Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kailash Manasarovar Darshan -3

The pilgrimage routes

Pilgrimages are considered quite important in Hindu religion. There are many centers of sacredness, which are held in high esteem by the ardent devotees. So they travel to those places to worship their God in those places. While crossing all the hurdles on the way when one moves ahead with only focus of worshipping their God for salvation, this becomes a form of yoga and the benefit is quite marvelous. So that only many sages and saints and others have undertaken to this arduous Kailash Manasarovar yatra from time immemorial and the same trend continues now also as Kailash yatra is considered the ultimate .

There are two routes available for Indian citizens to undertake this holy trip to Kailash and Manasarovar , revered by millions , its sheer beauty and magnificence, magnificent landscapes sacred mountains, tranquil lakes beckons the pilgrims and travelers alike. First is the yatra sponsored by Government of India through Ministry of External affairs in co-ordination with Chinese Government. The second route is through Nepal, which is organized by private tour operators.

Almost all the major passes of Uttaranchal lead to Kailash . Some of these are Lipulekh, Lampiya Dhura, Nuwe Dhura, Lowe Dhura, Unta dhura, Jayanti and Kunggri Bingri. From 1981 Chinese Government is giving permission through Lipulekh pass. So pilgrims travel from Delhi upto Darchula by bus , from Mangti trekking starts and via Lipulekh pass they enter into Tibet. Except for parikrama of Kailash most of the travel in Chinese side is by bus.

In the Government sponsored pilgrimage all the arrangements are done by Kumoan Mandal Vikas Nigam, (KMVN), tourism promotion corporation of Utharakhand Government on the Indian side. KMVN takes care of food, shelter, transportation, medical facilities, while Indo-Tibetan Border police provide security. On the Chinese side Chinese Government provides shelter, transport and a guide, food is provided only in Taklakot where pilgrims stay before and after Kailash- Manasarovar parikrama, but during parikrama they have to make their own arrangement for food, which is managed by engaging cooks who cross over from India to China during this season, but the ration for this is to be purchased in Delhi and is carried along with the pilgrims. Only fresh vegetables are purchased in China. Pass port and visa is needed for travel through both the routes as Kailash is situated in China now, Chinese Government issues only group visa and no stamping is also done in the passports. The duration of yatra is 30 days, 3 days for stay in Delhi to complete the medical, visa formalities and the yatra proper is for 26 days. The trip consists of bus travel as well as trekking both on the Indian side and Chinese side. Those desirous of using ponies can hire them. Though little tough compared to the other route there are many advantages in undertaking the yatra through this route.

Land slides enroute
யாத்திரை வழியில் நிலசசரிவு

1.Proper medical examination is done and only the fit are allowed to proceed to the yatra. As the yatra involves high altitude trekking where oxygen and pressure is less and the body also get tired easily and the weather is fickle and uncertain, one moment you have scorching sun , the next moment it begins to hail and snow and shortly after a nap and coming out of the camp you will see a clear blue sky and bright sun above and a bed of pearl-like hail and white snow on the ground. As no medical facilities available, only the able bodied will be able to complete the yatra. Also if some medical problem occurs in Chinese territory they have to return by helicopter only which will cost a lot and also involves lot of diplomatic effort. So two medical examinations are done one at Delhi where blood tests, test for diabetics, TMT for heart health, pulmonary function test is done to ascertain the health of chests. Also the health of kidneys, and liver are examined. The aspiring yatri should not have high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, epilepsy , any kind of infection . Those who have any of these medical problems are not allowed to make the trip. The second medical test is done at Gunji at an altitude of 1000meters, after two days of trekking to assess the blood pressure at high altitude, those who fail in medical test are not allowed to cross into China but are taken for a trip to Chota Kailash or Adi-kailash situated in Indian territory and they return back to Delhi.

2. Because of proper spacing of bus travel and trekking when we have to do the parikrama of Mount Kailash at an altitude of 18000 ft the body will be used to cold and will easily adjust to the environment. Thus proper acclimatisation is possible in this yatra. Whereas in the trip through Nepal all the travel is by jeep and only the parikrama is by trek at the highest altitude many people face problems.

3. The Indian Government, Delhi Government, Utharakhand Government, KMVN, ITBF take full care of the pilgrims. One officer of the Govt accompany each group and he is called Liaison officer who is always in touch with External affairs ministry officials to solve any problem which may occur during the yatra. Union Govt arranges for Visa, Delhi Govt provides accommodation and transport in Delhi, KMVN takes care of food, shelter and transport from Delhi up to Indian border and also transport our luggage by ponies. Utharakahand Govt provide security by deploying police men during bus travel along with wireless set and also provide one doctor for any medical emergencies in the Indian side. ITBP soldiers provide security during trek and also offer refreshments for the pilgrims from their rations. Their engineering wing GREF clears any land slides quickly and help to maintain the schedule of yatra.

4. Government employees and public sector employees are entitled for 30 days special casual leave as Kailash Manasarovar yatra is recognized by Indian Mountaineering Foundation as high altitude trekking program. Before leaving for the trip they have to take permission to visit foreign country as Kailash is situated in China. As many aspirants who wish to undertake the yatra has written to the author after reading his Tamil book asking about the G.O No the same is now included here
“The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) has recognized the Kailash Manasarovar yatra as a trekking expedition, for which Government servants are eligible for grant of special casual leave as per notification issued by Ministry of Personnel & Training vide O.M. No. 28016/2/84(A)-Estt.(A) dated April 11, 1985.” A certificate is signed by the Deputy Secretary is issued to the participants who complete yatra successfully. L.O takes care of this formality also and we got the certificate before we left Delhi.

The time taken for the journey is more compared to the Nepal route hence the cost is also little higher. When you travel through Nepal the tour operator plans the trip to Kailash in a way that you are on the banks of Manasarovar on full moon day, but in Govt sponsored yatra as the groups leave every week, only some groups get this opportunity.

This yatra costs approximately Rs 75,000/-, the major portion being the fees paid to Chinese Govt, it is U.S. Dollars 700 in the year 2007. KMVN collects Rs 15,500/- .Rs 2000/- is paid to the hospital for medical examination at Delhi, Rs 200/- is to be paid as visa fees. Around Rs 2000/- for common expenses including food articles, cook charges, and gifts to ITBP, guide etc. Optional expenses include porters and ponies to be hired by the individuals both on the Indian side and Chinese side as desired by them which will be about 10000/- for both porter and pony on both the sides.

Private tour operators in India in collaboration with tour operators in Nepal arrange for the yatra through Nepal. There are two options available for pilgrims taking this yatra through this route one is by helicopter and the other by land cruisers. The cost of helicopter journey is about Rs Two lakhs and the period of yatra is 9 or 12 days. The pilgrims reach Kathmandu by air, from there fly by small aircraft to Simikot via Nepalkanj, by helicopter to Halsa and from there by land cruiser they reach Manasarovar. As proper acclimatization is not possible in this trip it is better to be avoided.

Those who travel by road leave Kathmandu enter into China via friend ship bridge near Kodari, travel along Brahmaputra via Nailam, Lalangla pass , Pekdaso and cross Brahmaputra at Saga, afterwards through Prayang and Majom pass reach Hore on the banks of Manasarovar. Have a holy dip in Manasarovar and they reach the base camp of Kailash namely Darchen, those who undertake the parikrama undertake the parikrama others stay at Darchen and then they all return by the same route. The journey time is 21 days.

Waterfall enroute on the Nepal route

அழகிய நீர் வீழ்ச்சி நேபாள் வழியில்

For travel through Nepal also passport and visa are needed. The visa is obtained in Nepal by tour operators. Here also individual visa is not issued only group visas are issued, the group should consist of minimum five pilgrims. The weather is almost same and land slides are a part of the journey through this route also. The cost is almost the same or little less, the only difference is that except the parikrama no trekking is involved in this route and the duration of the pilgrim is less. For those who want to have only the darshan of Kailash with minimum difficult can undertake this yatra but should have good health to undertake the high altitude journey. The private tour operator also takes care of the food during the parikrama, as told by the author’s friend the food provided by them may not be fully sufficient so you can carry little dry fruits, biscuits for consumption during the parikrama.

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