Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Dream Journey

A journey to Mt Kailash and Lake Mansarovar can be called a "Dream Journey". There is an element of fear, the unknown thrill and a little bit of mystique

As I mentioned in my previous post, I always wanted to go to Kailash-Mansarovar but never came to firming my mind on this till last year. I finally decided that I must complete this journey in 2009. It was as if the "elements" were waiting for this to happen. Everything fell in place in the most inexplicable manner. This was the most surprising aspect of the preparations.

First it is important to understand some basics.

This "yatra" begins from and ends at Kathmandu. The entire tour is arranged from Nepal along with the Tibet Tourist Authority. All Indian agencies irrespective of their claims must have a back-end tie up with Nepalese agencies.

Secondly, visa to enter China is issued as a group visit visa on a separate sheet. Your passport is not stamped for entry or exit at the China border. Mercifully, this group visa for Indian passport holders is issued at Delhi and the local agent is helpful to that extent.

All arrangements of travel, guide and stay in Tibet are handled by the TTA. One has to compulsorily travel in jeeps provided by the TTA and each group compulsorily has a Tibetan guide.

There are many links in this chain and it is possible that one gets to hear some horror stories. I am not sure if things get as bad as is made out to be but it is possible that occasionally there could be a slip-up. Things can get a little messy if some member of your group were to fall sick.

Tibet is remote and even today most part of Western Tibet does not have metalled roads. Everything (believe me - this incl. gas cylinders) has to be carried from Nepal. This is not the normal vacation with a lot of flexibility and comfort that we are used to and expect. It is sparsely populated and we halt at very small one-street towns. One has to be prepared to use toilets which in normal circumstances we would have given a clear miss. At some stops the wild outdoors seems a better alternative.

Last but not the least, we have to very careful of adjusting to the high altitude. The average level is 15,000 ft above sea level and our bodies take time to adjust. The first few days are a test of our faith. Thankfully, if the do's and don'ts are followed carefully, our bodies adjust quickly. It is important not to be disheartened by the obvious dis-comfort of the first few days. It is normal as is our adjustment.

The entire yatra from - back to Kathmandu lasts sixteen days.

Let me publish this post and begin with details of our journey immediately in the next post without any delay.


Gopinath Mavinkurve said...

Gr8 beginning post for the spectacular journey. Just hoped you would list the dos and donts for body to adjust to the hieghts - for someone who hasnt been high up there.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are back safe and sound...Did you take photographs? If you did, please post them...I've heard that it is beautiful up there...

Vinod_Sharma said...

Thanks for this initial peep into the Tibet that you have seen. Looking forward to your next post, or series of posts. I am sure you will not only list essential information but will also motivate some of us to take this once in a life time trip to Shiva's abode.

Krishnan said...

Eagerly looking forward to future installments.

manju said...

Nice first post chronicling your experiences on this trip. I am sure that your account of the rest of the journey will be just as interesting.

And photos please!

J P Joshi said...

Thank you for first hand information of this dream journey. Our samadhis had been there last year and had given us a glimpse of what the living conditions enroute are...Waiting for the next post.

BK Chowla said...

Good to see you again with a very informative post.I am sure you enjoyed your Yatra

Neeraj said...

Great blog and what a detailed write-up of your journey!

Can you please post some information on the costs involved so we can get an idea of how much money one needs to save to make this trip of a lifetime?