Every year, citizens of India aim for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra which is organised by the Government of India under control of the Ministry of External Affairs. It starts at the end of May or early June to September. The pilgrimage or ‘Yatra’ is open to all Indian citizens above 18 years of age who wish to proceed to Kailash and Mansarovar for religious purposes.
The holy Mt. Kailash is situated in the western Tibetan plateau in the northernmost region of the Himalayas. It is also referred to as Mt. Meru and Kang Rinpoche. Some also call it snow jewel. Mt. Kailash is over 22,000 ft. It’s also known to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Hindus firmly believe in performing a ‘parikrama’ which is a 51 km walk around the circumference of Mt. Kailash with a belief that it will wash away their sins.
Mt. Kailash is also the birth place of the four holy rivers namely the Sutlej, the Indus, the Karnali and the mighty Brahmaputra.
Once you travel south-east of Mt. Kailash, you will arrive at a tranquil blue orbicular lake named Mansarovar. In Tibetan, it’s known as the ‘precious lake’ or Tso Rinpoche. The lake has freezing cold water and pilgrims take a dip in the cold waters for the belief that it has supernatural powers which are also considered spiritually beneficial.
So, this auspicious journey roughly lasts for about 26 days. Visa process takes place in Delhi. Therefore, the pilgrims have to spend an additional period of 4 days in the capital to obtain permissions and complete paper work and obtain medical clearances. The Yatra commences in a group of 60 pilgrims each starting first week of June and goes until the end of September.
Applicants for the Yatra should possess Indian passports. The cost of the journey is paid to Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam and Indo Tibetan Border Police. Few hundred dollars are paid on Chinese side for the logistics support.
The Indian Mountaineering Foundation has termed Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar Yatra as the most treacherous expedition with an extreme risk to life in comparison to the other treks like Amarnath and Vaishnodevi Yatra. The journey is extremely arduous for the pilgrims who are not fit as the conditions are hostile which sometimes leads to mountain sickness which can be life threatening.
Applicants should be physically healthy, medically fit and are required to undergo a comprehensive medical examination in New Delhi. A second medical test to ascertain reactions to altitude trekking is done at Gunji, after 6 days of the Yatra, at a height of 3500 meters.
Complete applications in the prescribed format should be sent to Under Secretary (EA) Room No. 255-A, South Block, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi-110011 in mid-March every year as stipulated by the Government of India.
The selection of Yatris is done by India’s Ministry of External Affairs through a computer-generated random gender-balanced selection process.
For further details on the Yatra, please visit the official website of Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam.