Kailash Mansarovar Yatra : The Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage is one of the most demanding and challenging of treks for pilgrims anywhere in the world. It charts a route through the highest mountains in the world, opening up unending stretches of barren land, lush green valleys, snow capped peaks and pristine blue lakes.
Mount Kailash, at 22, 027 ft is the abode of Lord Shiva, and the source of the Brahmaputra, Indus, Sutlej and Karnali. Lake Manasarovar, created by Lord Brahma at the behest of his 12 pre-Vedic rishi sons is believed to wash away the sins of anyone who takes a dip into its divine waters. Similarly, a ‘parikrama’ or circuit around Mt. Kailash promises to free the worshipper from the cycles of birth and death.
The arduous trek to Mount Kailash requires months of mental preparation and physical conditioning before the trip. The pilgrimage can be undertaken only between June and September when the weather conditions are somewhat favourable.
Destinations : Delhi – Bhimtal – Dharchula – Gala – Budhi – Gunji – Kalapani – Navidhang – Taklakot – Lake Mansarovar – Qugu – Kailash Parikrama – Darchen – Deraphuk – Zutulphuk to Darchen – Darchen>
Day 1 : Delhi – Bhimtal
Arrive in Delhi and board train to Kathgodam, 240 km, 8 hrs
Board a bus from Kathgodam to Bhimtal, 40 km,1 hr
Arrive in Bhimtal and check into Rest House for the night.
Day 02 : Bhimtal – Dharchula
Depart early for Dharchula, 313 km, 14 hrs
Brief halt at Chaukori for lunch. From here, view the Nanda Devi peak, standing taller than Mt. Kailash at 22,027 ft. Nanda Devi is believed to be the abode of Shiva’s consort, Parvati.
Arrive in Dharchula and check into Rest House for the night.
Day 03 : Dharchula – Gala
Depart for Mangti, 43 km, 3 hrs by bus.
Arrive in Mangti and astride a pony for rest of the journey to Gala. The journey is through very picturesque country.
Overnight stay in camp at Gala.
Day 04 : Gala – Budhi
After breakfast drive to Karnaprayag is located at the confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar rivers. It is a growth centre with a small industrial area nearby at Shimli. Uma and Karna temples are located at Karnaprayag. Evening free for your own activity. Overnight stay in Karnaprayag.
Day 05 : Budhi – Gunji
After breakfast, climb the Chhialekh hill adjoining Budhi on a pony. The 2 km ascent up by 1510 ft higher takes about 2 hrs to cover. From Chhialekh, walk a flat stretch of lovely meadow country towards Garbyang. Continue the rest of the 8 hr trek to Gunji village. Camp at Gunji for a day to acclimatize.
Day 06 : Gunji
Take a break from the long hours of trekking and pony riding and gather your energies for the second phase of the trek.
Day 07 : Gunji to Kalapani
Fresh after a day’s break, start the next leg of the journey to Kalapani through some enchanting landscape dotted with coniferous trees, following the Kali River. Trek time is 11 hrs through 9 km. Take a dip in the hot springs near Kalapani and pay homage to the gods at the temple marking the source of the River Kali. Towering over the site is the Vyas Gufa, or the cave where Sage Vyas meditated and penned the Mahabharata. Overnight camp at Kalapani.
Day 08 : Kalapani to Navidhang
After breakfast, proceed to Navidhang, The 9 km journey will take 6 hrs, to altitudes where the trees give way to lower order plants. The magnificent Om Parbat reveals itself – the snow falls on the mountain clearly defining the “Om” shape. Overnight camp at Navidhang.
Day 09 : Navidhang – Lipu Lekh Pass – Taklakot
This day, the crossover to Tibet is made through the Lipu Lekh Pass. This is at 17,828 ft, and the 9 km stretch takes 4 hrs to cover. The pony ride starts at 3 am to avoid inclement weather. Across to the Tibetan/Chinese border by 7am, and post immigration formalities, board a bus to Taklakot, 22 km. This is an elevated flatland at 13,123 ft.
Overnight camp at Taklakot.
Day 10 : Taklakot
Taklakot offers communication and shopping facilities, and also a 2nd break in the long journey to Mount Kailash. You may purchase Chinese currency here. Overnight camp at Taklakot.
Day 11 : Taklakot – Lake Mansarovar
Depart at 6 am by bus for the Gurla Pass at 16,125 ft. The Gurla Mandhata peak is to the right, touching 25,354 ft. Here from Gurla Pass, you can get the first sight of the divine peak. Proceed to Rakshas Tal, 70 km, 4 hrs from Taklakot. Here, soak in and experience the most heavenly sight on earth. Mount Kailash, a high pyramid of snow, towers above the surrounding hills.
Continue journey in bus to Manasarovar through absolutely divine landscape. Arrive in Lake Manasarovar. Alight by the shores and walk carefully into the soft soil around the lake at Qihu.
Prepare for the parikrama around Mount Kailash, followed by a parikrama of Lake Manasarovar.
A road encircles the Lake. Hore and Qugu are two camps on the eastern and southern shores of the route, 40 km and 85 km respectively from Qihu.
Camp at Qugu for the night.
Day 12 : Qugu, Manasarovar
Finally, the day of the holy dip in Lake Manasarovar. Rise early before the chilly winds start and proceed to the Lake.
After the dip, proceed towards the monastery near the Lake for a “havan” ceremony. An awesome celestial experience. It is a belief that the gods descend in the wee hours of the day to take a dip in the Lake.
You may brave the cold and the winds to experience the ambience of the lake at night.
Day 13 : Qugu, Manasarovar
Spend a day at the camp at Qugu, admiring the Lake. Visit the hot springs in the vicinity during the day.
Day 14 : Manasarovar Parikrama (Qugu – Darchen)
After some time spent along the Lake, proceed to Darchen, 57 km, 3 hrs by bus.
From Darchen, complete the rest of the parikrama on foot, covering 15 km in 5 hours across the Barkha Plain.
Camp at Darchen for the night.
Day 15 : Kailash Parikrama – Darchen – Deraphuk
The day everybody’s been waiting for is here. The circuit around Mount Kailash starts from Yama Dwar, 5 km from Darchen. Alight a pony to start the parikrama up to Deraphuk at 17,000 ft. Soak in the views of Mount Kailash from here. Camp at Deraphuk for the night.
Day 16 : Kailash Parikrama – Deraphuk to Dolma La to Zutulphuk
Catch a magnificent view of the sun shining on Mount Kailash.
Continue parikrama from Deraphuk to Dolma La, the highest peak on the route, at 18,602 ft. Prepare yourself mentally and physically for the steep climb. The Buddhists revere this peak, and the Hindus worship it as Tara Devi.
The descent from Dolma La continues to be difficult, and meets Gauri Kund, the highest freshwater lake in the world, and where Parvati, Shiva’s consort bathes.
Continue trek towards valley and halt here for a break before proceeding to Zutulphuk at 15, 715 ft.
Arrive in Zutulphuk before sunset.
Camp at Zutulphuk for the night.
Day 17 : Zutulphuk to Darchen
Relatively level ground prevails on the trek back to Darchen, covered in 4 hrs.
Arrive in Darchen and rest here for the night.
Day 18 : Darchen
Spend a day here resting, or go back to view Mt. Kailash, combining a drive with a 3 hour walk. The striations on Mt. Kailash draw a lot of interest from Jain worshippers.
Night stay in Darchen.
Day 19 : Return Journey
Return journey continues through Taklakot, Kalapani, Gunji, Budhi, Dharchula, Bhimtal and Delhi.