Standing in a remote part of the western Tibetan plateau, Mount Kailas is revered by four religions: Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism and the pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion Bon. For Hindus, Kailas is also home to Lord Shiva, and a pilgrimage to his dwelling is one of great hardship which also brings great merit. Timeri has never trekked nor has he ever considered going on a pilgrimage, yet, when the mountain calls him, he decides, damaged knee notwithstanding, to heed it. The trek will involve a 200-kilometre limp over punishing terrain in the lower Himalayas up to the Lipu Lekh Pass at 5334 metres to cross over into Tibet; a parikrama of the mountain itself, which involves a climb up to the 5550 metre high Dolma La Pass in snow and freezing cold and then the walk back into India. The author, a determined sceptic, has just one reason for performing this torturous journey: Bhima, his temporary son, who is about to undergo major surgery. Yet, as he walks the dangerous, pain-filled, spiritual trail through the powerful Himalayan landscape, he is made aware of a higher power which governs and orders our lives, sometimes in small and sometimes in earth-shattering ways. He makes his way to the mountain in the company of somewhat eccentric fellow pilgrims, who keep him firmly anchored to the earth with small pettiness’s and one minor scandal. En route he meets Tibetan monks, a Russian Orthodox priest praying to Kailas, French backpackers, argumentative Swiss travelers, German anthropologists and many others. Engaging, insightful and vivid, Limping to the Centre of the World is the description of a remarkable journey to one of the truly inhospitable regions of the world, whose association with divinity is perhaps reinforced by its isolation. At the same time the book is also an account of how man’s faith is shaped and molded by the landscapes he inhabits and traverses. read less...
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