Fit for God

May 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

A lot has changed in the 11 years since Archana Jain made the long and formidable journey to Kailash-Manasarovar. “There were no roads on the Tibet side. It was a wonder that the guides could tell the route,” says Jain who was 35 then. But China has taken care of that problem. What were once craggy paths are now metalled roads so smooth that a Land Cruiser can easily do a run of 100 km per hour. Even so, the spiritual journey to Kailash-Manasarovar, located in western Tibet approximately 100 km from the Indian border, is no easy task

Walk on

You can extend the five-day yatra (from Nepalganj to Simikot and beyond) and include the 54-km parikrama. But this nine-day trip is only for the physically fit. The trek takes you around the Kailash peak from the base camp at Darchen and through Dolma Pass, which is the highest point at 5,550 metre. This is a two-and-a-half day trek, though some super adventurous businessmen like Anil Ambani and Adi Godrej have together successfully attempted it in a day. However, even the sherpas strongly discourage such a feat. Heed their advice, even though you will come across some regular pilgrims doing the parikrama, anti-clockwise, in 24 hours. From the second day, right after the point called Deraphuk, the climb becomes quite steep. It’s now that your endurance is truly put to test. “You should be able to maintain your breathing,” says Jain. “The cold will dehydrate you, so have lots of fluids. Hot soup with garlic is recommended.” There are other tips too: “Keep your head up, even while you sleep. Use two pillows. Those who face breathing difficulty are advised to sleep propped up,” says Jain. “In the night, the screaming cold winds will drive you nuts in your tent. Be prepared for it.”

Cost: Rs 165,000 (approx)

Fastest, easiest, but…

The five-day yatra is for those who cannot trek the 54-km Kailash parikrama or are pressed for time. The journey starts from Nepalganj (Nepal) which is 165 km from Lucknow. The next stop is Simikot in Humla valley, a mountainous town in the Himalayas in northwest Nepal near the Tibet border. There is no road between Nepalganj and Simikot, so there is no option but to fly. After a day of acclimatisation, weather permitting, you take a 45-minute flight to Hilsa on the Nepal-Tibet border. From there on, say goodbye to the chopper and hit the road. Tibet is a no-fly zone, so the journey ahead is by road. No trekking needed here. You are driven right up to Manasarovar and then to the inner Kora, or parikrama, where you are at the nearest point of Mount Kailash and see its south and southwestern face.

Sounds simple? Well, it isn’t. From Lucknow, which is about 125 metre above sea level, you’re going right up to Darchen (4,560 m) and back within a short span of five days. There is very little time to get acclimatised. “The elevation changes very fast. So, difficulty in breathing is a common complaint on this journey,” says Yash Thakur of Delhi-based Abhiyan Travels and Tours which has been organising the Kailash-Manasarovar itineraries for 14 years. “There is a greater chance of casualty in this,” he says. So, breathing exercises or yoga are strongly advised. Cost: Rs 165,000 (approx)

Go with the ministry

The annual 22-day excursion, organised by the ministry of external affairs (from June 9 to September 9), begins at Delhi, passes through Uttarakhand and then goes into Tibet. It involves trekking in inhospitable conditions and on rugged terrain at altitudes of up to 19,500 feet. This is the longest trek and the most difficult. You are required to walk 6 to 7 hours a day, climbing 500-800 metres. Pranayam, running and cardiovascular exercises are recommended for a period of about six months before the journey. Applications for this year are, however, closed.

Test of endurance

The 15-days yatra, most of it on foot (from Nepalganj to Simikot and beyond), is among the most adventurous and toughest trips. It is recommended only for the physically super-fit who can endure a tough eight-day trek. First comes the five-day trek from Simikot to Hilsa.It leads up steep slopes, along the Karnali river, to the top of Nara Lagna Pass (4,580 m) and then offers breathtaking views of the Tibetan plateau. In comparison to the parikrama that follows, this might seem like cakewalk. Spend a good six months getting fit – like extensive yoga, suryanamaskars, cardiovascular exercises – before undertaking this journey. The return journey is by helicopter or by road. Cost: Rs 125,000

Test of endurance

The 15-days yatra, most of it on foot (from Nepalganj to Simikot and beyond), is among the most adventurous and toughest trips. It is recommended only for the physically super-fit who can endure a tough eight-day trek. First comes the five-day trek from Simikot to Hilsa.It leads up steep slopes, along the Karnali river, to the top of Nara Lagna Pass (4,580 m) and then offers breathtaking views of the Tibetan plateau. In comparison to the parikrama that follows, this might seem like cakewalk. Spend a good six months getting fit – like extensive yoga, suryanamaskars, cardiovascular exercises – before undertaking this journey. The return journey is by helicopter or by road. Cost: Rs 125,000

Venture wisely

Follow a fitness regime for three months before the trip.

Those under 18 or with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy or asthma should avoid this.

China has put the upper age limit at 70. Else, special permission is needed.

During the yatra, have plenty of fluids and keep munching on dry fruit, chocolate and energy bars between meals.

Carry a warm, but light-weight, wind-cheater. Day and night temperatures vary greatly (in June, they can swing from a maximum of 30 degrees Celsius to a minimum of -5 degrees Celsius).

Acute mountain sickness can kill. Watch out for headaches, fatigue, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite and nausea.

Most tour operators will ask you for a fitness certificate.

MEA conducts medical tests in Delhi and then at ITBP (Gunji) at a height of 3,500 m. Those who fail are turned back.

MEA says it is not responsible for loss of life. In case of death on the Chinese side, it is not obliged to bring the body back to India.

Comments are closed.