Kathmandu – the start of Journey
I am sure you must have read about my recent article on planning and preparation for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. So finally, the most awaited day had come i.e 25th May, 2018 when my biggest journey had to begin from Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is the capital and largest city of Nepal at an altitude of 1400 mt. This is an only international airport in the country, hence you will see a lot of foreign tourists and trek enthusiasts. Nepal is very beautiful and attracts thousands of trekkers for very famous Everest Base camp, Annapurna circuit trek and lot more.
We had to give our passport to travel agent of KailashJourneys in Delhi for group visa. They have to apply for Tibet permit and then group visa before one month of travel date. By 25th May it was supposed to arrive, but didn’t get due to some delay. Travel agency promised that everybody will get passport in Nepal. I enquired how to fly internationally without the passport. Then I got to know only passport and voter Id card is accepted for Nepal. So, I used my voter Id to travel.
I took the early morning flight from Delhi to Kathmandu and a staff member from KailashJourneys came to receive me at the airport. I was looking around the city and had a feeling of girl in Queen movie who came alone. After 30 minutes of drive, we reached Yak and Yeti hotel. I had the full day to relax because briefing of the entire Kailash yatra had to happen in the evening when everybody would arrive. At 6 PM, all of us gathered in a hall where a representative from KailashJourneys had come to welcome. He explained our itinerary well starting from Kathmandu to Kailash parikrama. He advised what things to carry, where to buy, when to hire pony or porter. And, most importantly he explained clearly that facilities will go worse as we move ahead in the journey in terms of food, accommodation, sanitation etc. Not only this but also we will face difficulty as we go higher in altitude. Acute mountain sickness is a major problem when being hit. So, to take proper care was the only key.
Day 01: Kathmandu Arrival (1400m) – Overnight in Kathmandu
Evening – A short briefing about Kailash Manasarovar Yatra
Day 02: Kathmandu Sightseeing & Fly to Nepalgunj (150m) – Overnight in Nepalgunj
After Breakfast – Half day sightseeing of Pashupatinath and Guhyeshwari
Afternoon – Flight Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (1hr) & Transfer to Hotel in Nepalgunj
Day 03: Fly Nepalgunj – Simikot (2900m) & Heli to Hilsa (3700m) & Drive to Taklakot (3900m) – Overnight in Taklakot
Early Morning – Flight Nepalgunj to Simikot (1hr). Rest for few hours at Simikot.
Morning – Take Helicopter to Hilsa (20min – 12kg weight limit) & wait for other members to arrive at Hilsa (since it is a group visa and everyone have to enter Tibet side in one group)
Afternoon – From Hilsa drive to Purang border to Taklakot and stay at Hotel. We will stay overnight at Taklakot.. (On the way we have to pass up to 3 Checkpoints where checking might take upto 1 hr in each post)
Day 04: At Taklakot (3900m) – Rest Day – Overnight in Taklakot
All Day – Entire day free for Acclimatization
Day 05: Drive to Manasarovar Lake (4550m) – Overnight in Manasarovar
After Breakfast – Drive towards Manasarovar Lake (95 km). On the way, you will have to pass the first checkpoint. Then after driving for 70 km from Taklakot, we will reach Rakshas Tal. On the right of Rakshas Tal, you will see Gurla Mandhata Parvat & first view of Mount Kailash and Manasarovar lake. Drive from Rakshas Tal to Manasarovar Lake (25 km). Start Parikrama of Manasarovar Lake (90 km – 3hr by bus). Take a holy dip & perform Puja.
Day 06: 1st Day of Parikrama – Drive to Darchen (4650m) & Yama Dwar & Trek to Dirapuk (4880m) – Overnight in Dirapuk
After Breakfast – Drive to Darchen (35 km – 1 hr) and Yama Dwar (8 km) – the starting point for Kora. We will trek to Dirapuk for 14 km. You will visit the North face of Mt. Kailash and touching the feet of Mt. Kailash (Charan Sparsha). Travelers who do not want to trek around (Parikrama) Mt. Kailash can go back to Darchen wait for the rest of the group to arrive from Parikrama.
Hotel: Mudhouse on the way during Parikrama or Stay in Dormitory Guest House at Darchen
NOTE: If you are not doing Parikrama, then you will still be waiting at Darchen (4650m)
Day 07: 2nd Day of Parikrama – On to Zuthulpuk (4670m) via Trek to Dolma La Pass (5700m) – Overnight in Zuthulpuk
After Breakfast – Trek from Dirapuk to Dolma La Pass (8 km). About 3 kms before reaching Dolma La Pass is a steep hill and quite difficult to walk. Also descending from Dolma La Pass is the same for upto 3 km. While descending you can see Gaurikund on the right. After walking for about 2 – 3 hrs we will reach Phedi. After some rest, we will start trek to Zuthulpuk (12 km trek for 6 hours).
NOTE: If you are not doing Parikrama, then you will still be waiting at Darchen
Day 08: 3rd Day of Parikrama – Trek to Darchen – Drive to Hilsa via Taklakot – Overnight in Hilsa / Simikot
After Breakfast – After short easy Trek (8 km – 3 hrs), we will reach our bus pick up point. Then drive to Darchen (3 kms) and merge with other members who were waiting. From there drive to Hilsa (also we will take helicopter to Simikot based on situation)
Day 09: Fly Hilsa – Simikot – Nepalgunj & Fly back to Kathmandu – Overnight in Kathmandu
Fly to Hilsa to Simikot (20 mins) by Helicopter – Fly from Simikot to Nepalgunj (around 1 hr)/ Surkhet and fly back to Kathmandu (or proceed to Lucknow by Road)
Day 10: Transfer to Kathmandu Airport
Certificate of completion will be provided to you from Kailash Journeys. You will be free till your flight time. We will drop you at Airport 1-2 hour before flight time (30 mins drive).
Everyone was given duffle bag, jacket, cap and passport holder. It was mandatory to use their duffle bag because our bag may get lost while transfer from one place to another place. In Nepal, our Indian currency works, so I was not worried. I had to only exchange INR to Chinese Yuan currency. They exchanged Rs 24,000 to 2000 Chinese Yuan at the conversion rate of 12. It was sufficient for me as I didn’t plan to hire either a pony or porter. If you hire pony then you need to pay 2000 Yuan and 800 Yuan for the porter which is fixed.
The dinner was ready and by this time, I started interacting with other group members. Not only the group was mix and match of every state of India, but also there were a lot of NRIs came for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. I was hesitating initially but was amazed when I interacted more and got to know that about 75% of members came on solo trip. Now I gained confidence and was happy that there are also other crazy people like me :). I met people who shared the same table for dinner and got comfortable with Rupa (came solo from Bangalore), Mauli (came solo from London) and a few others. Moreover, everyone was very enthusiastic about their journey of the lifetime. We shared experiences of our previous treks and advised some tips. Overall the positive vibes started flowing all around.
On 26th May morning after breakfast, we left by bus for Pashupatinath temple visit to take blessings for entire Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
Pashupati temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to be part of Kedarnath temple. It has four-faced self-manifested Shiv linga around which parikrama happens. The temple lies on the banks of Bagmati river and the big statue of golden Nandi bull guarding outside the temple has the main attraction. Pashupati temple is in the main city of Kathmandu. It is the largest complex in Nepal and there are other Hindu and Buddhist deities as well.
Camera and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple. Unknowingly, I clicked some pictures and was caught by the security. He deleted the pictures and powered off the phone. It was Saturday and the place was overcrowded. We had to rush to visit next destination Guhyeshwari temple and then had to board flight for Nepalgunj.
Guhyeshwari temple is one of the 52 Shaktipeeth and is about 1 km to the east of Pashupatinath temple lies on the banks of Bagmati river. Temple is dedicated to Adi Shakti or Sati (consort of Shiva). Sati’s hind part is said to have fallen at this place. The sanctorum is accessible through a small passage.
Bags packed and ready to fly Nepalgunj
It was 12:30 PM we reached our hotel back and all were happy after having darshan of Pashupatinath and Shaktipeeth. Now, we had to rush to pack our bags and take only necessary stuff for rest of the journey. We transferred essentials into the duffle bag given by KailashJourneys and left our bags in Kathmandu hotel itself. We had to be bit careful while packing because the bag should weigh maximum 10 kg as we had to board helicopter going forward. After lunch, we departed from Kathmandu. And, by this time I made 2 friends Rupa and Mauli with whom I could chit-chat and crack funny jokes.
This is how we started our journey of Kailash Mansarovar from Kathmandu with excitement and full of positive energy. Stay tuned for next post on Nepalgunj. And don’t forget to like and share it. Let other Shiva Lover get to know and learn from my experience and plan their journey well.
OM NAMAH SHIVAAY!