The pilgrimage to the holiest of the holy abodes of Lord shiva, the mount kailash, through Nepal in year 2001, had created the desire to go on pilgrimage to the abode by walking through the Indian side. Another reverend devotee from the same city had the plans of taking up this holy yatra. The company of those who cede their heart to be completely occupied by the Begging Lord, Who is capable of providing the whole universe for those who pray, is certainly something to yearn for. Himalaya and river Sarayu enroute kailash mansarovar
The pilgrimage to kailAsh – mAnasarovar through the Indian side is organized by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) along with other agencies like the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN). All those who would like to go on pilgrimage to kailash have to apply subsequent to the call for applications published in leading dailies in the month of February.
The pre-requisites is a valid Indian passport. (Money – about Rs. 55,000 and health of course). If the passport is not ready, still “applied for” also may get considered. But it is mandatory to have one before the start of the yatra. From the applicants on random lottery type of selection the yatris are chosen for the pilgrimage.
The yatra is conducted in 16 batches, each batch having a maximum of 36 yatris. The yatra season starts in early June and the last batch starts the pilgrimage as late as end of August. The chosen applicants for each of the batch are informed in advance. (Sometimes yatris should be ready to start just in a week’s time after getting the notification.) On receipt of the selection notification, the applicant must confirm the yatra by telegram to the ministry and follow it up by sending a Demand Draft for Rs 2,000 favoring KMVN. If an applicant declines to take the offer or fails to pay the amount in time, the applicants on the waiting list would be considered for the yatra.
Though some more devotees applied along with us for the yatra, finally it was only two who undertook the pilgrimage. (While there is a good possibility that one could get selected for the yatra, the devotees should not loose heart if they are not selected. At times it may take time. Even if not got selected, should be prepared to apply for the yatra the next year.) Before starting the yatra it is required that the medical fitness tests suggested in the information booklet sent by the Ministry of External Affairs need to be completed.
These reports are pre-requisites for the medical clearance for the yatri at indraprasta (delhi). One should take enough of warm clothing and other materials as detailed in the booklet sent by the MEA. The yatra will be an enjoyable and memorable one, if there is fair medical fitness and due care is taken as suggested in the information brochure. Of course Grace of the Supreme is the most essential for a great experience during the yatra. So apart from all these physical preparations one should mentally prepare for the greatest yatra. Praying God is the known way to get Its Grace. From the application filling time one could start doing prayer everyday till the completion of the yatra. This is a vrata for the most sacred yatra. It would be required for the yatri to be present in indraprasta three days before the actual yatra commences so that the medical tests and the visa formalities can be completed. The yatra begins to Kailash Mansarovar It was the month of August. We had been selected for the fifteenth batch as yatris.
All the yatris assembled at the specified hotel in indraprasta where the arrangements were made for the yatris to stay. There was one more devotee from the neighboring state who had accompanied from our town for the yatra. There were many pilgrims from the length and breadth of India who had already arrived. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Samiti and the other service organizations had made food arrangements for the yatris during the days of stay in indraprasta. It was a nice monday, auspicious day to worship the Lord(1), Who took the decimating moon to Its head and blessed it to survive. Got blessed to salute the Benevolent Lord at malai mandhir along with the fellow devotee. View of Darchula and Sarayu from top in kailash yatra
The following day morning the pilgrims were taken to the MEA – undersecretary for china office for a briefing session. Here the indemnity bond signed by the yatris is taken and the passport is also collected from the yatris for stamping. In the meeting the Liaison Officer (LO), who would lead the batch for the pilgrimage, was introduced. The LO gets appointed by the government to facilitate the smooth conduct of the yatra. Typically the person would be from the IPS or the other similar services. Subsequent to the briefing, the yatris were let free to do any pending purchasing for the yatra. The same day KMVN collected the remaining nine thousand of the eleven thousand it charges for making the arrangements for the yatra. (While KMVN charges only 11,000 for 15 days in indian side, 600 USD – approximately 30,000 Rs is charged by the chinese travel agency for 12 days and the facilities and service provided by that agency was far inferior to that of KMVN.) It was a trayodashi evening, when we worship our bholenAth as dancing blissfully forgiving the worst mistake of devas. In that pradOsham (2) evening the Lord at malai mandir appeared along with the Graceful Great Lady on the holy bull, with the chantings of glorious shrI rudram (3) and the heart melting thirumuRai (4) garlands. Oh Lord, we could get to Your abode if Your grace is so; we could get to Your abode only if your grace is so !!
The following day yatris go to the bank to collect the Foreign Exchange to be paid to the chinese travel agency. Apart from the 600$ that was to be paid to the agency an additional 150$ was also bought by the yatris in exchange of rupees for the other expenses, including that for yak etc. The afternoons of only first and second days are available to the yatris as the third day is completely spent in the medical tests. So the yatris were busy packing. All the unwanted luggage were to be left at the hotel itself.
On the third day morning all the yatris went for the medical checkup at the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) hospital at indraprasta. This takes almost the whole day. The doctors there verify all the reports brought by the yatri and would also make additional tests. It is better to ensure before the travel that all the reports asked for in the information booklet are available as specified to avoid any running around at the ITBP hospital. Some of the yatris were denied permission to proceed on the yatra as the doctors felt their body would not withstand the conditions of the high altitude hiking. The zeal of those yatris to worship the Lord at Mount Kailash went far beyond their physical capabilities. May be they are not able to see the kailAshapati from where they are, but certainly the God on the mountain is watching all their sincere agony to see His holy Feet.