The annual Kailash Mansarover Yatra, said to be one of the most difficult pilgrimages, is underway in Uttarakhand these days. The first batch of this Yatra is on the way to the famous Kailash mansarovar lake. Situated on the other side of Himalayas of Uttarakhand, Kailash and Mansarovar are the most pious and most beautiful shrines.
Every year in the monsoon season the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) organizes this Yatra for which the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) is the nodal and executing agency. The MEA advertises this pilgrimage. Selected people go through medical tests and other formalities before they undertake the Yatra in their batches. The management of this Yatra is done by the KMVN in the Indian Territory and the Tibetan Tourism Agency in Tibet respectively.
This year the Yatra began on June 1st and would continue till the month of September. The PARIKRAMA or circumambulation of the Kailas Parvat is about 54 km. Mount Kailas is revered in Sanskrit literature as the abode of the all-blissful Lord Shiva and his divine spouse Parvati, the all-enchanting Nature (Prakriti) which, from a distance of 32 km, is overlooking the Holy Mansarovar and the Rakshas TaI, in the south. The holy Mansarovar or Manasa-sarovara is said to be the holiest, fascinating of all the lakes in the world and the most ancient that civilization knows.
The lake is majestically calm and dignified like a huge bluish green emerald or a pure turquoise set between the two mighty and equally majestic silver mountains, the Kailas on the north and the Gurla Mandhata on the south and between the sister lake Rakshas Tal or Ravan Harda on the west and some hills on the east.
Stretching majestically over an extensive cradle of the Tibetan plateau and hanging at a heavenly height of 4550 mts above the sea-level, the vast expanse of the lake has a circumference of about 88 Kms. and a depth of nearly 90 mtrs. It covers an area of about 320 sq. kms. By far the most magnificent and thrilling of one's experience would be in winter when the whole lake freezes hard, and again in spring when the ice breaks and melts to clear blue waters.
The holy Manas provides fine caves, camping ground and good sites to tourists. At certain places the site is rocky or sandy. On full moon nights, with the full moon overhead, the scene is simply indescribable.
At sunset the whole of the Kailas range on the north becomes a fiery region all of a sudden, throwing an observer into a trance, and by the time he returns to consciousness he sees only the Silvery Peak in front.
The world-famous and holy Mt. Kailash & Manas Lake have been, the source of inspiration for many religions and beliefs. Despite many difficulties and long distances, people are keen to go there at least once in their lives. Continued from centuries, this pilgrimage had been stopped from 1959 to 1980, and it restarted in 1981. In winter all mountains, rivers and lakes are frozen and covered with snow. Hence the time of yatra is from June to September. Indian pilgrims visit from June to September in 16 batches and each batch include thirty to forty devotees.
Raghwesh Pandey, AIR correspondent, Dehradun