Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra (KM Yatra)

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force is one of the important agencies of the Government of India involved in the successful conduct of the Annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra since 1982, alongwith the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam and the Government of Uttarakhand.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force provides important security, medical and communication cover to the yatries from village Gunji to the Lipulekh pass and back to Gunji. Besides, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force also provides effective Disaster Management cover to the yatries once they enter the Vyas Valley of Kumaon region.

The process of selection of yatries, their documentation and finer coordination with Chinese authorities is the responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India. This year too the process of the selection of yatries was conducted by the Ministry of External Affairs in April. Thereafter, 16 batches of yatries have been formed with an average of 59 members each.

Mt. Kailash 6,740 m.is situated to the north of the Himalayan barrier,wholly within Tibet.It is the perfect mountain with awesome beauty,with 4 great faces. It is the spiritual center for four great religions:Tibetan Buddhism , Hinduism, the Jain religion and the pre Buddhist animistic religion-Bonpo.To Tibetans it is known as Khang Rimpoche ( Precious Jewel of Snow ) and they see it as the navel of the world . It is said that a stream from the mountain pours into a near by lake and from here rivers flow in the four cardinal directions .The River of the Lion Mouth to the North , the River of the Horse Mouth to the east,the River of the Peacock Mouth to the south and the River of the Elephant Mouth to the West . Strangely enough , four major rivers do indeed originate near Kailash,the Indus, the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra ) , the Karnali and the Sutlej. Tibetans believe that it is the residence of Demchog,a fierce looking tantric deity who lives there with his consort , Dorje Phagmo . For the Tibetans also, it is a particularly special place in that their poet saint Milarepa,spent several years here meditating in a cave.

For the Hindus Mount Kailash is the earthly manifestation of Mt. Meru, their spiritual centre of the universe, described as a fantastic ‘world pillar’ 84,000 miles high, around which all else revolves, its roots in the lowest hell and its summit kissing the heavens. On the top lives their most revered God, Shiva, and his consort Parvati.

Kailash-Manasarovar is at a height of 16,000 to 19,500 feet.The Indian pilgrimage season is the monsoon (June-Sept). However , it rains less at higher reaches.At the heights the weather is fickle and treacherous. During the day the sun is hot and the skin can get damaged . Woolens and wind cheaters are required to beat the cold winds . Clothing should be light , wind - proof , water - repellent and warm .Each pilgrim is advised to carry the following items : wind-proof jacket-1 , sweaters-2 full sleeve,monkey cap- 1 ,woolen and leather gloves - 1 pair each , woollen / cotton long johns - 2 pairs , woolen socks -4 pairs, cotton socks - 4 pairs, jeans / pants - 3, shorts - 2, shirt/Tshirt- 6, good quality sun glasses with chain-1,hunting / marching / trekking shoes - 2 pairs, straw hat for protection against sun-1, water bottle-1,torch light with two sets of extra cells and bulb - 1, large rain coat - 1, belt pouch for camera / money / medicine / documents - 1 , large plastic sheet for water proofing luggage - 1, plate / mug / spoon - 1 set, toilet paper, sun cream lotion for protection from sun - burn - 1 , candles , match - box / lighter , multipurpose knife - 1, rubber slippers - 1, canvas bags with zips ( no suitcases are allowed ) , walking stick , a bed sheet and pillow covers for personal hygiene ( mattress , quilt / sleeping bag ) are provided at all camps , camera .

Items each yatri may carry for personal use: The KMVN supplies breakfast, lunch and dinner, and tea twice a day. (For the Chinese side the list appears later). However, each pilgrim may carry some items. The following have been recommended: Biscuits sweet/salty, dry fruits, lemon drops, chocolates, toffees, soup powder, cheese cubes, chewing gum, instant drinks, Electral/glucose.

Items for use during Parikrama (i.e. yatra on the Chinese side): On the Chinese side, food is provided only during the stay at Taklakot. Therefore, for use on the Chinese side, for the 9 days, food items should be carried along with. They may for convenience be purchased from Delhi itself and taken along. Pilgrims of each group can make a combined purchase. The items should be either pre-cooked/partly, pre-cooked or easy to be cooked. As far as possible food should be taken in liquid form. Cooking takes more time at high altitudes. The items recommended are: atta, rice, dal, soyabean nuggets, noodles, soup packets, pre-cooked suji, upma packets, cans of pre-cooked vegetables and dals,salt, spices, milk powder/condensed milk, sugar , corn flakes/oats/dalia,coffee/Bournvita,pre roasted rawa for making suji or halwa, ghee, pooja items for havan and pooja .

Each camp has medicines and medical equipment .Two medical personnel will accompany each group of pilgrims up to Gunji . From Gunji up to Lipulekh Pass the Indo-Tibetan Border Police will take care of the medical arrangements . It is fatal for those with high blood pressure / diabetes / asthma / heart disease / epilepsy etc. to go to high altitudes . A compulsory medical test is undertaken at the ITBP hospital in New Delhi . Another medical test is done at Gunji . Those found unfit at Gunji are sent back. Money paid already will not be refunded.During the yatra, the accompanying doctor and/the liaison officer can declare a pilgrim unfit and send him back.On the Chinese side,there is no doctor to accompany the pilgrims during the parikrama. Loose motions, sun burns are common at high altitudes. The following items may be carried : lip salve / vaseline petroleum jelly , multi - vitamin capsules, Vicks Vaporub/Vicks inhaler,vitamin C tablets , Strapless / Halls ,laxative /Isabgol,Digene tablets, Iodex /Relaxyl, crepe bandage/sterile dressing/cotton mool, Dettol, Betadine ointment, analgesic and anti-pyretic such as Crocin, Disprin, Flexon etc., Electral, glucose powder, anti - diarrhoeals.Those who want to carry one, can do so. The details of the make and serial number of the camera/video camera should be typed along with the yatri's name and the batch number on a sheet of paper and handed over to the MEA authorities. The cameras can be taken inside China; no special permission is required. Since discharge rate is faster at higher altitudes, extra batteries should be carried. Power supply is available till Dharchula, for limited periods, for recharging batteries. So also at Taklakot. For the Jains, an Indian religious group, Kailash is the site where their first prophet achieved enlightenment. For the older, more ancient religion of Bon, it is the site where its founder Shanrab is said to have descended from heaven. It was formerly the spiritual centre of Zhang Zung, the ancient Bon Empire that once included all of western Tibet. Bon people walk around the mountain in a counter clockwise manner, unlike the other religions.
A detailed medical check-up of the yatries is conducted by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force to ensure the yatries are medically fit to undertake the rigours of the journey through mountainous terrain. Thereafter, the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam takes over the conduct of the yatra in coordination with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force conveys its best wishes to the selected yatries for successful completion of their yatra, and hope that more and more citizens of India get the divine inspiration to visit the abode of the Mahadev!

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