8 Frequently Asked Questions About Kailash Manasarovar Yatra
Q: What is the significance of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar?
A: Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar constitutes a holy area in many religions, most notably Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon. Mt. Kailash is believed to be the center of the universe. It is also known to be the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva. Not far from Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a beautiful lake and world's highest fresh water lake. It is also considered a sacred lake in Tibet and an important symbol in Hindu tales. The area of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar is also the source of four major rivers in Asia: the Sutlej River, the Brahmaputra River, the Indus River, and the Ganges River.
Q: What is Kailash Manasarovar Yatra?
A: Kailash Manasarovar Yatra is a famous pilgrimage tour in Kailash Manasarovar region of Tibet. Every year, thousands of pilgrims from all around the world come to do this tour. The yatra mainly consists of a circumambulating trek around Mt. Kailash. It is believed that pilgrims who finish the trek will rid themselves of their sins. Anyone who completes the trek 108 times is said to be able to obtain permanent salvation. However, the yatra is challenging. It covers a total distance of 54km and normally takes 3 full days. Besides the high altitude, pilgrims will have to deal with a variety of terrains. The scenery along the way is stunning. You will desert, grassland, and many more snow peaks and alpine lakes. A circumambulation around Lake Manasarovar has similar religious meaning. Many pilgrims also take a dip in the holy water as a way to literally wash sins off their bodies.
Q: What is the best time of the year to do Kailash Manasarovar Yatra?
A: Kailash Manasarovar Yatra are generally available from April to September every year. Normally Tibet plateau is dry and precipitation is rare. However, in August Tibet will be affected by the Monsoon from the south of Himalayas, so expect to see heavy rainfall in Tibet during this time. There is also high risk of landslide on the road between Nepal and Tibet if you are traveling overland. Therefore, the best time to visit Tibet and do Kailash Manasarovar Yatra is spring and fall, which include May, June and Septembers. In these months, the temperature is mild and sky very clear.
Q: How to get to Kailash Manasarovar?
A: Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar are located in the far west of Tibet Autonomous Region of China and is considered remote by its distance from any major metropolis. There are several major ways to reach Kailash and Manasarovar. One way is to travel first in the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, and use land transportation to arrive at Darchen, the town at the foot of Mt. Kailash. Another way is to arrive first in Kathmandu, Nepal, then use either land transportation or helicopter to cross border into Tibet and eventually arrive in the holy area. The cost for these routes varies according to the length of the trip and season, and you should compare the pros and cons of these routes before finalizing your travel plan.
Q: What is the local language and currency?
A: The majority of local people are Tibetans. They write and speak Tibetan. Because the Tibet Autonomous Region is currently part of China, many people can also understand Chinese but it depends on their level of mastery. However, very few people can communicate in English except for those working in inbound tourism. As for currency, Tibet uses Renminbi or Yuan, which is the official currency of China.
Q: How should I prepare myself physically for Kailash Manasarovar Yatra?
A: Because of the altitude and physical nature of the trek, many travelers have concerns over their physical capability before their trip. Luckily, with sufficient preparation before and during the trip, the risk of altitude sickness can be minimized and almost all travelers can finish the trek without any problem. Physical fitness is always important to staying healthy. Before you come, you can start exercising or increase your amount of exercise for the purpose of your trip. Good exercises include fast walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, yoga, etc. You can prepare high altitude medicine to bring with you on the trip, such as Diamox(prescribed) or Hongjingtian herbal capsule(otc). Last but not the least, after you arrive in Tibet, it is imperative to rest well and not rush to attractions. After taking some time for your body to adjust to the altitude, most people will find themselves energized and ready to start the sacred journey!
Q: What is the food and accommodation arrangement during Kailash Manasarovar Yatra?
A: During Kailash trek, you will have breakfast and dinner at the campsite you stay at. There are simple restaurants that serve simple Tibetan and Chinese dishes, eggs, hot water, instant noodles, etc. You will pack your lunch in advance. You can purchase some items in stores in Darchen before trek starts, such as milk, chocolate, etc. If you are vegetarian, your request can also be accommodated.
Guesthouses during trek are very basic and are in dorm style. Many people share 1 big tent. Every night, the sitting area is turned into sleeping area. The toilet is also shared. Although sleeping bags are not essential, you may bring light sleeping bags if you want to add more comfort on these nights. Although simple, the guesthouses provide enough quilt and heating from fire, so no one will feel cold inside. In general, no facilities in this area are comparable to the average western standards, but they are probably the best available and your service team would appreciate your understanding.
Q: What documents should I bring with me on the trip to Kailash and Manasarovar?
A: To travel internationally, you first need to have a valid passport. It can be applied in your local government office. For entering Tibet, you then need to apply for a Chinese visa. Depending on whether you enter Tibet from mainland China or from Nepal, you will apply for either a regular visa at your local Chinese embassy/consular or a Chinese Tibet group visa in Kathmandu, Nepal. To visit Tibet, you also need Tibet travel permit. This should be included in your Kailash Manasarovar Yatra tour package, as tour agency is required to apply on your behalf. You cannot or do not need to arrange this by yourself.