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Mails regarding Kailash Yatra and other mails to Sumanta Roy Chowdhury.
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Sumanta RoyChowdhury has sent this query for readers. On the way to Madhyamaheshwar, he took this photograph of a peak. Can anyone identify the peak? Please send your replies to: feedback@indiatravelogue.com

Re: Kailash Manasarovar Yatra by Sumanta RoyChowdhury


I liked this article about Kailash Mansarovar Yatra very much. Very interesting...Someday I would like to travel to pilgrimage places with my kids.

Yogesh Patel

My compliments for an extremely well written article. I have been in China for 3 years and we all used to think that we will go to Mansarovar from the Chinese side, but this one helped me be there


The article on the Mansarovar yatra was a real nice one ..being an avid trekker my self .I could virtually imagine what the entire episode would have been like. Although I have trekked a bit in those mountanious regions ..yet the trek to Mansarovar has always been awe inspiring ... thanking you for a wonderful reading experience..

Abhijit S Chitambar


Subject: Kailash Manasarovar Yatra - a trekker's perpective..

Was reading Mr.Sumanta Roy Choudhury's brilliantly illustrated article on Kailsash Manasarovar Yatra and ended up reflecting on my own experience of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra in 1997.

Many of us trekkers participate in this yatra with a lot of expectations about the scenery, travel through Tibet, and with adrenalin pumping at anticipated difficulties and challenges of the terrain - only to be majorly disillusioned. While the immense religious significance of this trip for most participants of this yatra is undeniable, I would personally not recommend this trip for a non believer - trekker and more so, if you are used to trekking independently or in small like-minded groups.

SCENERY - While most people wax eloquently about the mind-blowing scenery on this trip, for a 32 day trip in the Himalayan belt, the scenery is nothing to write home about compared to what one can get on several exquisite Himalayan trails for one third of the money and time.

Yes, Kailash is beautiful - but very objectively speaking, Nanda Devi and Shivling are much more beautiful. I earned the wrath of my fellow yatris with an honest observation that Rakshas Tal actually looks more beautiful than Manasarovar itself. In India, I can easily rate Tarsar / Marsar / Chandratal / Pangong lakes as much more beautiful.

TRAVEL THROUGH TIBET - A journey in Ladakh will give a much better perpective of the land / culture / religion / people / monasteries of Tibet than the Tibet section covered in this yatra.

CHALLENGES OF THE TERRAIN - Let us face it, this trip has probably less hurdles in terms of landslides etc (the 1998 disaster notwithstanding) than a lot of other standard Himalayan treks when undertaken in the monsoon months.

With most arrangements taken care of, especially on the Indian side where it is a real nice luxury trip, there is not much challenge left in this yatra, unless of course, it is your own advancing years and shortness of breath.


As a trekker with mountaineering experience, I have always considered 19,000 ft a respectable altitude. I remember being shell-shocked on my first day at MEA when at 27 years, I was the youngest participant in this yatra (the oldest was 71) and the ratio of participants under forty to those over forty was 1:3.

A young independent trekker has to bear in mind that the yatra, as organised by MEA, caters not to a trekker but to an average 40-plus urban Indian pilgrim whose past experience of the mountains will probably not exceed Vaishno Devi, Amarnath and Badri - Kedar (on mule back?) and whose physical fitness is very average, to put it euphemistically. Any reasonably fit trekker would be able to do the entire trip in under 20days. So the pace can get to be quite a drag, and indeed it is - with all due regards to the need to acclimatise slowly.

If you feel strongly about Kailash Manasarovar for religious reasons, one should not miss this trip. But if you are in it only for the mountains and the trekking angle - it is surely worth giving it a second thought.

To sum it up - on the day we finished our Kailash Parikrama, Kakaji - a co-yatri- asked me if I was not proud that I had reached 19,000ft. My reply was "Kakaji - I was more proud when I did a solo climb to 4,000 feet Kulang (Maharashtra) from the base village Bhavli and back in one wind and rainswept monsoon day"....

R. Bharathi


Trekking: Kailash Mansarovar by Sumanta RoyChowdhury
Impressions: Weekend Trip to Kotishwar by Bharathi R

Sumanta's response:

Dear Bharathi,

Thanks for your email on the article written by me about my pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar. Although you have not really asked for a reply but I can't help replying to your somewhat strong reactions to the Yatra. It seems that you expected this to be another trekking expedition like many that I am sure you have participated in. Well it is not a trekking expedition at all, it is a pilgrimage and in our traditional Indian context it is a 'Yatra'. I am not aware of a similar word in English that conveys the true meaning of Yatra. Incidentally this Yatra is undertaken by trekking. I don't remember seeing or reading anywhere that MEA or for that matter anyone has proclaimed this as a trekking expedition.

How can they when arrangements for Ponies on the Indian side and Yaks on the Chinese side can be made by merely paying for it. Anyone who is willing to spend can do the pilgrimage with minimum walking. The point of this Yatra is not that. I will quote here from a book written by Russell Johnson and Kerry Moran titled "Kailas on Pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain of Tibet" published by Thames and Hudson 30 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QP.

" The reality of Kailas is of a sort not approached by logic, but by faith - and this is not blind belief, but simply a confidence in the validity of experience beyond the realm of facts and the senses. This is the secret of all the rituals of pilgrimage, the prostrations and mantras and circumambulations, the piled stones and tattered prayer flags. Their importance is not in the acts themselves, but in the attitude they create: an openness to a higher state of being, a profound reverence for the natural perfection expressed by Kailas and Manasarovar, and a belief in the potential in every being to touch that perfection.


This for the lack of a better word, is faith, and those who come without, who come only to look, find only the barest realities of mountain and lake. Inevitably they are disappointed, for they are searching without what can only be found within. But those who come in true sincerity, whatever their beliefs, are the real pilgrims, and they find what they seek, not only within the lake and atop the mountains, but present all around, in the air and earth and light, the power of the sun and the restless touch of the wind. It is a power tangible to those who have the capacity to feel it but otherwise invisible and unprovable, a matter of 'superstition'."

It is a pity that you, coming from the land where people have done this yatra for centuries, failed to appreciate the true meaning. The real challange I suppose the essence of it is not to do this trip in 20 days or to feel easy at 19,000 feet, but to come back as an enriched person. The very fact that in your group you had a yatri who is 71 years old should have made you shell-shocked to ask yourself this question that what is there in this yatra that makes old people like this leave the comfort and safety of their home.

Good Wishes

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