This post is part of a travel recollection from Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2018 via Lipulekh. For a list of posts in their sequence please refer to the following link:
…Continued from previous post
There was a message asking about the status of my packing for the trip. The second one since morning. It was fun, being provided with quick info, loads of moral support and encouragement from someone who had completed the trip successfully. Often those came with a heavy dose of sarcasm, which provided an additional bit of entertainment! 😉
I informed the individual that everything was, err…lying outside the bag and needed to be packed in. Later that night, just hours before I was scheduled to catch my flight to Delhi, I struggled to pack all the material I had gathered over the past three weeks into the only duffle bag I planned to carry as my main luggage. I realised that the bag was perhaps a tad bit smaller than required. But the helpdesk at the other end was confident that the duffle bag and my smallish backpack were sufficient and I got nothing but support and helpful tips from that end to finish the task of stuffing the elephant inside the sack. 😀
The preparation had begun much earlier. Despite the occasional hiccups and over sleeping, I was a reasonably consistent walker. A bit of swimming here and there, and I was fitter than the previous year. But my sedentary lifestyle due to my full time job as a software developer posed a challenge that just could not be met.
I was also sure of the fact that though this level of fitness may help me in clearing the health checks and the treadmill test, it would hardly suffice for the actual trek that the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Lipulekh is. So I was sure that I would take all help possible to complete the journey, even if that meant taking a pony. And that later part regarding the pony actually scared the hell out of me. I was scared for the poor animal though.. 😉
Later that morning I said goodbyes to my precious family members for the next few weeks as I started for the trip of my lifetime. I was unsure about the outcomes of the health checks still.
In Delhi, I met up with a fellow Yatri coming from Bangalore. It was a good hour and a LOT of struggle by that helpful individual that we reached the Gujarati Samaj Bhavan in Civil Lines. The yatra had started. And even though I did not realise then, I was carried by the circumstances in gentle, most comfortable way to reach my goal of making it a success.
People from all parts of India flocked there before their yatra started. This has been a tradition for years where the lodging and the subsequent logistics for taking them to the hospital and MEA offices during the first four days of stay. This is done free of cost by the Delhi Govt. There was a mixture of well travelled individuals and novice. A crowd that had teachers, scientists, photographers, IT experts, men in uniform, doctors, business persons, farmers and homemakers.
My roomie, Smruthi was great! 🙂 She was also a seasoned trekker. I also met Soma, a lady from Delhi, who is a meteorologist by profession, an adventurist soul, singer by hobby. And she loves to question!
The first day of medical checks in Delhi Heart & Lung Institute (DHLI) had several medical checks including blood work, X Rays, PFT and offcourse, the dreaded Trademill test that many were terrified of.
While waiting for my turn in PFT, I heard the doctor confirming someone’s name and a sweet voice correcting his spelling. It seemed like a Bengali name, and the lady turned out to be Deepanwita, also from Delhi. We called her a grass hopper because it looked like she sprinted, while others only walked while trekking! Then there was Nethra, who was an MBA turned home maker who could toss a rock 4 times on water before it dipped. :DThe only one who could do that among us! Later on, we met others who belonged to our frequency as we called it. That included among others, Sakshi, a tiny lil baby, who just became an Architect and also one could easily flourish as a witty stand-up comedian 😀 There was Shruti, one of those who make you think, off course, there was Mohit, an armyman who travelled as a yatri. Oh, the fun we had at the trip, thanks to his jokes and puns! 😀 More on those later…
We were taken to the ITBP Base Hospital in Tigri on the second day. The test results from the previous day were checked by the doctors there and the individuals were cleared for the yatra. All my batch mates cleared the health checks except one. The person was suffering from very high blood pressure and had uncontrolled sugar. His wife decided to quit as well.
The final batch contained 57 yatris and two of the most helpful and responsible Liaison officers one would find in KMY. We were lucky in that respect as well. 🙂
The third day took us to the MEA for a briefing. This was the first time I had spent time in Delhi outside of the airport. The first time to see India gate through my own eyes, though from afar. The first and perhaps the only time I would be in the high security zone. For an ordinary citizen the day was memorable! 🙂
The briefing at MEA contained pointers to be kept in mind while our travel through China. Post our session there, we got back to our place of stay in Gujarati Samaj Bhawan and did the final packing as per the new set of instruction from the authorities.
We also got some foreign currency exchanged in the form of USD and Chinese Yuan to be used on the other side of the Lipulekh. A common fund was created for the food expenses on the Chinese side. Committees were formed with individuals for managing the luggage, food, room allotment and puja activities during the yatra.
The news back home however was that there was trouble en route and the previous two batches faced major challenges in traversing the path from Dharchula to the first high altitude camp of Gunji due to the condition of the roads. To tackle this situation, there were talks of an airlift till Gunji for all following batches.
They told us that there was a chance that the route will be changed and we would be taken to the town of Pithoragarh in place of Dharchula and we will then be taken to Gunji via Indian Air-force choppers. The rest of the journey would remain as it is.
This resulted in a new maximum luggage quota of 15 KGs per person. Thing is, in this religious trip, people tend to pack up a lot of stuff with them in the form of havan samagri (things used as the offering in religious ceremony) etc. So the people started sorting out their luggage trying to figure out what to keep in the Gujarati Society locker and what to take.
And though my total luggage already weighted much less than 15 kgs, I still had a plan to leave one fresh set of cloths in Gujarati Samaj Bhaban locker. It would be a good thing to come back to those after all that dirt and grime on the road, I thought. I cant help it, its a me thing! 🙂
The night before the start of the journey was one that your mind instructed you to take rest to be prepared for what comes next and then it could not, because of the excitement. Before dawn hit, we were up and ready!
A havan, a sacred fire ceremony was done with the hope for our safe return. Strings were tied to our hand as part of the ceremony and we were on our way to the valley of the Gods before long.
The next part of the journey continues in the next post…