Day Three: Zutrul Puk to Darchen
Zutrul Puk (Miracle Cave) is where part of the magic contest between Milarepa and Naro Bonchung took place. Having displayed his superior magical powers of Lake Manasarovar and other points around Kailash, Milarepa suggested to his opponent that they build a shelter against the rain that had started to fall. Milarepa split a stone to use for the roof, but it was too heavy for Naro Bonchung to lift. So Milarepa maneuvered it into place himself, leaving impressions of his hands and head in the rock as he did so. These imprints are still visible in the roof of Zutruo Puk today.
The small monastery of Zutrul Puk is currently looked after by a monk of the Drukpa Kagyu order. The building was renovated after the Cultural Revolution, and the monastery itself now surrounds the cave. Photography is strictly forbidden inside the cave. The main image in the cave is a bronze statue of Milarepa, said to be crafted by the master himself. You can enter the cave and even sit there for a while, although you will need a flashlight if you want to take a closer look at things.
Below Zutrul Puk, at the bottom of the valley is some fine examples of mani walls. If you have time you can visit the beautiful waterfall in a small side valley to the south of the monastery. It is a leisurely 4 to 6 hour walk from Zatrul Puk back to the starting point of Darchen. Continue to the end of the eastern valley, then turn westward across the edge of the plain, passing man huge mani walls, until you arrive at Darchen. Either before or after completing the circumambulation, it is possible to make a short but outstanding excursion from Darchen into the center of the Kailash massif. By proceeding uphill die north over the foothills from Darchen for about two hours, you will reach the small monastery of Gyangtra. The largest of the monasteries around Mount Kailash, it is located high on the wall of a natural amphitheater. Descending west to the bottom of the amphitheater, you follow a path that takes you to the ruins of Seralung Monastery. Although all pilgrims are allowed to precede this far into the massif, to go any closer to the mountain you must first have qualified by completing 12 circumambulations by the route described above. If you are thus qualified to continue north from here, you will finally reach the moraines that lead to the base of the south face of Kailash. To cross this terrain can be dangerous for those who are inexperienced or ill equipped. Those with less time are strongly encouraged at least to climb up onto the western ridge behind Darchen. It takes only a couple of hours to walk to the tops of these hills from where there is an utterly spectacular views of the great south face of Kailash and the plains below Darchen, with the lakes of Manasorovar and Rakshas Tal lying at the base of Mount Gurla Mandhata.