As the legends say, ‘any man free from sin can climb up the gigantic Mount Kailash’. I stood in front of the mountain expecting the transformation, eternity and some sort of euphoria but actually, this is true! No matter, how hard you try, you cannot have such a life at least in this era. It is almost impossible to scale the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva Mount Kailash and every mountaineer who has even climbed up the highest Mount Everest is a failure in reaching the top of Kailash Parvat.
I heard much about the acute divinity that lies in this peak but was always confused on whether these statements are a truth or just a bundle of some myths. It is always uttered that you don’t plan the Kailash Tours on your own, instead it is the Kailash that chooses you to have some of its glimpses. I think it was my turn since I along with my three office mates planned a trip to one of the toughest trails i.e. the trek to Mount Kailash and here, I am going to showcase my experience there and some points that you should be keeping in mind in case you are looking forward to your participation in the trek to Kailash parvat.
But before that I think there is a dire trek to Mount Kailash need for you to know more about the divine walk to Mount Kailash. Kailash Parvat is known to be one of the most passionately followed peaks all over Asia because it is said that Lord Shiva resides here along with his wife Parvati and son Ganesh. Also recognised as the ‘Stairway to heaven’, this mountain range lies at an altitude of 6,638 m and is unclimbed till now. Thousands of pilgrims from all across the globe, seek their participation in the Kailash Yatra in order to attain the utmost salvation and also purify their inner senses by the holy water of Lake Manasarovar. Those who are physically as well as mentally fit, have the proper medical documents to prove the same and are aged between 4 years and 65 years are eligible to be a part of the trek to Mount Kailash. While being in the journey to Mount Kailash, the devotees have to indulge in the Kora around Mount Kailash that is done in a clockwise direction in order to pay reverence to this peak and also attain some rewarding results of the utmost salvation. In case you are not healthy enough to perform the Kora (circumambulation), then you have to explore till Yam Dwar and then wait for other teammates (those indulged in the Kora) at your hotel/guesthouse in Darchen.
So, just in case your mind is filed up with some mind boggling questions about the trek to Kailash Parvat, then I have presented some ‘must-know’ information for you to note before proceeding with the divine walk to this majestic peak.
The pilgrims can have an access to the Kailash trek through a variety of routes and they are operational during those three months every year when the Mount Kailash is open for its devotees. These routes are:
Mansarovar Yatra by Flight via Ali Gunsa
Out of these, I opted for the route that is by road from Kathmandu. It also included the splendid sightseeing of Kathmandu and the exploration of its spiritual hubs. Apart from this, one can also choose from the two routes which are facilitated by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Mansarovar Yatra via Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand) and the Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La Pass (Sikkim). But this one has a great number of formalities such as it allows a defined number of pilgrims and says no to those who do not pass the medical test or don’t show the medical reports from their assigned health centres. However, the rates of the trek to Mount Kailash by tour operators is highly economical and thus, you can easily look forward for being a part of the same.
One can participate in the pious Kailash trek during the months of April to June as well as from mid-September to early October. This time is preferable since, you shall not be spotting the muddy roads and also the rainy season at that time. During other months, the trek would be filled up with snow as a result of which, you might be not able to enjoy the sightseeing of the varied regions spotted at the time of Kailash trek and would also not be able to be a part of the Kora. I visited the Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar in September and at that time, we witnessed a very beautiful sight! The time of mid-autumn, leading to the leaves turning bright yellow concluding to the heart stealing view of the golden sea.
While applying for the trek to Mount Kailash, the first thing that struck my mind was none other than the documents required for undertaking this journey. You need to ensure that you are carrying a valid Passport, Voter ID Card (Identity Proof), 04-05 coloured Passport sized photograph, Travel & Medical insurance, Doctor’s Medical Certificate, however, the copy of Kailash Yatra permits and Group visa will be made available by your tour leaders/guides. Other documents such as the Chinese visa as well as the permits for the restricted areas will be made available by your Kailash Yatra Tour operator. You would also be requiring insurance which would be serving as an aid during any medical emergency evacuation, delay or cancellation of the trip etc. Your approval for the Group Visa will be done by a designated Chinese embassy and in case that fails, you will not at all be allowed for being a part of the Kailash Mansarovar Tour. In case you are prepared with each one these mandatory documents, nothing can stop you from heading towards the pious trek to Mount Kailash.
I would recommend each and every participant of the trek to Mount Kailash to carry the Chinese Yuan currency along with them. This is because, you shall not be given any facility of Currency exchange in Tibet. If you are carrying USD along then, Kieyrong has some centres for the currency exchange, but it would be better if you carry the Chinese Yuan so that you are not a part of any hassle here. Talking about the ATMs during the Kailash Tour, don’t expect them to be available everywhere, however you can spot them at Lhasa, Taklakot, Darchen and Saga. But, just beware and use your cards with utmost care since they can get stuck in those machines and you would have to call someone for the assistance then. Credit cards and Debit cards are accepted at the supermarkets, guesthouses and hotels majorly in Lhasa, Taklakot, Darchen and Saga. Don’t expect the cards’ acceptance in the small and local shops. You can shop for clothes, artificial jewellery, shoes or any other accessories in these four above mentioned regions.
Our accommodation scenes started from the beautiful region of Kathmandu where we stayed in a four-star hotel i.e. the Fairfield by Marriot. Apart from this, our stay was facilitated by our tour operator at Hotel Saga in Saga as well as a 5-star property Hotel Himalayan in Darchen. On comparing the facilities with their star ratings, I would say that they were beyond words. Each and every service whether the meals, toilets or staff’s behaviour was just perfect! During the trek, you can expect some dormitory styled guesthouses/lodges in each location where you are going to experience your overnight stays which would be on a sharing basis with around 5-6 people in a single room. You can expect the dormitories to be clean and they usually are. The toilets in the dormitory styled stays are ‘open toilets’ and thus, you might find many difficulties while using them. Also, don’t expect any hygiene in these washrooms! They are just bounded by walls and are not clean too. But, anyhow I had to use them- no other option!
Well, having some amazing food and that too in a good variety is a ‘not so easy’ affair for the pilgrims. Our tour operator facilitated us with a very decent vegetarian food such as Dal (pulses), Chawal (rice), Roti (Chapatti) and Aachar (pickle) or some South Indian dishes such as Rasam and Chawal as well fruits like Banana and apple (based on its availability). We were ensured that each and every meal would be ‘onion-free’. However, my travel mate wanted to have some special food but obviously, we wouldn’t have got that from our tour operators thus, we had our lunch at Darchen and had an experience of the Chinese delicacies there. You can also have such kind of food at Saga and Lhasa. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to expect much food in Keyrong since it is present in a limited quantity there. During our journey, fresh breakfast was provided by our operator whose team was carrying the logistics for cooking along with them whereas, packed lunch had to be carried by us to be consumed during the tour and perfect dinner was served by the team at the time of our stay in the dormitory styled accommodation at every location we stayed in. During trekking, we didn’t find any kind of restaurant on the way and thus, the team gave us Jam bread, banana, juice and some water.
Our Kailash Journey kicked off from Kathmandu where we were provided the facility of Normal A/C Deluxe buses in order to witness the beauty of this city through its sightseeing. Once done, we headed towards the Nepal-China Border (Keyrong) in the comfortable Non-AC Buses and this is because it is way too difficult for AC buses to cover a distance on the rugged mountains. We entered China after completing the immigration formalities where the Tibetan buses facilitated by the government were waiting for taking us to Lake Manasarovar. On reaching there, we were picked up by the electric buses for letting us be a part of Lake Manasarovar’s circumambulation. I recommend you not to expect any kind of luxurious transportation facility during this journey. The electric buses for the Parikrama as well as the Tibetan Government buses are undoubtedly comfortable! In case you want to experience this journey through cars and not the buses, then you can get the services of 4X4 vehicles, such as SUV.
We were informed about the things which had to be necessarily carried no matter what much earlier than our trip actually commenced. Majority of the stuff will be given to you by your Kailash operator, but still, it is very important for you to ensure from your side that you are ready with the best at the time of any unforeseen event or other emergencies. We were asked to carry a thermos/water bottle so that your body is not dehydrated at any point during trekking. You will be spotting many water filters in the hotel and from there you can fill up your bottles with hot water. Also, do not forget to take along a trekking stick! Obviously, you can’t even imagine your trekking for such a long distance without the support of this stick. Since the weather there is surely going to be ‘super-chilly’, I advise you to carry a good number of woollen clothes along with 5-6 pairs of socks and also the woollen thermals. Apart from this, carry some dry fruits, your regular medicines (especially Diamox that is meant for healing anyone dealing from high altitude sickness), Pooja Samagri (things for performing spiritual rituals at Lake Manasarovar or Mount Kailash) hiking boots, sunscreen and of course, enough cash too!
- EMERGENCY EVACUATION
I still remember that scene! It was the time when we just started our trek from Yam Dwar to reach Zuthulphuk and while being on our way, one of our group mates fainted. We arrived at Dirapuk and asked for some medical assistance. What we got to know was that the locales there provided 4X4 vehicles with the purpose of acting as a medical aid for the patient on additional charges! We called the same and our friend was taken back to his guesthouse at Yam Dwar. Just remember that these vehicles are not going to facilitate the whole circumambulation for you and they would be just taking you back to the previous stop for some rest. Also, we were told that the ambulance facilities were not available after Dirapuk once we start our trek on foot to reach Zuthulphuk.
- SOME NOTEWORTHY PRECAUTIONS/SHORT TIPS
I was informed about abundant precautions and other tips which have to be kept in mind while or before Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. But to be true, I never took them seriously and thus was a victim of some severe consequences. I was asked to walk daily for approx. two weeks and that too for 4-5 km daily so that I face fewer issues during the trek but since I didn’t follow that, it became very difficult for me to walk during the trekking and what all I experienced was ‘excessive fatigue’. Thus, it’s my recommendation that you should follow each and everything told to you by the tour operators. Some noteworthy tips for you to know- always drink water in a good quantity and also eat dry fruits so that you don’t feel hungry every hour. Avoid alcohol and also do not smoke during the whole journey. Do not over-eat! In case, the weather is windy then you should stay in your guesthouses! They are many more precautions and these which I have listed are not done! They are literally abundant.
It is really safe to travel with the private Kailash Yatra Operators but since their availability in the market is in a good number, you have choose the finest one. Just opt for the one that has a professional and highly experienced team of tour experts and also that is able to communicate directly with the CIPSC and provides you end to end assistance. I always feel grateful for being a part of the most passionately followed and experienced trek to the holy Mount Kailash. From the very starting, I never believed what all people used to say about the spark and the divinity of this place. However, now I strongly believe that an immensely positive energy lies there! Not everyone is able to trek such a difficult trail but you can prefer it as a passion or the spirituality that lies in Shiva’s devotees that they are able to complete the whole trail with the utmost guts.