Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has said that he will embark on a Kailash Mansarovar Yatra after the Karnataka elections, is yet to register himself for the pilgrimage organised by the Ministry of External Affairs every year. Official sources within the MEA said that the name of Rahul Gandhi is not on the list of pilgrims who will undertake the yatra from 8 June to 8 September this year. Sources said Rahul, in case he actually decides to go on the Parikrama, will have to either engage a private travel company, which takes pilgrims to the holy mountain or seek assistance from the government of either Nepal or China. The registration for this year’s travel started on 20 February and ended on 23 March.
While speaking at a public rally in New Delhi, Rahul said that when he was going to Karnataka his aircraft started malfunctioning and suddenly descended by 8,000 feet, when the thought that he should visit Kailash Mansarovar came to his mind suddenly.
While the Yatra organised by the MEA takes around 25 days, the one organised by the private players can be completed within one to two weeks depending on the place from which the pilgrim decides to embark on the journey. The one organised by the MEA involves an arduous trek during which pilgrims have to pass through altitudes as high as 19,500 feet, under inhospitable conditions. Hence, MEA encourages the participation of only those who are perfectly fit and have immense stamina to survive the steep and long climbs. Those who do not want to take much risk, can engage private tour operators who also use helicopters to shorten the travel time to Kailash. The MEA uses two routes for the yatra, one through Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand), which is conducted in 18 batches of 60 pilgrims each. The duration of the yatra is 24 days for each batch, including three days in New Delhi for preparatory work. The second route is through Nathu La Pass (Sikkim), which is motorable and suitable for senior citizens who are unable to do the trek. This year 10 batches of 50 pilgrims each are scheduled to begin the yatra via this route.