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Gosainkunda's highs and lows

DHANVANTARI by BUDDHA BASNYAT, MD


On Aug 23, Janai Purnima eve, Gosainkunda Lake (4300m) will witness the climactic enactment of one of the greatest Puranic traditions. Before we discuss the health issues of ascending to Gosainkunda for a sacred dip in the lake, a word about the origin of this magnificent ritual.

In their quest for amrit (the elixir for spiritual immortality), the demons and the gods collaborated to churn the milky ocean. Mount Mandara was selected as the churning stick while Vasuki, the king of serpents, was the churning rope. Vishnu himself took the form of a tortoise and dived into the ocean to support with his back the base of the mountain. After Vasuki had been wrapped around the mountain, the demons laid hold of one end of the rope and the gods the other. They churned the ocean for a thousand years.

But the first thing to rise from the murky depths of the ocean was Kalakut, a deadly poison. This had to be disposed of before the churning could proceed. Lord Shiva, sitting aloof at a distance, was approached. He shook himself out of his deep meditation and surveyed the scene. Then he swallowed the poison in one gulp, and his throat promptly turned blue (earning him the moniker Nilkantha, or Blue Throat). Shiva needed to cool off the immense heat generated by Kalakut, so he dived into Gosainkunda Lake. In the memory of this selfless act by Lord Shiva, pilgrims take a holy dip in the lake and wash away their sins. But just like for the great Shiva, this pilgrimage is not risk free.

Starting from Dhunche in Rasuwa district, it is best to take four to five nights to reach the lake so you are properly acclimatised. You need to listen to your body and not push ahead relentlessly, disregarding the symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS), chiefly headache and nausea. If you don't have a sulpha allergy, diamox will help prevent and treat AMS.

You should also drink about two litres of clean water (boiled or treated with chlorine/iodine tablets) per day to avoid dehydration. Proper rain gear and a supply of table salt to deal with annoying leech bites will come in handy. The lake area is completely packed during Janai Purnima so being psychologically prepared for some of the hardships will help. But you will be amply rewarded for your efforts.

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1. Madan Upadhyay

The more I read Budha Basent's writtings more I admire him, from a physician ( and a successful one for that matter) a health issue trailblazer, a tourist guide to deep study of scriptures, a true prodigy.

 

Madan Upadhyay



2. Shree
Thank you Buddha ji for this nice article. I did the pilgrimmage back in 1999 during Janai Purnima. We took the bus from Kathmandu to Dhunche (the road was rocky and like a bagar) and it was a scary ride. We spent the night in Dhunche. Next day we trekked up about half way to the lake and spent the night in a chhapro (shack). It was so packed, we literally had to sleep on the floor inside our sleeping bags. I remember waking up at night and going outside; and I still vividly remember the breathtaking view of the mountains in full moonlight. Next day we trekked up again, through the famous lauri-bina-ukalo and reached the holy kunda.

I cann't wait go go back again. I hope there lodging and other facilities along the way have improved.


3. Phurpa Tamang
Mr. Buddha Basnyat has mentioned Gosaikunda's historical background through Hindu perspective. However this Kunda has closely connection with Buddhism and Bompoism -Ben Dharma. No one scholar is reaching the depth of its research. An one side religious aspects is coming so far. If we could equally give both religion's  importance the religious hormoney flowers will bloom. 
Only 2 days walk up to Gosaikund from Dhunche is sufficient. No, not 5 days.


4. Phurpa Tamang

Gosaikunda is important for Buddhist/Bompo -Jhankri-Ben Dharma's followers not only Hindus. Therefore they visit Kunda every year. One can see many local Buddhists and Bonpos dancing all the way up to Gosaikunda. They sing and dance with lots of joys in the Name of God, Goddess Lha chhempo Mahadew, Hyap Chheyal chhempo and Yhum Phama Dolma. However scholars are only describing in their articles  through Hindu perspective. If scholars have gone through its depth research, they will find out the beauties of those three religions connection. That is why religious hormony is strong in Nepal. 

2 days walk from Dhunche to Gosaikunda is sufficient.
Phurpa Tamang (Advocate), Thulobharkhu, Rasuwa



5. Anuj
I partly agree with Mr. Tamang. Mr. Basnyat has written what he has learnt and studied in religious stories. There is no doubt about that. However, I am surprised that  not a single word is spared for Tamang people, their heritage and Buddhist way of life living  in harmony with mystical nature. That is only lacunae in his writing. Otherwise, we can't argue against his advice on AMS. For me, 5 days is better than 2 days. He is clearly saying it is for those not acclimatized to that altitude Mr. Tamang.

6. Gole
Lhasha Jane Kutiko Bato!

 From Thori toGajure Dhunche-post,

FromSurma to Malabar Kon Kon Coast.

The shortest  road to Tibet from Indian rail road  will be Thori Gajure Dunche Rasuwagadi to Kerung.It avoids Kathmandu Valley, so less pollution; but a feeder can link it. Only compromise will have to be a small part of Chitwan Nikunja. It can link with Nijgarh easily and with Birgungj also.  Pilgrimage to  Gosaikunda for Hindu, Buddhist and Bonpo!




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