Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra (Darshan) -4


Kailash and Manasarovar

Mount Kailash is the abode of Shiv –Parvati, As we will not be able to visit any body’s house without their invitation, it is believed that one gets to visit Kailash by the grace of the dancing Lord Nataraja and He only selects the pilgrims who can reach up to His feet and have his darshan. So the first thing needed is the inner desire that the three eyed Lord who wields the trident should give His Holy Darshan to you. Many yatris confirmed that they fervently prayed to Lord Shiva and then only they got this chance.

Prepare for Yatra by achieving Physical fitness:

The individual should do regular physical exercises or yoga and meditation or breathing exercises to keep the body fit for the arduous yatra. You can also undertake mustard oil massage for the body to make it flexible for long trek.

In order to perform smooth and trouble free yatra, it is advisable to start preparatory morning / evening walk of about 4 - 5 kms per day at least a month prior to Yatra. Apart from above If you can have daily massage of your body with body oil, preferably mustard (sarsom) oil and bathe in the lukewarm water , this will help your body to become flexible and you will not feel tired during trekking. Moreover the effect of sudden change in temperature & climate on you will be reduced to a large extent . As oxygen gets rare some times , It is better to improve your physical fitness . To increase your body efficiency of oxygen , it is very good to start deep breathing exercises . The Yoga exercise like Pranayam can be learnt.
Wait for advertisement and apply: The yatra normally starts in July and continues up to September one group leaves every week from Delhi. A group consists of maximum 60 pilgrims this year ( when the author undertook the yatra in 2005 it was 40 pilgrims per group) out of this sixty 40 are males and 20 are females.. The application for undertaking the yatra are invited by the external affairs ministry by means of advertisements in leading dailies, normally these advertisements are published in the month of January or February and the last date for sending the filled in applications is normally is 30th March. The details about he yatra can also can be had from the following websites http://kmyatra.org and http://kmvn.org . Total of 16 groups are allowed by the Chinese government per year so the pilgrims are selected by computer generated random gender-balanced selection process. The selected are informed by post and nowadays by email also.

Collect the essential items needed for the yatra:

Next we will see about the essential things needed for the pilgrimage explaining also the importance of those items. The ministry sends a booklet informing about the items to be brought but exactly we don’t understand the significance of each item. The experience of the author is that he carried a lot of things which were never used also lot of essential items were also left out which were procured during the pilgrimage. Many philanthropists also donated lot of useful items required for the journey.

As the pilgrimage involves trekking and during this time the luggage is transported by mules there is a restriction on the weight of the luggage to be carried by a pilgrim. Each pilgrim is allowed 25 Kgs out of which 5 kgs is allotted for common luggage which includes food items purchased in Delhi for cooking during parikramas and common pooja items. So effectively each pilgrim will be able to carry 20 Kg of luggage. As the weight is calculated for the whole group there is slight advantage for some pilgrims who carry more luggage. Also facilities are there to deposit the unwanted luggage at places like Darchula, Nabidong on the Indian side and Taklakot on the Chinese side it will be prudent to deposit some items at these places. As altitude increases the weather pattern also changes. Hence the items needed also changes.

1. Woolen clothes:- As Kailash Manasarovar Yatra involves a high altitude trekking a minimum two sets of complete woolen clothing is a must. It can comprise full sweaters and half sweaters and woolen trousers, hand gloves and woolen socks and monkey caps. As the weather is very fickle it is better to wear clothing in many thin layers rather than using a single thick layer. As at higher altitudes wind velocity is more and chances of avalanche is there a good wind cheater is a must. It is prudent to wear socks in two layers inner one can be cotton to absorb the sweat and the outer one can be woolen. To protect the head from cold a monkey cap is a must. Carry proper woolen clothing, wind cheater, rain coat and proper shoes to make the journey comfortable.

2. Normal clothing:- Do not carry more than two sets of shirts or pants you can have one shorts for trek at lower altitudes . For men woolen Track suits are best suited two sets will be suffice. Sari is not suitable dress for the Yatra .Ladies can avoid wearing saris as it may be very inconvenient. Salwar kameej, pant shirt or Track suit will be very comfortable. As at higher altitudes because of high wind velocity clothes dry quickly. There are also facilities for washing clothes at Delhi, Gunji, Taklakot , Qihu, Quhu and Darchen where normally the yatris stay. It is better to carry detergents for washing.

3. Goggles:-
As ultra violet rays of the sun are reflected by snow, it is a must that you wear black ultra violet protected goggles to protect the eyes. So buy a good goggle with UV protection for use at high altitude above Chiyalekh the Valley of Flowers.

4. Trekking shoes: - Two pairs of trekking shoes is an absolute necessity. Two pairs are required because if one becomes wet we can change to the other immediately. It is not advisable to trek with wet socks and shoes because that will lead to injuries. You start walking in the shoes before the yatra itself and get accustomed with the shoes. Good trekking shoes are available in Action Shoes (hunter shoes) which do not cost much, many of our yatris bought them. Also carry extra shoe laces, one pair of canvas shoes can also be carried while we trek among water falls and when it is raining. Do not carry Hawai slippers as they may lead to slipping and may sometime lead to accidents. Wear shoes only when you move outside in the mountains, but while sleeping do not sleep with shoes on.

5. Peak cap:-
To avoid sun’s rays falling on the face it is advisable to carry a peaked cap or broad brimmed straw hat which protect the whole face from sun’s rays.

6. Water bottle or flask - : which can be hanged from shoulders is a must it is a better idea to have water added with glucose while trekking. We can also use hot water for preparing coffee or tea as we like. As the water available at higher altitudes contain more minerals we can carry chlorine tablets for purifying the water for drinking purposes. We bought chlorine tablets at Delhi for the whole group from the common fund.

7. Torch light: -
As the trekking will be done in the early morning hours and also it may be necessary to move out in the camps during night it is better to carry a big Torch light. It may please be noted that at camps electricity is available only for limited time that also by generator so torch light is a must. As the battery cells discharge faster at high altitude carry spare cells also. Also if you wrap the cells in woolen clothing they will retain their charge for more time. Also carry one or two spare bulbs for torch light . Also it is better to carry some candle and lighter as match sticks will not be useful please only carry lighters.

8. Rain coat : -
As the trekking has to be done during south-west monsoon season it is better to carry a rain coat, this will also be useful when we trek through water falls on the first two days when we trek from Mangti to Budhi via Gala.

9. Belt pouch :-
To carry all your important documents like passport, cash and small and important items like medicines, cameras, eatables, chocolates, toffees, soup powders etc, a good water proof belt pouch is a must. Always wear the pouch on your hip and keep it under your pillow while sleeping and wear it again when you get up. You can carry a water proof neck pouch also.

10. Cold creams & sun screen lotion :-
Keep cold cream or Vaseline with you to protect skin from cold winds especially the exposed parts like face and hands. Also a good sun screen lotion is a must as in high altitude as sun’s rays contain harmful Ultraviolet rays. We used to mix both cold cream and sun lotion and apply to face and hands before we start the trekking every day morning.

11. Walking stick :-
Good and standard walking stick is very much useful during trekking. It is our personal experience that it is one of the most useful item required for the yatra. You can buy walking sticks at Delhi or at Darchula.

12. Packing material: -
The personal effects of the yatris are transported using mules on the Indian while trekking and by yak on the Chinese side during parikrama so hard suit cases are not allowed . The clothing and other items have to be packed in canvas (soft) bags only and also they have to be made water proof so that they will not get wet during rain and snow. So first pack your clothes in thin plastic covers first set wise and put three or four such sets in a big plastic cover and place them in the soft bag. Next this bag has to be covered by a thick plastic or nylon cover so as the whole bag becomes water proof. As the ponies always travel nearer to the mountains there is chance of the outer cover getting damaged so it is better to put two covers so that our items will not spill out. Two fertilizer sacks for each bag is a must first put the soft bag in the first sack and then tie it with rope and put this in the second sack and tie it on all the sides so that it is secure while being transported by mules and carried by porters also. Have enough length of nylon rope and tie you bags well so that it will not open during transportation on mule so that the items will not fall en route. So good plastic covers and nylon rope are a must. Also write your name, and batch no and year on the outer cover for easy identification. We bought these items at Delhi.

13. Other essential items :
- Small knife, scissors, good non slippery chappels, packet diary, toilet papers, candles, needle and thread. It is better to carry a set of plate , tumbler and metal mug for personal use these will be very much useful during parikrama where cooking is done by the group. The above said items are mandatory next we will see about the optional items which have to be carried.

14. Optional items:-
According to the individual’s requirement still cameras and video cameras of high resolution. Carry spare battery cells as cells discharge faster. Also carry enough film rolls required for cameras and tape or CD required for your video camera. If you carry a digital camera ,carry two memory sticks one for the Indian side and other for Chinese side normally we have to deposit our film rolls and memory stick and tapes at Nabidang and collect it back when we return. As no plugs are available on the Chinese side for charging of battery cells it is better to carry incandescent bulb holders with plugs so that they can be used for charging of cells. Your LO or other yatris who have undertaken the yatra earlier will be able to guide you.

Small umbrella or an umbrella with only Head Cover with Elastic around Forehead and supported by strap around the chin), knee guards, ankle guards will be of great help while trekking. Good quality and unbreakable Water cans or bottles to carry back Manasarovar water, M-seal or fevicol to seal these cans. It is advisable to carry smelling camphor also, these will be very much useful at Lipulekh pass and Dolma Pass when you smell this smelling camphor your breathing becomes normal in those rarified atmosphere. It is advised that you cove the smelling camphor in a hand kerchief and wear it on your wrist and when needed you can smell and breath easily. As the water of Manasarovar will be freezing cold if you apply mustard oil on your body and enter the lake you can bath for more time in the lake so you can carry 500 ml of mustard oil. Those who want to do tharpanam ( offerings to ancestors of the family) may carry black sesame seeds also. It is considered auspicious to do tharpanam for ancestors at Manasarovar. No guide tells about these things and are from our experience of the author and if any future yatri is benefited by this the author will be very happy.

Snacks : Next we will see about the personal food items to be carried. As explained earlier when you travel through Nepal normally the tour operator takes care of your food during the whole yatra ie from Katmandu to Katmandu. But when we undertake the yatra through India the Chinese Government does not provide food during parikrama, so the yatris have to only make the arrangement themselves. Normally money is collected and food items needed are bought in Delhi and is carried along with the yatris. Cooks who travel to Chinese side during the yatra period are engaged for cooking they also double as porters and travel along with you during the parikrama. Also the food provided at Taklakot is not to our liking because they provide only Chinese style food. Also during Kailash parikrama lunch is not cooked as there is no time to stay while doing the circumambulation as this means reaching late at the night camp. Also sometimes diesel was not made available at one camp by the Chinese authorities and also cooking takes more time at high altitudes. So one have to have something to eat in these contingencies. So it is mandatory that you carry enough eatables along with you to sustain yourself. It is good to carry juice powders, soup powders, dry fruits, baked grams, chocolates like five star, toffees, sweets, snacks, chips, dates, coffee powder, chewing gums, biscuits, lemon drops, cheese cubes, instant drinks etc within the overall limit of your luggage weight. If you are interested carry some chocolates for distribution to children who you will meet during the yatra.

Pooja Articles: -
As per one’s custom one can carry pooja items like bell, plates, camphor, agar bathies (incense sticks) , small statues of Gods, religious literature, lamps, bhel leaves for archana of the Lord , offerings to the Lord by way of dry fruits, dates, sugar candy and the like. Some brought silver tridents and silver bhel leaves which were purified with Manasarovar water and taken back for worship in their house. As yagna is done on the shores of Manasarovar and at Ashtapat collectively ghee and other havan articles may be carried for the whole group. One can carry a dhoti (loin cloth) to be worn during havan and also when they take bath in Manasarovar.

Essential medicines:-
Along the trek route on the Indian side one doctor of the state government accompany the yatris who will take care of small ailments, also ITBP centers also have some stock of medicines but on the Chinese side there is no medical support available especially during parikrama it is nil, so it is better to carry some personal medicines which can control fever, pain, diarroreah, throat infection etc. Common ointments, cotton, dressing gauges, tincture, electral powder, C vitamin will be very much useful during the yatra which provides some protection against cold. Pulmonary odema is a major high altitude sickness, but as the yatra through India is well spaced there is minimum chance for anybody to fall ill but somebody can carry homeopathy medicine for this. Also carry regular medicines which you take . Though we didn’t consume any medicine which we took but it is wise to carry some for any emergency. Also carry sufficient quantity of special medicines prescribed for you.

You have to pay Rs 15500/- to KMVN out of which Rs 5000/- has to be sent by way of draft in the beginning itself while confirming participation in the yatra. The remaining amount of Rs 10500/- can be paid either by DD or cash at Delhi . You have to pay Rs 2000/- as medical examination fees at the hospital where medical examination will be done and Rs 200/- as visa fees to Chinese embassy. Group visa will be obtained by KMVN. In 2005 when the author undertook the yatra the fees to be paid to Chinese Government was U.S $ 601/- but in 2008 it is U.S $ 701. As this amount has to be paid in foreign currency you can obtain it in your native place or you can convert your rupees into U.S $ in Delhi. Also if you want to engage porters or pony during the Indian leg and Chinese leg you have to carry money for that also. The approximate cost will be Rs 7500/- for both pony and porter on both the legs. For common expenditure we paid Rs. 2000/- and for other expenses you can carry Rs 5000/- extra and if you want to make any purchase carry cash as required.

An Indemnity Bond in Rs 20/- stamp paper has to be submitted to Government indemnifying that we are undertaking the yatra on our own volition, cost risk and consequences and in no way Government of India is responsible for any misfortune because there is always a considerable element of risk to life and property. The same has to be attested by a notary public. You can complete this formality in your native or this can be done at Delhi also. The specimen for the bond will be sent along with the yatra guide . The same has been also included in the Annexure in this book to serve as a reference.

Till now we saw about the most important items needed for the Yatra. The experience of the author is most of the essential items were given free by many philanthropist organizations at Delhi and enroute. The love and devotion shown by them and the people we encounter during the yatra is simply amazing , there is no words by which this can be explained. With thousands of thanks here I mention those organizations. First organization to facilitate and felicitate us was Kailash Manasarovar yatra Samiti, New Delhi. They provided every yatri with a belt pouch which contained many important items which we have not thought about at all but are essential. The pouch contained smelling camphor, needle and thread, lighter, coffee powder, soup powder, dried Indian gooseberry , toffees. They also gave books for recitation during the yatra. As the organization’s members are former yatris who have undertaken the yatra earlier they shared their experience and also advised on finer points. They hosted lunch on the first day also sold essential items like cotton socks, woolen socks, woolen hand gloves, ankle guards, knee caps, goggles, peak cap at cost price. They also gave food articles and medicines for the whole group which consisted two BP machines also. Dinner was hosted by Mahadev Amarnath Yatra Samiti, they also shared their experience and gifted the most useful item namely walking stick, holders useful for charging of cells , a book , an audio cassette and a beautiful statue of Lord Shiva. The Thirth yatra committee of Delhi government arranged for a reception on the second day night and hosted dinner they also donated a trekking bag which consisted of a rain coat, rain proof peak cap, a garland of 108 rosary beads and a box containing pooja items. It was the Silver Jubilee year of resumption of yatra after the Chinese aggression. In the morning we were facilitated by “ Dharma yatra Maha Sangam” they also gave a japamala (garland of beads) and a box containing havan articles which included a silver bhel patra also. Thus many useful items were given to the yatris at Delhi. You can go to Delhi with essential woolen clothing and food items and most of the other items can be procured there or enroute.

When you travel through Nepal as the tour operator takes care of the food needs during parikrama you need not carry too much snacks with you, also as the luggage is transported along with you in jeep packing is not that much important , but better to carry light luggage in flexible bags. Also since you travel in hilly terrain where lot of dust is there nose guards are a must . Most of the tour operators offer you essential items like woolen clothing, wind cheater and walking sticks and flexible package to every yatri, so you talk to your tour operator and decide about the items to be carried along with you.

To Be Continued..........


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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bajaj said...

The annual yatra to Holy Amarnath Cave, located at 14000 ft. above sea level, is arranged by the State Government during the month of JulyAmarnath yatra

Mount Kailash said...

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