arun Tewari, a sports and fitness freak and his wife Usha Tewari, a retired marine engineer.

The Daring and Dauntless at the start of their journey at the Radisson, Kathmandu on September 6. From left, rear Arun Tewari, R. K. Iyer, Narayana Ponnada, Showri Nandagiri and Asha Jain. Front from left, Usha Tewari, Nutan Iyer, Lakshmi Narayana, Raju Nandagiri, Kumari Susarla, Mallik Putcha

The Daring and Dauntless at the start of their journey at the Radisson, Kathmandu on September 6. From left, rear Arun Tewari, R. K. Iyer, Narayana Ponnada, Showri Nandagiri and Asha Jain. Front from left, Usha Tewari, Nutan Iyer, Lakshmi Narayana, Raju Nandagiri, Kumari Susarla, Mallik Putcha

They were inspired by a September 2016 Facebook posting of the same yatra completed by a fellow Houstonian, Dr. Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, a Chemical Engineering in the Energy Capital of the World. Hopefully, this article will inspire Houstonians to travel and visit nature all across the world to get energized and refreshed.

The Most Sanctified KMY-Eleven at Manasarovar on September 10. From left, Lakshmi, Narayana, RK, Mallik, Raju, Showri, Nutan, Kumari, Usha, Arun (Asha is missing, gone for Ice-cream)

The Most Sanctified KMY-Eleven at Manasarovar on September 10. From left, Lakshmi, Narayana, RK, Mallik, Raju, Showri, Nutan, Kumari, Usha, Arun (Asha is missing, gone for Ice-cream)

The preliminaries for this excursion started on September 4 with a flight over Mount Everest, Gowishankar and other mountains in the range; visits to Guhyeshware (Shakthi), Jala Vishnu, Pashupatinath, Doleshwarmahadev, and the reclining Vishnu at Budhanilkantha temples.

The adventurous yatra began on September 6 with a flight to Lhasa (see the map), continued on a sightseeing trip to the Patola Palace; drive to Shigatse, following the holy Brahmaputra River to reach Saga. Then, we drove to Lake Mansarovar, and made the first darshan of the holy Mt. Kailash and took a ritual holy dip in Mansarovar Lake. The exhilaration and exuberance of one’s spirit and mind after viewing Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar with no one between you and Lord Shiva can only be experienced and note decribed. That was a moment of Life to be savored!!

The three ladies (from left) Usha Tewari, Asha Jain, Raju Nandagiri at Dronga after completing Parikrama of Mount Kailash (height 18,750ft) on September 16.

The three ladies (from left) Usha Tewari, Asha Jain, Raju Nandagiri at Dronga after completing Parikrama of Mount Kailash (height 18,750ft) on September 16.

The next day, we performed a havan and puja on the banks of Lake Mansarovar and then drove to Tirthapuri and onward to Darchen. This was the starting point of the Parikrama (circumambulation) of Mount Kailash: Hindus circumambulate Mount Kailash clockwise and Buddhists perform their Kora anticlockwise. We continued our drive to Tharboche; and then trekked to Diraphuk to get an amazing darshan and close-up view of the North face of Mt. Kailash.

At this stage, we encountered a little setback in the yatra and had to initiate emergency medical evacuation since Putcha suffered acute mountain sickness (due to low levels of oxygen at an altitude of 15,000ft) and Lakshmi fell off the horse (which had twisted its foot on the mountainous terrain) and injured and fractured her right shoulder. After receiving first aid, Hira Dhamala, the Managing Director of Karnali Excursions, quickly arranged for ground transportation for these two people, plus Narayana and Bhisnu Dhamala, our yatra medical person, for treatment at the hospital at Darchen. From there, the injured duo with Narayana and Bhisnu were taken by helicopter to Kathmandu, Nepal for treatment at the International Hospital. Mallik was released after 48-hours of observation and Lakshmi had to undergo shoulder surgery and recovery for a week at the hospital. Fortunately, both have since recovered quickly.

KMY Eleven back to the pavilion, November 7; from left, Narayana Ponnada, Lakshmi Narayana, Asha Jain, Mallik Putcha, Nutan Iyer, R. K. Iyer, Usha Tewari, Arun Tewari, Kumari Susarla, Raju Nandagiri, Showri Nandagiri.

KMY Eleven back to the pavilion, November 7; from left, Narayana Ponnada, Lakshmi Narayana, Asha Jain, Mallik Putcha, Nutan Iyer, R. K. Iyer, Usha Tewari, Arun Tewari, Kumari Susarla, Raju Nandagiri, Showri Nandagiri.

After staying overnight at Diraphuk, the remaining nine “undaunted” started the hardest part of the Parikrama, the trek to the Dolma La Pass; darshan of Gauri Kunda; trek down to Zuthulphuk Gompa; trek to Tangsar and drive to Darchen to complete the Parikrama. The real “Dauntless” heroines are Asha, Raju, and Usha who completed the Parikrama and deserve kudos from the group as well as the “can-do” Houstonians.

The return journey took us on a drive to Drongba/Saga via Mansarovar Lake; then on to Lhasa; and ended with a flight to Kathmandu where the yatra concluded with a ceremony and an evening aarti at the Pashupatinath Temple. Putcha along with few others from the group of thirty-three continued to Mukinath, Lumbini, and Gajendra Dham from September 19 to 25.

Snow in Houston December 7. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Eleven take Credit from bringing snow from the Himalayas to Houston

Snow in Houston December 7. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Eleven take Credit from bringing snow from the Himalayas to Houston

The impressive food arrangements, logistics and travel arrangements for the Eleven Houstonians were made by Karnali Excursions whose Managing Director Hira Dhamala, staff Sarla Dave, Yoga and Dhyan Lead, guide Ramesh Chaudary and others in their group of thirteen made this yatra pleasant and memorable.

As we say farewell to 2017, let us hope and pray that Lord Shiva, who is worshipped by the chanting of Rudrams in multiples of Eleven, will inspire 2018 or beyond batch(es) of Kailashvasis – may be 112 (or 121), 113 (or 1331) and 114 (or 14,641) Houstonians, Texans, or Americans – to get motivated and energized to by visiting Mount Kailash and sanctify themselves with a dip in Mansarovar Lake. Aum Namah Shivaya !!!

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8 Responses to Did their Mt. Kailash, Mansarovar Yatra Bring Himalayan Snow to Texas?

  1. Thangavelu February 16, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    A great once in a Life time Spiritual and endurance testing trip. Congratulations.

  2. Dr. Seshagiri V. Pabbisetty January 26, 2018 at 4:33 am

    Namasthe. Thanks for the illustrative article on the yatra. Main question I have is about the physical condition pre-requisites and prep. one got to do before heading to the yatra. How a person with restrained mobility could accomplish?

  3. Dr. Seshagiri V. Pabbisetty January 26, 2018 at 4:30 am

    Namasthe. Thanks for the illustrative article on the yatra. Main question I have about the physical condition pre-requisites and prep. One got to do before heading to the yantra. How a person with restrained mobility could accomplish?

  4. Gita January 19, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Awesome

  5. Naren Iyer December 23, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Fantastice and spiritual journey into your inner strength and spirit!

  6. Vikas Moharir December 23, 2017 at 7:36 am

    10 Houstonians also completed the same yatra that started on 15th August in Kathmandu. It is an amazing experience and congratulations to the KMY Eleven Group.

  7. Mallik Putcha December 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you, IAN Folks

  8. Uma December 22, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Awesome!

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