Mansarovar Yatra is one of the most sacred and challenging pilgrimages in the world. It is a journey to the holy lake of Mansarovar and the majestic mountain of Kailash, which are believed to be the abode of the gods and the center of the universe by millions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Bonpos. Mansarovar Yatra is not only a spiritual quest, but also a cultural and natural exploration of the Himalayan region. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Mansarovar Yatra, from its history and mythology to its location and geography, from its routes and modes of transportation to its permits and regulations, from its cost and duration to its health and safety, from its rituals and activities to its tips and advice. If you are planning to embark on this once-in-a-lifetime journey, or if you are just curious to learn more about it, then read on and discover the wonders of Mansarovar Yatra.

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History and Mythology

Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash have a rich and ancient history and mythology that span across different religions and cultures. According to Hindu mythology, Mansarovar Lake was created by Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, as a reflection of his mind (manas). It is also said that Lord Shiva, the destroyer of the universe, resides on the top of Mount Kailash with his consort Parvati, and that he meditates and performs cosmic dances there. Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are considered to be the sources of four major rivers of Asia: the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Karnali, and the Sutlej. Hindus believe that bathing in the lake and circumambulating the mountain can wash away their sins and grant them salvation.

According to Buddhist mythology, Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are associated with the legendary lake and mountain of Anavatapta and Meru, which are described in the Buddhist cosmology as the center of the world. It is also believed that the Buddha Shakyamuni and his disciples visited the lake and the mountain, and that the Buddha preached the Kalachakra Tantra there. Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are revered as the places where the bodhisattvas and the enlightened beings dwell, and where the future Buddha Maitreya will appear. Buddhists believe that circumambulating the lake and the mountain can help them attain enlightenment and compassion.

According to Jain mythology, Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are connected with the life and liberation of the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva. It is said that Rishabhadeva attained nirvana (liberation) on the summit of Mount Kailash, and that his son Bharata built a golden temple there in his honor. It is also said that Rishabhadeva’s grandson Bahubali performed penance and attained enlightenment at the shore of Mansarovar Lake. Jains believe that visiting the lake and the mountain can help them achieve spiritual progress and liberation.

According to Bon mythology, Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are the sacred places of the founder and the protector of the Bon religion, Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche. It is said that Tonpa Shenrab descended from the heaven to the earth on the top of Mount Kailash, and that he taught the Bon doctrine and performed miracles there. It is also said that he consecrated the lake and the mountain as the soul of Tibet and the axis of the world. Bonpos believe that circumambulating the lake and the mountain can help them purify their karma and protect their land.

Location and Geography

Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are located in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, near the border with India and Nepal. Mansarovar Lake is the highest freshwater lake in the world, with an altitude of about 4,590 meters (15,060 feet) above sea level. It covers an area of about 412 square kilometers (159 square miles), and has a depth of about 90 meters (300 feet). It has a shape of a crescent, with a circumference of about 88 kilometers (55 miles). It has a turquoise color, and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and green meadows. Mount Kailash is the highest peak in the Kailash Range, with an altitude of about 6,638 meters (21,778 feet) above sea level. It has a shape of a pyramid, with four distinct faces that correspond to the four cardinal directions. It has a black color, and is covered by snow and ice. It has a circumference of about 52 kilometers (32 miles), and is considered to be the most sacred and inaccessible mountain in the world.

How to Reach

There are different routes and modes of transportation to reach Mansarovar Yatra, depending on the starting point, the budget, the time, and the preference of the pilgrims and travelers. The most common routes and modes of transportation are:

  • By air and road from Kathmandu, Nepal: This is the most popular and convenient route for Mansarovar Yatra, as it involves a short flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and then a road journey of about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash. The road journey passes through scenic and historic places such as Shigatse, Gyantse, Saga, Paryang, and Darchen. The total duration of this route is about 14 to 16 days, and the cost is about $3,000 to $4,000 per person, depending on the season and the group size.
  • By road from Delhi, India: This is the most traditional and adventurous route for Mansarovar Yatra, as it involves a long road journey of about 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) from Delhi to Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash. The road journey passes through challenging and diverse terrains such as Uttarakhand, Nepal, Tibet, and the Himalayas. The total duration of this route is about 25 to 30 days, and the cost is about $4,000 to $5,000 per person, depending on the season and the group size.
  • By helicopter from Nepalgunj, Nepal: This is the most expensive and luxurious route for Mansarovar Yatra, as it involves a helicopter ride from Nepalgunj, a city in western Nepal, to Hilsa, a town near the border with Tibet, and then a road journey of about 200 kilometers (120 miles) to Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash. The helicopter ride offers a spectacular aerial view of the Himalayas, and the road journey passes through beautiful and remote villages such as Taklakot and Purang. The total duration of this route is about 10 to 12 days, and the cost is about $5,000 to $6,000 per person, depending on the season and the group size.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Mansarovar Yatra is from May to September, when the weather is relatively warm and dry, and the roads are clear and accessible. The average temperature during this period ranges from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) during the day, and from 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F) during the night. The rainfall is minimal, and the visibility is high. The lake and the mountain are at their most beautiful and serene, and the pilgrims and travelers can enjoy the natural and spiritual beauty of the place. However, this is also the peak season for Mansarovar Yatra, and the place can be crowded and expensive. Therefore, it is advisable to book the tour and the accommodation in advance, and to follow the guidelines and the instructions of the tour operators and the authorities.

Permits and Regulations

Mansarovar Yatra requires various permits and regulations to enter and travel in Tibet, as it is a sensitive and restricted area under the control of China. The permits and regulations vary depending on the route and the mode of transportation chosen by the pilgrims and travelers. The main permits and regulations are:

  • Chinese Visa: This is the basic and essential permit for Mansarovar Yatra, as it allows entry into China and Tibet. It can be obtained from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin, or from the Chinese Visa Application Service Center in Kathmandu, Nepal. The visa fee and the processing time depend on the nationality and the type of visa. The visa should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into China, and should have multiple entries if the route involves crossing the border more than once.
  • Tibet Travel Permit: This is the official and mandatory permit for Mansarovar Yatra, as it allows entry into Tibet and travel within Tibet. It can be obtained from the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa, Tibet, through a registered and authorized tour operator. The permit fee and the processing time depend on the season and the group size. The permit should be applied for at least 15 days before the date of entry into Tibet, and should be carried along with the passport and the visa at all times during the journey.
  • Alien’s Travel Permit: This is the additional and specific permit for Mansarovar Yatra, as it allows travel to the restricted and remote areas of Ngari Prefecture, where Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are located. It can be obtained from the Public Security Bureau in Shigatse, Tibet, through the tour operator. The permit fee and the processing time are nominal and quick. The permit should be applied for after entering Tibet, and should be presented at the checkpoints along the way.
  • Military Permit: This is the special and rare permit for Mansarovar Yatra, as it allows travel to the border areas of Tibet, India, and Nepal, where Hilsa and Lipulekh Pass are located. It can be obtained from the Military Office in Lhasa, Tibet, through the tour operator. The permit fee and the processing time are high and long. The permit should be applied for at least one month before the date of entry into Tibet, and should be shown at the border crossings.

Apart from these permits, Mansarovar Yatra also requires some other regulations, such as:

  • Group Tour: Mansarovar Yatra can only be done as a group tour, with a minimum of five people and a maximum of 25 people, from the same country and with the same visa. The group tour should be booked and arranged through a registered and authorized tour operator, who will provide the guide, the driver, the vehicle, the accommodation, the food, and the itinerary. The group tour should follow the rules and the schedule of the tour operator and the authorities, and should not deviate or split from the group.
  • Insurance: Mansarovar Yatra is a high-risk and high-altitude journey, which can pose various health and safety hazards, such as altitude sickness, hypothermia, dehydration, injury, accident, theft, loss, or emergency. Therefore, it is highly recommended and advisable to have a comprehensive and adequate travel insurance, which covers medical, evacuation, repatriation, cancellation, and personal liability. The insurance should be valid for the entire duration and the entire region of the journey, and should be carried along with the passport and the visa at all times.

Health and Safety

Mansarovar Yatra is a physically and mentally demanding journey, which poses various health and safety risks, such as altitude sickness, hypothermia, dehydration, injury, accident, theft, loss, or emergency. Therefore, it is very important and necessary to take care of the health and safety of oneself and others during Mansarovar Yatra. Some of the health and safety measures are:

  • Medical Check-up: Mansarovar Yatra requires a good level of physical fitness and stamina, as well as a sound medical condition. Therefore, it is advisable to have a thorough medical check-up before undertaking Mansarovar Yatra, and to consult a doctor about any existing or potential health issues, such as heart problems, blood pressure problems, respiratory problems, diabetes, or allergies. It is also advisable to carry a medical certificate and a prescription along with the passport and the visa, and to inform the tour operator and the guide about any medical conditions or requirements.
  • Vaccination and Medication: Mansarovar Yatra exposes the pilgrims and travelers to various diseases and infections, such as typhoid, hepatitis, cholera, malaria, or rabies. Therefore, it is advisable to have the necessary vaccinations and medications before undertaking Mansarovar Yatra, and to follow the advice of the doctor and the authorities. It is also advisable to carry a first-aid kit and a personal medicine kit along with the passport and the visa, and to use them as and when needed.
  • Altitude Sickness: Mansarovar Yatra involves traveling at high altitudes, ranging from 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) to 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) above sea level. This can cause altitude sickness, which is a condition that occurs when the body cannot adjust to the low oxygen levels and the low air pressure at high altitudes. The symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, or difficulty sleeping. The prevention and treatment of altitude sickness include ascending slowly and gradually, drinking plenty of water and fluids, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, eating light and high-carbohydrate meals, resting and acclimatizing well, taking medicines such as Diamox or Aspirin, and descending immediately if the symptoms worsen or persist.
  • Hypothermia: Mansarovar Yatra involves traveling in cold and windy conditions, especially at night and during the winter. This can cause hypothermia, which is a condition that occurs when the body temperature drops below 35°C (95°F) due to exposure to cold. The symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, slurred speech, slow breathing, weak pulse, or loss of consciousness. The prevention and treatment of hypothermia include wearing warm and layered clothing, covering the head and the extremities, staying dry and avoiding sweat, drinking hot and sweet drinks, eating high-energy and high-fat foods, using heaters and blankets, and seeking medical attention if the symptoms worsen or persist.
  • Dehydration: Mansarovar Yatra involves traveling in dry and arid conditions, especially during the summer and during the circumambulation. This can cause dehydration, which is a condition that occurs when the body loses more water and fluids than it takes in. The symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, headache, drowsiness, weakness, or cramps. The prevention and treatment of dehydration include drinking plenty of water and fluids, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, eating fruits and vegetables, using oral rehydration salts, and seeking medical attention if the symptoms worsen or persist.

Tips and Advice

Mansarovar Yatra is a rewarding and fulfilling journey, which requires a lot of preparation and care. The tips and advice for Mansarovar Yatra are:

  • Pack Light and Smart: Mansarovar Yatra involves traveling with limited luggage and space, especially during the flight and the helicopter ride, and during the circumambulation and the trekking. Therefore, it is advisable to pack light and smart, and to carry only the essential and useful items, such as the passport and the visa, the permits and the documents, the insurance and the medical certificate, the prescription and the medicine kit, the first-aid kit and the personal hygiene kit, the warm and layered clothing, the comfortable and sturdy shoes, the sunglasses and the sunscreen, the hat and the gloves, the sleeping bag and the mat, the water bottle and the thermos, the snacks and the energy bars, the camera and the batteries, the flashlight and the matches, the books and the journals, the prayer beads and the flags, and the gifts and the souvenirs.
  • Respect the Culture and the Environment: Mansarovar Yatra is a cultural and natural heritage, which deserves respect and preservation. Therefore, it is advisable to respect the culture and the environment of the lake and the mountain, and to follow the customs and the etiquette of the local people and the authorities. Some of the ways to respect the culture and the environment are:
    • Do not litter or pollute: Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are the sources of life and purity, and littering or polluting them is a sin and a crime. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid throwing or leaving any garbage or waste in or around the lake and the mountain, and to use the designated bins and toilets, or to carry the trash and the waste back to the camp or the hotel. It is also advisable to avoid using any plastic or non-biodegradable materials, and to use eco-friendly and reusable materials instead.
    • Do not harm or disturb: Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are the home of many animals and plants, and harming or disturbing them is a violation and a cruelty. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid killing or injuring any animals or plants in or around the lake and the mountain, and to observe and appreciate them from a safe and respectful distance. It is also advisable to avoid making any loud or unnecessary noises, and to maintain a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
    • Do not offend or provoke: Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are the places of worship and devotion, and offending or provoking them is a disrespect and a blasphemy. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid doing any actions or gestures that might offend or provoke the lake and the mountain, or the people and the authorities, such as smoking or drinking, eating or sleeping, urinating or defecating, spitting or cursing, touching or climbing, or taking or stealing, in or around the lake and the mountain. It is also advisable to follow the rules and the regulations, and to seek permission and guidance, before doing any rituals or activities.

Conclusion

Mansarovar Yatra is a dream and a destiny for many pilgrims and travelers, who wish to experience and witness the glory and the grace of Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash. It is a journey that tests and transforms the body and the soul, and that rewards and enriches the mind and the heart. It is a journey that connects and transcends the self and the world, and that reveals and realizes the truth and the bliss. Mansarovar Yatra is a journey that is worth taking and completing, at least once in a lifetime. If you are interested and inspired by Mansarovar Yatra, then do not hesitate and delay, and book your tour and your ticket today. You will not regret it, and you will never forget it.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about Mansarovar Yatra.

  • Q: How many times can I do Mansarovar Yatra?
    • A: There is no limit or restriction on how many times you can do Mansarovar Yatra, as long as you have the permission and the resources to do so. However, some people believe that doing Mansarovar Yatra once is enough, as it fulfills all the wishes and desires of the pilgrims and travelers. Some people believe that doing Mansarovar Yatra three times is ideal, as it represents the three realms of existence: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. Some people believe that doing Mansarovar Yatra 13 times is the ultimate, as it signifies the 13 cycles of birth and death, and the attainment of liberation.
  • Q: What is the best way to do Mansarovar Yatra?
    • A: There is no best or worst way to do Mansarovar Yatra, as it depends on the preference and the convenience of the pilgrims and travelers. However, some people prefer to do Mansarovar Yatra by air and road from Kathmandu, Nepal, as it is the most popular and convenient way, and it offers a balance of comfort and adventure. Some people prefer to do Mansarovar Yatra by road from Delhi, India, as it is the most traditional and adventurous way, and it offers a sense of history and culture. Some people prefer to do Mansarovar Yatra by helicopter from Nepalgunj, Nepal, as it is the most expensive and luxurious way, and it offers a view of beauty and splendor.
  • Q: What are the benefits of doing Mansarovar Yatra?
    • A: There are many benefits of doing Mansarovar Yatra, both tangible and intangible, both worldly and spiritual. Some of the benefits are:
      • It cleanses the body and the soul of all sins and diseases, and grants health and happiness.
      • It fulfills the wishes and the desires of the pilgrims and travelers, and grants wealth and prosperity.
      • It enhances the knowledge and the wisdom of the pilgrims and travelers, and grants intelligence and creativity.
      • It strengthens the faith and the devotion of the pilgrims and travelers, and grants peace and harmony.
      • It elevates the consciousness and the awareness of the pilgrims and travelers, and grants enlightenment and liberation.
  • Q: What are the challenges of doing Mansarovar Yatra?
    • A: There are many challenges of doing Mansarovar Yatra, both physical and mental, both external and internal. Some of the challenges are:
      • It requires a lot of planning and preparation, and a lot of cost and time, to undertake and complete Mansarovar Yatra.
      • It exposes the pilgrims and travelers to various health and safety risks, such as altitude sickness, hypothermia, dehydration, injury, accident, theft, loss, or emergency, during Mansarovar Yatra.
      • It tests the physical fitness and stamina, and the mental courage and determination, of the pilgrims and travelers, to cope with the harsh and hostile conditions, such as the cold and the wind, the snow and the ice, the rocks and the cliffs, the slopes and the passes, of the lake and the mountain.
      • It challenges the beliefs and the values, and the emotions and the thoughts, of the pilgrims and travelers, to overcome the doubts and the fears, the temptations and the distractions, the attachments and the aversions, of the self and the world.
  • Q: What are the tips and advice for doing Mansarovar Yatra?
    • A: There are many tips and advice for doing Mansarovar Yatra, both practical and spiritual, both general and specific. Some of the tips and advice are:
      • Pack light and smart, and carry only the essential and useful items, for Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Respect the culture and the environment, and follow the customs and the etiquette, of the lake and the mountain.
      • Have a thorough medical check-up, and consult a doctor, before undertaking Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Have the necessary vaccinations and medications, and follow the advice of the doctor and the authorities, for Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Have a comprehensive and adequate travel insurance, and carry it along with the passport and the visa, for Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Book and arrange the tour and the accommodation, through a registered and authorized tour operator, for Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Obtain and carry the permits and the documents, through the tour operator, for Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Follow the rules and the regulations, and seek permission and guidance, before doing any rituals or activities, during Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Ascend slowly and gradually, drink plenty of water and fluids, avoid alcohol and tobacco, eat light and high-carbohydrate meals, rest and acclimatize well, take medicines such as Diamox or Aspirin, and descend immediately if the symptoms worsen or persist, to prevent and treat altitude sickness, during Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Wear warm and layered clothing, cover the head and the extremities, stay dry and avoid sweat, drink hot and sweet drinks, eat high-energy and high-fat foods, use heaters and blankets, and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or persist, to prevent and treat hypothermia, during Mansarovar Yatra.
      • Drink plenty of water and fluids, avoid alcohol and caffeine, eat fruits and vegetables, use oral rehydration salts, and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or persist, to prevent and treat dehydration, during Mansarovar Yatra.

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