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Kailash Mansarovar Yatra from UK via Nepal

Holidays in Nepal

Holidays to Nepal

Travel Guide

Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar are two of the most significant and revered sites in the Himalayan region, holding religious and spiritual importance for people of various faiths including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and the Bon religion.

Hinduism: For Hindus, Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. It is believed that taking a pilgrimage to Kailash and completing the Parikrama (circumambulation) around the mountain can cleanse the soul of all sins and lead to salvation or Moksha.

Buddhism: Buddhists consider Mount Kailash as the center of the universe and the home of Demchok, a manifestation of the Buddha. Circumambulating the mountain is believed to be a path to enlightenment.

Jainism: Jains believe Mount Kailash to be the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhdeva, attained Nirvana or liberation.

Bon Religion: Followers of the Bon religion, a pre-Buddhist belief system in Tibet, consider Kailash as the sacred nine-story Swastika Mountain and believe circumambulating the mountain counter-clockwise will bring good fortune.

Lake Mansarovar, situated near Mount Kailash, is also considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists. Hindus believe that bathing in the lake or drinking its water can cleanse one's sins. Buddhists associate the lake with the legendary Lake Anavatapta, where the Buddha was said to have stayed and meditated.

Together, Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar represent spiritual purity and enlightenment, making the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra one of the most sacred pilgrimages in the world.

A detailed guideline for people in the UK planning the Yatra

The goal of this blog is to give people in the United Kingdom who want to go on the holy Kailash Mansarovar Yatra a complete and full plan. This trip is both a spiritual journey and a physically challenging adventure that needs to be carefully planned and prepared for.

This guide aims to give you all the information you need, like what visas and permits you need, how to get in shape, what to pack, how to plan your trip from the UK to Kailash Mansarovar, how to do the Yatra, important things to remember on the way, and who to call in case of an emergency.

This blog aims to make it easier to plan a trip by giving a step-by-step guide, answering common questions, and giving tips and suggestions to make sure the trip goes well and is fun. Whether you want to do the Yatra for spiritual, cultural, or adventurous reasons, this guide will give you all the information you need to get ready for this once-in-a-lifetime trip from the United Kingdom and start it.

Visa and Permits

For the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nepal, you will need both a Nepali visa and a special permit for the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Here are the steps for obtaining both:

Nepal Visa:

  • Most nationalities, including UK citizens, can obtain a tourist visa on arrival in Nepal at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

  • You will need a passport with at least six months' validity from your planned date of entry, a passport-sized photo, and cash for the visa fee.

  • The visa fee depends on the duration of your stay. As of my last update, it is $30 for 15 days, $50 for 30 days, and $125 for 90 days. You can pay this in any major currency, but it's recommended to carry USD.

Tibet Travel Permit:

  • To enter the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), you will need a Tibet Travel Permit (TTP), which must be arranged through a registered travel agency.

  • After arriving in Nepal, you will need to apply for a Group Tourist Visa (GTV) to enter Tibet from Kathmandu, which can only be obtained through a registered travel agency.

  • We will also assist you in obtaining the TTP. You will need to provide us a scanned copy of your passport, a scanned passport-size photo, and complete an application form. The processing time is usually about 20 days, so it's important to plan ahead.

Note: Independent travel is not permitted in the Tibet Autonomous Region. You must be part of an organized tour with a registered tour operator. We will handle all the necessary permit applications on your behalf. It is also recommended to confirm all visa and permit requirements and fees as they may change.

Physical Fitness

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is one of the most physically demanding pilgrimages in the world. It involves high-altitude trekking, often in remote and harsh terrains. Therefore, being physically fit is of utmost importance to successfully complete the Yatra and to avoid altitude sickness and other health-related issues.

Importance of Physical Fitness:

High Altitude: The trek involves travelling at high altitudes (over 15,000 feet), which means the oxygen level is significantly lower. Being physically fit will help your body acclimate to the altitude and reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

Harsh Terrain: The trek involves walking on rugged terrains, steep climbs, and rocky paths. Physical fitness is essential to navigate these terrains without injuring yourself.

Long Trekking Days: Some days of the trek involve walking for 6-8 hours. Physical endurance is key to completing these long trekking days.

Cold Weather: The region can get very cold, especially at night. Physical fitness helps in maintaining body heat and staying warm.

Suggested Training Regime:

Cardiovascular Training: Start with cardiovascular exercises like jogging, cycling, swimming, or aerobics at least 3-4 times a week. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of these exercises.

Strength Training: Include strength training exercises to build muscle strength. Focus on leg muscles, back, and shoulders as they will be used the most during the trek.

Flexibility Exercises: Incorporate yoga and stretching exercises to improve flexibility and breathing.

Altitude Training: If possible, spend some time at high-altitude areas before the trek to acclimate your body to lower oxygen levels.

Practice Treks: Go for practice treks on hilly terrains with a loaded backpack to simulate the actual trekking experience.

Hydration and Balanced Diet: Stay well-hydrated and follow a balanced diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins.

Mental Preparation: Mental preparation is as important as physical preparation. Practice meditation and visualization exercises to build mental strength and resilience.

Remember, the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is not a race. It is important to listen to your body and not overexert yourself. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regime and to undergo a thorough medical check-up before embarking on the Yatra.

Packing List

Packing for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra requires careful consideration as you will be trekking in remote and harsh terrains at high altitudes. Here is a list of essential items that one should pack for the Yatra:

Clothing:

  • Thermal innerwear (top and bottom)

  • Fleece jacket or woollen sweater

  • Waterproof and windproof jacket

  • Trekking pants (waterproof)

  • T-shirts (quick-drying material)

  • Woollen socks and gloves

  • Woollen cap or beanie

  • Sun hat or cap

Footwear:

  • Sturdy and waterproof trekking shoes

  • Sandals or flip-flops (for use in camps)

Personal Items:

  • Sunglasses with UV protection

  • Sunscreen (SPF 50+)

  • Lip balm with SPF

  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.)

  • Quick-dry towel

  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizer

Health and Safety:

  • Personal medical kit (pain relievers, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, etc.)

  • Prescription medications (if any)

  • Water purification tablets or a portable water filter

  • High-calorie energy bars and snacks

  • Altitude sickness medication (consult your doctor)

  • Insect repellent

Equipment and Accessories:

  • Duffel bag or large backpack (waterproof)

  • Daypack (for carrying essentials during the day)

  • Trekking poles

  • Sleeping bag (rated for sub-zero temperatures)

  • Headlamp or torch with extra batteries

  • Water bottles or hydration bladder

Documents:

  • Passport (with at least six months validity)

  • Visa and permits (Chinese visa, Tibet Travel Permit, etc.)

  • Travel insurance (that covers high-altitude trekking)

  • Multiple photocopies of all documents

  • Passport-sized photos

Electronics:

  • Smartphone and charger

  • Power bank

  • Camera and extra batteries (optional)

Miscellaneous:

  • Cash (USD and local currency)

  • Notebook and pen

  • Lighter or matches

  • Plastic bags (for trash and waterproofing)

Remember to pack light and only carry the essentials. Also, it is advisable to check the luggage restrictions of your airline and tour operator. It is recommended to pack your items in a waterproof duffel bag or backpack as the weather in the region can be unpredictable. Also, make sure to inform your trekking guide or tour operator if you have any specific needs or requirements.

Travel to Nepal

There are several flight options from the United Kingdom to Nepal, mainly to its capital city, Kathmandu. Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) is the only international airport in Nepal and serves as the gateway for international travelers.

Direct Flights:

As of our last update, there are no airlines offering direct flights from the UK to Nepal. However, this can change, so it's worth checking with airlines and online booking platforms.

One-Stop Flights:

Several airlines offer one-stop flights from various airports in the UK to Kathmandu. These flights usually have a layover in the airline's home country or a major hub. Some popular airlines offering one-stop flights to Kathmandu include:

  • Qatar Airways (via Doha)

  • Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul)

  • Emirates (via Dubai)

  • Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi)

  • Oman Air (via Muscat)

Multi-Stop Flights:

  • There are also several airlines that offer flights from the UK to Kathmandu with multiple layovers. These flights are usually less expensive but take more time.

Departure Airports:

Major airports in the UK that offer flights to Kathmandu include:

  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

  • London Gatwick Airport (LGW)

  • Manchester Airport (MAN)

  • Birmingham Airport (BHX)

Tips for Booking Flights:

Book in Advance: It is recommended to book your flights well in advance to get the best prices and availability.

Compare Prices: Use online flight comparison platforms to compare prices from different airlines.

Consider Layover Time: Be mindful of the layover time when booking your flight. A longer layover can make the journey more tiring, while a very short layover can be stressful if your first flight is delayed.

Check the Luggage Allowance: Make sure to check the luggage allowance of the airline and consider the baggage you will be carrying for the Yatra.

Consider the Arrival Time: Try to book a flight that arrives in Kathmandu during the day. This will give you time to rest and acclimatize before starting the Yatra.

Remember to check the latest travel advisories and entry requirements for Nepal and any transit countries before booking your flight.

Nepal to Tibet

Traveling from Nepal to Tibet involves crossing the Nepal-China border. There are several transport options available for this journey:

Overland:

  • The most popular and adventurous way to travel from Nepal to Tibet is by road. The journey from Kathmandu to the Tibet border can be made by private vehicle or shared jeep.

  • The border crossing is at Kyirong (also spelled Gyirong) port. After crossing the border, you can continue your journey to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, by road. The drive from Kyirong to Lhasa takes about one day and passes through beautiful landscapes and Tibetan villages.

  • Note that independent travel is not allowed in Tibet, so you must be part of an organized tour with a registered tour operator. Your tour operator will arrange the necessary permits and transportation.

Helicopter:

For those who prefer a more luxurious and comfortable journey, there is an option to travel by helicopter from Kathmandu to the Tibet border. However, this option is significantly more expensive and may not be available all the time.

Remember that you will need a Chinese visa and Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet. These must be arranged in advance through a registered tour operator. It is also advisable to check the latest travel advisories and border crossing status before your journey as there can sometimes be restrictions or closures.

Nepal to Kailash Mansarovar

The journey from Kathmandu to Kailash Mansarovar is a thrilling adventure that takes you from the bustling capital of Nepal across the Nepal-China border and into the remote and beautiful landscapes of Tibet. Here is a detailed outline of the journey:

Kathmandu to Kyirong:

  • The first leg of the journey is from Kathmandu to Kyirong (Gyirong), the border town in Tibet.

  • The distance is approximately 175 kilometers and takes about 7-8 hours by road. The road is mostly paved but can be bumpy in some sections.

  • The journey passes through scenic landscapes, terraced fields, and traditional Nepali villages. There is a checkpoint at Rasuwagadhi where you will need to show your Chinese visa and Tibet Travel Permit to cross the border.

Kyirong to Saga:

  • After crossing the border and entering Tibet, the next leg of the journey is from Kyirong to Saga.

  • The distance is approximately 370 kilometers and takes about 7-8 hours by road. The road is mostly paved and in good condition.

  • The journey passes through high-altitude plateaus, rivers, and the vast Tibetan landscape.

Saga to Lake Mansarovar:

  • The next leg of the journey is from Saga to Lake Mansarovar.

  • The distance is approximately 370 kilometers and takes about 7-8 hours by road. The road is mostly paved and in good condition, but there can be rough sections.

  • The journey passes through more stunning Tibetan landscapes and you will start to get glimpses of the Himalayan range.

Lake Mansarovar to Darchen:

  • Darchen is the base camp for the Mount Kailash trek and is the starting point for the Kailash Kora (circuit).

  • The distance from Lake Mansarovar to Darchen is approximately 40 kilometers and takes about 1-2 hours by road.

Darchen to Mount Kailash:

  • The final leg of the journey is the trek from Darchen around Mount Kailash and back to Darchen.

  • The Kailash Kora is approximately 52 kilometers and takes about 2-3 days to complete. The trek passes through high-altitude passes, remote valleys, and offers stunning views of Mount Kailash.

Note: The journey from Kathmandu to Kailash Mansarovar involves traveling at high altitudes and through remote areas. It is important to be well-prepared and to travel with a registered tour operator who can arrange the necessary permits, transportation, and accommodation. Also, it is advisable to acclimatize properly and to be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Undertaking the Kailash Yatra

The Kailash Parikrama, also known as Kailash Kora or Kailash Circuit, is a 52-kilometer trek around the sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet. It is considered one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Bonpo. Pilgrims believe that completing the Kora will bring good fortune and wash away the sins of a lifetime.

The Kora starts and ends in the small town of Darchen, located at the base of Mount Kailash. The trek typically takes 2-3 days to complete, although some devout pilgrims try to complete it in a single day. The trek is physically demanding due to the high altitude, rough terrains, and steep ascents and descents.

Day 1: Darchen to Dirapuk

  • The first day of the Kora involves a trek from Darchen to Dirapuk Monastery.

  • The distance is approximately 20 kilometers and takes about 5-7 hours.

  • The trail passes through the Lha-chu Valley and offers stunning views of Mount Kailash's north face.

Day 2: Dirapuk to Zutulpuk

  • The second day is the most challenging part of the Kora as it involves crossing the Dolma La Pass, the highest point of the trek at 5,636 meters (18,490 feet).

  • The distance is approximately 18 kilometers and takes about 7-9 hours.

  • The trail passes through rocky terrains, and the ascent to Dolma La Pass is steep and strenuous. At the top of the pass, pilgrims often leave prayer flags and other offerings. The descent from the pass is also steep and can be slippery.

  • After crossing the pass, the trail passes by Gauri Kund, a sacred lake, and then descends to the Zutulpuk Monastery.

Day 3: Zutulpuk to Darchen

  • The final day of the Kora involves a trek from Zutulpuk Monastery back to Darchen.

  • The distance is approximately 14 kilometers and takes about 3-5 hours.

  • The trail follows the Zhong-chu Valley and is relatively flat and easy.

Note: The Kailash Kora is a high-altitude trek and involves traveling in remote areas. It is important to be well-prepared and to travel with a registered tour operator who can arrange the necessary permits, transportation, and accommodation. Also, it is advisable to acclimatize properly and to be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness. It is recommended to consult a healthcare professional before embarking on the Kora and to undergo a thorough medical check-up.

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is filled with significant stops, both spiritually and culturally.

Kathmandu: The journey usually starts from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It is a vibrant city with a rich history and is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world.

Kyirong: This is the border town in Tibet. Kyirong is known for its beautiful scenery and is the gateway to the Tibetan plateau.

Saga: A typical Tibetan town and it's usually the first overnight stop in Tibet.

Lake Mansarovar: One of the most significant stops of the Yatra. It is one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world and is considered sacred by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Bonpos. Pilgrims believe that bathing in the lake and drinking its water will cleanse all sins.

Darchen: The base camp for the Mount Kailash trek and the starting point for the Kailash Kora.

Dirapuk: This is the first stop of the Kailash Kora. The Dirapuk Monastery offers stunning views of the north face of Mount Kailash.

Dolma La Pass: The highest point of the Kailash Kora. It is a challenging ascent but is considered the most spiritual part of the journey.

Zutulpuk: The second stop of the Kailash Kora. The Zutulpuk Monastery is associated with the Tibetan yogi and poet Milarepa.

Challenges and Tips

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is a deep and life-changing journey, but it also has its own set of difficulties. To make sure the trip is safe and enjoyable, it's important to be well-prepared and know about different parts of it. This part is meant to remind you of some important things before and during the Yatra:

Altitude Sickness:

Symptoms: Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can occur when you ascend to a high altitude too quickly. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Headache

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Rapid heartbeat

Prevention:

  • Acclimatize properly by ascending slowly and allowing your body to adjust to the changes in altitude. Spend a few days at a lower altitude before starting the Yatra.

  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can lead to dehydration.

  • Eat a diet high in carbohydrates.

  • Take it easy and don't overexert yourself.

  • Consult a healthcare professional before the journey and consider taking altitude sickness medication as a preventive measure.

Remedies:

  • Descend to a lower altitude immediately if you start experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness.

  • Rest and stay hydrated.

  • Take altitude sickness medication if prescribed by a healthcare professional.

  • Oxygen can be helpful in relieving symptoms. Carry a portable oxygen cylinder if possible.

  • Seek medical help immediately if symptoms worsen or if you experience severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, or inability to walk.

Local Customs and Etiquette:

  • Respect for Religion: The people of Tibet and the Mansarovar region are deeply religious. Respect their beliefs and customs, even if you don't share them. For example, always walk clockwise around religious sites, stupas, and prayer wheels.

  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, their property, or inside religious sites. Some religious sites may prohibit photography altogether.

  • Dress Modestly: Dress conservatively and cover your shoulders and knees, especially when visiting religious sites.

  • Don't Touch Heads: The head is considered the most sacred part of the body, so avoid touching people's heads.

  • Use Right Hand or Both Hands: Use your right hand or both hands when giving or receiving something. Using the left hand alone is considered impolite.

Emergency Contacts:

It's important to have a list of emergency contact numbers readily available. Here are some numbers that might be helpful:

  • Local emergency services: 110 (police), 120 (ambulance), 119 (fire)

  • Local tour operator: [contact details of your tour operator]

  • Your country's embassy in China: [contact details of your embassy]

  • Nearest hospital or medical facility: [contact details of the nearest medical facility]

Note: Make sure to verify these numbers before your trip as they may change. Also, keep in mind that mobile phone service may be limited or unavailable in some remote areas.

Our Final Words

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is not just a physical trip; it is also a spiritual odyssey that gives people a deep feeling of inner peace and satisfaction. In this blog, we've talked about different parts of the journey, such as its importance, how to prepare physically and mentally, how to get the necessary visas and permits, what to pack, and how to understand the journey's different parts and what to remember during the Yatra.

To go on this holy trip, you need to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. It is important to be in good shape because the trip includes long days of walking over rough terrain and up and down steep hills. It's just as important to be mentally ready for the problems you might face along the way. For a successful Yatra, it's also important to get the right visas and permits, know the local traditions and manners, and have a list of people to call in case of an emergency.

Remember to respect the local practices and habits as well as the natural surroundings. Don't leave anything behind and do good things for the local neighborhoods. Last but not least, stay upbeat, stay motivated, and open your heart and mind to the journey.

We hope that your trip to Kailash Mansarovar is safe, full, and life-changing.  Om Namah Shivaya!

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