Monday, February 20, 2017

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra via Lipulekh Pass (PART 4)

PART 4


July 26, 2016 (Day 4) - Delhi to Almora
Today was the beginning of my Kailash Manasarovar yatra. We left Gujrati samaj at 6 am in Volvo bus and after pooja ceremony, we reached Ghaziabad at around 10 am due to heavy traffic on way. In Ghaziabad, there was breakfast and felicitation of all yatris. We left Ghaziabad in an hour and reached Kathgodam by 6 pm. Lunch and spectacular welcome bhajans by local children mesmerised us all. At Kathgodam, we left the Volvo bus and shifted to a smaller (non AC) bus. We reached Almora by 10 pm and stayed in KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) guest house.








Leaving for Yatra from Delhi


Welcome by ITBP and local artists at Mirthi


Group Photo





Bhajans at Kathgodam


Accommodation was for three people in one room. I stayed with Ujjawala and Vaijyanti who were both from Bombay. On the following day (Jul 27), we traveled from Almora to Dharchula. After a nice dinner, we all retired to our rooms as we had a long day ahead of us.


July 27, 2016 (Day 5) - Almora to Dharchula
We got up at 4 am in the morning and after tea, left for Dharchula by 5.30 am. It was a cloudy day with drizzling rain. We had a yummy breakfast of Aloo Parathas and Cucumber raita amidst breeze and clouds at Dhaulchina at 7am. We crossed Berinag by 11 am and reached Didihaat by 1.30 pm for lunch. In addition to tasty lunch, awesome bhaang chutney was served and I couldn’t resist taking another serving.

Almora to Dharchula
Breakfast at Dhaulchina



After Didihaat, our next stop was Mirthi, where we reached around 3 pm to a spectacular welcome by local artists and ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police Force). All of us sang and danced along. A group photograph was taken and snacks were served. We thanked ITBP and left Mirthi by 4 pm and reached Dharchula by 6 pm. We retired to our rooms soonafter. By evening, porters and ponies were allocated. I chose not to take a pony and I did not take a Nigam porter. I took porter referred by someone and he was the best I could get. If you need porter reference, feel free to message me.
As evening set in, it again started to Drizzle and beautiful clouds adorned the skies. Little did i know that rain would be my constant companion in coming days..


TIPS:

  • WiFi is available in Dharchula where we stayed in common lobby area.
  • STD Phone is also available at Rs 5 per minute. No mobile carrier works here other than local SIM and sometimes BSNL.
  • We did not get our luggage and received it directly at Gala. So, be sure to pack essentials in your backpack (toiletries, change of clothes, snacks, flip flops, etc).
  • Dharchula is the last stop where you can buy small essential items (medicines, raincoat, etc) before the yatra begins.

To be continued..

IMPORTANT ADVICE: We should be blessed that we are chosen for this yatra and it is our responsibility to not litter and keep Devbhoomi clean. Carry your plastic wraps that you use with you and dispose them later. Try to clean the trail. Tell your porter not to litter. Gutka and chips packets lie everywhere. Particularly distressing was to see shores of Manasarovar littered with used underwear packets, ghee packets, used sanitary napkins etc. It was distressing and abominable. A place, which is so pious to us must be respected by all of us and deserves a conscious effort by all yatris to lead a cleaning drive as and when possible. Don't forget to do your bit, even if others are not doing it. 

Click here to read previous part of Yatra
Click here to read next part of Yatra

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra via Lipulekh Pass (PART 3)

Part 3


Today was the first day of my Kailash Yatra. For next three days there would be medical tests, briefing by MEA,formation of different Committees and other stuff. There were 48 yatris in my batch, oldest being Gyanaprakasham ji at 69 years and youngest Rishabh at 25 years. Our Liaison Officer was Balaji Majumdar. I also met all my fellow batchmates. Our liaison officer had already formed a whatsapp group beforehand, so it was easy to communicate. There were 6 females in our batch including me. People from diverse backgrounds come for yatra from length and breadth of country. Some people had already done yatra and were ready to help others who needed some information.


July 23, 2016 (Day 1)
One has to report to DHLI located at Panchkuian Road on an empty stomach in morning. The nearest metro station is Jhandewalan on blue line. For those who are staying at Gujarati Samaj would have pick and drop facility. Payment for medical tests has to be submitted and a form has to be filled. At another counter chinese visa fees and passport is to be submitted. After completing formalities, medical tests including X-ray, blood tests, TMT (treadmill testing), PFT (Pulmonary function test), etc. are done. The hospital staff is extremely cordial and helpful. On the same day, we met our liaison officer at hospital. I cleared all my tests, however, 4-5 people could not clear their medical tests and thus were not allowed to be part of the yatra.


Never be stressed out about tests, continue with your medication and have faith in the scheme of things.


My tests were finished by 10.30am but I had to wait for lecture on high altitude sickness. Lunch was served and we departed post lunch.


Aunty who could not continue..

BLS training

Garland on my hair :)



July 24, 2016 (Day 2)
Today, results were announced of our medical tests at ITBP hospital (Delhi) and most of the people were anxious whether they would clear the test and be allowed to proceed with the yatra. We bid adieu to people who could not clear their tests and continue, but they only had good wishes for our yatra. There were many lectures during the day including basic life support system (which I could conveniently skip) and different committees were formed. As expected, I was part of the medical committee and bhajan committee. Sang some bhajans and Om managalam omkar managalam became our yatra anthem. So many enthusiastic people come and distribute supplies needed for yatra. After that we left for home.


MEA briefing

With fellow yatris


July 25, 2016 (Day 3)
Today there was MEA briefing. Indemnity bond and other documents are to be submitted today. DIG (ITBP), who has climbed Everest twice gave some lectures. So, tomorrow would be the beginning of my yatra. For people living in Delhi - they can either stay at Gujrati samaj or come directly to Gujrati samaj by 4-5am. I stayed at the AC dormitory (co-ed) at Gujrati samaj that night and it was adorned with Bhajans and Rs 4,000 were given to each participant. Ram Kidambi who was a fellow yatri said that real yatra is starting this very moment..so enjoy every moment and even what bothers you would stop being bothersome anymore. Rs 35000 subsidy is given by Delhi government to residents of Delhi before beginning of Yatra. Some other states also give subsidy for the yatra, so it’s best to check with authorities. One thing I was sure of that I would not take a pony and do the entire yatra on foot. It was my way of reaching out to my father. Before leaving home for Gujarati samaj, Gautam and I said goodbye and he wished me best of luck for the yatra.


This yatra would have been incomplete without blessings of my master, Yogiraj Swami Amar Jyoti, my dear-most father, mother, my soulmate Gautam, sister and other well wishers.


To be continued..

At Charan Sparsh, North face of Kailash

IMPORTANT ADVICE: We should be blessed that we are chosen for this yatra and it is our responsibility to not litter and keep Devbhoomi clean. Carry your plastic wraps that you use with you and dispose them later. Try to clean the trail. Tell your porter not to litter. Gutka and chips packets lie everywhere. Particularly distressing was to see shores of Manasarovar littered with used underwear packets, ghee packets, used sanitary napkins etc. It was distressing and abominable. A place, which is so pious to us must be respected by all of us and deserves a conscious effort by all yatris to lead a cleaning drive as and when possible. Don't forget to do your bit, even if others are not doing it. 

Click here to read previous part of Yatra
Click here to read next part of Yatra

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 2016 via Lipulekh Pass - PART 2

Continuing my Kailash Manasarovar Yatra..In this section, I will share some general information regarding the Yatra, eligibility, how & what to pack, etc. Never put your medicine bag along with the common luggage. Always keep it with you.

Eligibility criteria:

  1. Must be citizen of India.
  2. Possess an Indian passport valid for minimum 6 months as on 1st September of the current year.
  3. Age should be minimum 18 and maximum 70 years as on 01 January of the current year.
  4. Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or less. Although it is not a strictly enforced parameter, but you need to be in good physical condition.
  5. Physically fit and medically healthy for undertaking the Yatra for religious purpose.
  6. Foreign nationals are not eligible to apply; OCI card holders are, thus, not eligible.

Applicants may carefully note the following conditions before applying for the Yatra.

Selection process:

  1. Draw of lots: Yatris will be selected and assigned to different routes and batches by the Ministry of External Affairs through a fair computer-generated, random, gender-balanced selection process. At the application stage, a group of four persons may give the option to travel together in the same batch. Efforts will be made to accommodate such requests as far as possible, subject to eligibility conditions of each applicant. Application should be completed on-line for each applicant.
  2. Intimation: Selected applicants would be informed through automated messages to their registered email id/mobile number after the computerized draw of lots. Status updates may also be accessed through IVRS helpline 011-24300655
  3. A route and batch once allocated to a Yatri through the computerized process will normally not be changed. Yatris may register on-line for change of batch to be considered on first come basis, subject to availability in a preferred batch or route. This option can be used only once. Selected and confirmed applicants would be given preference.
  4. After the computerized draw of lots, each selected applicant will be required to confirm participation by crediting the non-refundable Confirmation Amount detailed in 'Fees and Expenditure for Yatris' into designated bank account of (KMVN) or, the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) before the cut-off date.
  5. If payment is not received by KMVN / STDC by the cut-off date, such Yatri will be automatically removed from the selected list to wait list for the batch, and request from other Yatris would be considered.
  6. Yatris confirmed in a batch may be required to re-confirm their participation in the batch before their arrival in Delhi for the Yatra. The reconfirmation has to be done online at the website. Failure to do so may result in cancellation of their name from the list for the batch.
  7. Confirmed Yatri must report on the scheduled date & time at Delhi Heart & Lung Institute (DHLI) according to the itinerary for the batch.
  8. Important Documents Selected and confirmed Yatris must ensure to bring following documents with them when they arrive in New Delhi for the Yatra.
    1. Ordinary Indian passport,valid for at least six months as on 01 September of the current year.
    2. Photograph - color, passport size (6 copies).
    3. Indemnity Bond executed on a non-judicial stamp paper of Rs.100, or as applicable locally, and authenticated by a First Class Magistrate, or Notary Public.
    4. Undertaking for evacuation by helicopter in case of emergency.
    5. Consent Form for cremation of mortal remains on Chinese side in case of death there.








  • Packing Tips: In addition to what’s mentioned in the brochure, I would suggest the following:

      1. If you’re going on Yatra during Monsoon season, it’s not a bad idea to carry an umbrella.
      2. Common luggage should be properly packed in polythene sheets because of waterfalls and possible rain that your luggage will be exposed to.
      3. A good quality belt pouch to carry passport (original and photocopy), emergency telephone numbers, medical reports, currency, IDs and important documents. Each should be kept in a separate ziplock.
      4. Carry at least 2 permanent markers to mark your bags for identification. 
      5. If you’re staying at Gujrat Samaj (Delhi), big fertilizer bags will be given for sealing your bags (no need to worry about bringing your own).
      6. A string to secure your sunglasses
      7. An extra nylon rope
      8. Backpack that your porter will be carrying (in case off-loaded) should contain some eatables, water, sunscreen, toiletries, hat, wet-wipes, poncho, essential medicines, flashlight, camera, etc and one extra set of spare clothes because sometimes you won’t get to see your luggage at day-end. 
      9. Extra luggage can be deposited at Dharchula and Navidhang.
      10. Don’t forget M-Seal to secure your bottles (to carry Manasarovar water).
      11. Medicines: In addition to brochure mentioned medicines, consider carrying:
        1. Dexona tablets/injection (useful in cases of cerebral edema)
        2. Diamox
        3. ORS
        4. Broad spectrum antibiotic
        5. Ankle and knee support bandages
        6. Vicks
        7. Crepe bandage
        8. Nifedipine (useful in cases of Pulmonary edema, take only when advised by a Doctor)
          Always carry your medicine bag with you and do not pack it with common luggage. 
    Currency Exchange: I used UrbanClap to find locally based agents who will home deliver required currency at good rates, which are more convenient and provide better rates than brand names like Thomas Cook etc.
    This is how bag looks after packing

    To be continued..

    IMPORTANT ADVICE: We should be blessed that we are chosen for this yatra and it is our responsibility to not litter and keep Devbhoomi clean. Carry your plastic wraps that you use with you and dispose them later. Try to clean the trail. Tell your porter not to litter. Gutka and chips packets lie everywhere. Particularly distressing was to see shores of Manasarovar littered with used underwear packets, ghee packets, used sanitary napkins etc. It was distressing and abominable. A place, which is so pious to us must be respected by all of us and deserves a conscious effort by all yatris to lead a cleaning drive as and when possible. Don't forget to do your bit, even if others are not doing it. 

    Monday, February 6, 2017

    Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 2016 via Llipulekh Pass - The Beginning

    PART 1


    This is a travelogue about my Experience and Information on Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, which I took through Government of India (organized by MEA) via Lipulekh Pass route. KMY is organized by MEA between June to September with max of 60 pilgrims per batch. Pilgrims wishing to undertake this Yatra must hold a valid Indian passport and be between the age of 18-70 and medically fit. Another government approved route is through Nathula pass (starts from Sikkim). Few private operators also offer customized packages through Nepal route.


    The idea of this blog is to acquaint people who wish to undertake the Yatra in future with relevant information, which is not adequately available on the web. And also to share my journey to the realm of Shiva and experiences I had. The purpose of my journal is to share my experiences and more importantly information that is not available online.

    IMPORTANT ELIGIBILITY PRE-REQUISITE:
    Make sure your passport has at least 6 months term left from the day of your travel else you will not be able to apply. Here's how to determine this: take the end date of the last batch (sometime in September, but see the exact date on KMY website and then add 6 months to it. If your passport expires before that, you must renew your passport to be eligible to apply.


    May 5, 2016
    I received a mail and SMS about my confirmation of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra for which one has to register through their website (KMY.gov.in). I was allotted batch #12 and days of my yatra were July 23 - Aug 16. I was a solo traveler on Kailash Manasarovar Yatra and all other co-travelers were unknown to me back then. This yatra was a homage to my father who was a mountain goat and would tell us that mountains are the best place to seek God’s attention.


    Journey to Kailash Manasarovar was to find that inner silence, inner quietude, the mandala. I had to deposit Rs 5000 by May 13th to confirm my attendance for the yatra. Afterwards, I received a confirmation in a few days. The journey for a solo traveler would unfold in days to come..


    Physical preparation for the Yatra
    Since this yatra is long and arduous and covers more than 250 kms, one needs to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit. Especially if you wish to take this journey on foot without hiring a pony. My preparation started with cycling 20-30 kms a day alternating with 8kms walk, yoga and trekking in between. Immensely helpful was my uncle, Mr Rajinder Raina who already has done Kailash Manasarovar Yatra around 18 times. His valuable guidance really helped me in planning my yatra.


    If you are a couch potato with poor physical fitness, it’s imperative that you build your stamina. Even if you plan to take pony, it’s critical to be fit and be ready to trek through regions where ponies can’t go.


    Medical tips
    Since I’m a Doctor, there are a few things, which I would like to bring to your notice. Never underestimate mountains and altitude. In my batch, we had multiple cases of high altitude, cerebral edema and pulmonary edema, who were managed by grace of Shiva. So, let’s look at certain pointers before you undertake the yatra:
    1. Stop smoking by all means.
    2. Start walking each day and consider Yoga and pranayama.
    3. Continue taking your anti hypertensive medicine (if taking currently). Do not stop on day of your medical tests as it will lead to very high blood pressure during the test, which will be aggravated by stress of not getting selected. Take your medicine very early morning with a sip of water.
    4. If you’re diabetic, do not forget to bring your glucometer with you to monitor your blood sugar levels.
    5. It’s advisable to get knee caps and ankle support. You might need them in case you inadvertently twist your ankle during long hikes through the extremely rugged Himalayan regions. One lady in our batch twisted her ankle, but with her grit and determination and ankle support, she completed her Yatra successfully.
    6. For people older than 50 yrs of age, it’s advisable to carry calcium and multivitamin supplements.
    7. It’s personal choice to get tetanus vaccination done prior to yatra If you have not had vaccination done in more than six months.
    8. Always make others in your batch aware of your allergies and any medical condition you have.
    9. Never taken acute mountain sickness lightly. Keep yourself hydrated with proper intake of water and never ignore even slightest symptoms of AMS, which include headache, nausea, etc
    10. Wrap your toe fingers and friction points in your feet with Doctor’s tape. You will thank me for this as it will help you minimize blisters. Additionally use, medicated dusting powder.
    11. Get a good sunscreen of SPF 50 or above, lipbalm and good quality sunglasses.
    12. Consider taking medical insurance through Insubuy, which is the only company globally that offers this service. Normal insurance carriers do not offer insurance for Kailash Manasarovar Yatra.
    13. Don't forget to carry medicines as mentioned in the brochure and always keep medical bag handy.
    14. Keep warm as the weather can deteriorate anytime and hypothermia can set in, as happened with one of my fellow yatris during our trek from Navidhang to Lipulekh pass.
    15. Don’t be taxed about medical tests at Gunji. Stress increases blood pressure. Have faith in scheme of things. Hope you find these tip useful.
    To be continued..

    A waterfall on way from gala to buddhi..



    IMPORTANT ADVICE: We should be blessed that we are chosen for this yatra and it is our responsibility to not litter and keep Devbhoomi clean. Carry your plastic wraps that you use with you and dispose them later. Try to clean the trail. Tell your porter not to litter. Gutka and chips packets lie everywhere. Particularly distressing was to see shores of Manasarovar littered with used underwear packets, ghee packets, used sanitary napkins etc. It was distressing and abominable. A place, which is so pious to us must be respected by all of us and deserves a conscious effort by all yatris to lead a cleaning drive as and when possible. Don't forget to do your bit, even if others are not doing it. 

    Click here to read next part of Yatra