World Friendship Yatra to Mansarovar and Kailash
August 7, 2003

Nearly 200 yatris from 13 countries traveled on a sacred, historic yatra (pilgrimage) to Kailash Mansarovar. The Kathak duo Nalini-Kamalini accompanied by their Guru Jitendra Maharaj and drummer Shivamani, had the privilege of performing at Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar from July 1 - July 23. With the blessings, guidance and inspiration of His Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Pujya Muni), the yatra was a great success. So many people undertake the yatra, have darshan and return. This yatra was not undertaken for personal punya or personal moksha, but rather to build bridges of love and friendship between people of 13 countries and the local people in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

In addition to Pujya Swamiji's holy presence, the yatra was graced by the presence of H.H. Sri Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerth, Bhanpura Peeth, H.H. Swami Gurusharananand Maharaj, H.H. Acharya Kishore Vyas, H.H. Acharya Shrikant Vyas, H.H. Roopchandra Muni, and H.H. Rasyani Baba.

This yatra to Kailash and Mansarovar was truly a "Vishwa Metri Yatra" [World Friendship Yatra]. The yatris inaugurated the Parmarth Mansarovar Ashram and Clinic on the banks of Lake Mansarovar. The ashram (tourist rest house) and clinic, the first ever to be built in the holy land of Mansarovar, were built by India Heritage Research Foundation, under the guidance and blessings of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati.

The official inauguration was attended by all the local school children, revered lamas, local authorities, and village people, who performed special local songs and dances for the occasion. The village women, school children sang and danced, and the lamas performed a special sacred chant. Then, the young rishikumars from Parmarth's gurukul sang. Nalini - Kamalini danced along with the local Tibetan village children - the purity of love serving as their bridge across cultures, nationalities, languages and customs. This proved that dance is indeed an international language.

The yatra was a sangam of Kala, Sanskriti and Dharma - Art, Culture and Religion. Nalini and Kamalini and their Guru Jitendra Maharaj, performed sacred dances to Lord Shiva at the base of Mt. Kailash and on the banks of Lake Mansarovar at Lhasa, at Pashupati Nath Temple and at the bank of river Bagmati in Nepal to the drumming of Shivmani. It was as if Indian classical dance was performed by the artists as a devotional offering to Lord Shiva, in this holy land. In spite of less oxygen, and shivering cold, it was amazing how the dancers could dance at such an altitude, attired as they were in original dance costume. Their jingling ankle bells and Shiva -Tandav Nritya was a spiritual treat for the devotees.

As the time for the official "opening" drew near, the local officials and villagers set off a loud display of fireworks, and an orchestra of different musical instruments mingling with the sound of the conch shell, filled the air with joy.