Day 0: Before the Yatra
Zoom in to see route details. Click on map points and routes to get more info.
Clothes to Carry
You can buy most of the winter warm clothes from Decathlon.
|Blister Free Sox||1|
|Inner warm Glove||1|
|UV Resist Sun Glasses||1|
|Rain Jacket and pants with hood||1|
|Cotton Full Sleeve Shirts||3|
|Cotton Half Sleeve Shirts||3|
|Sweater Half Sleeve and Full Sleeve||1|
In addition, take a small backpack (will be with the porter during Parikrama) and a large backpack or a suitcase. The large one will be left behind at Kathmandu. During the Parikrama you can only carry one change of clothes and rain wear. You will be wearing 3 layers of clothes and won’t change them once you start off from Yamadwar.
Carry dry fruits, energy bars and trail mix. Carry a small 750 ml thermos and a plastic cover for the backpack. You are also advised to carry Diamox (IOPAR SR 250mg) and eat one a day before breakfast, from Simikot onwards till you come back to Nepalgunj. This helps you acclimatize better.
It is recommended that you follow a training schedule to ensure you are fit enough for the parikrama. Minimum recommendations from our tour guide from NALS is given below. They suggest starting the regimen 6 to 8 weeks before the yatra.
A seven day workout schedule is provided below as a guideline for the beginner.
Day 1 – Breathing Exercises
• Brisk walk 2 Km – 20 minutes
• Breathing Exercises – 30 minutes
• Meditate – 10 minutes
Day 2 – Strengthening Day
• Brisk Walk 2 Km – 20 minutes
• Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) 10 to 50 repetitions – 30 minutes
• Abdomen crunches 10 to 50 repetitions – 10 minutes
Day 3 – Cardio Day
• Stair climbing or step climbing or speed walk on inclined tread mill – 30 min
• Elevate and maintain heart rate between 120 to 140 beats per minute.
• Cool down slowly
Days 4, 5 – repeat of Day 1, 2
Day 6 – Rest day
Day 7 – Endurance Day
• Brisk walking 12 to 18 Km – About 120 to 180 minutes
• Some days, carry 5 kilo backpack for shorter distances
It is good to do a physical checkup before you go. Some agencies insist on a medical certificate. Some even ask for a Treadmill test report.
Carry enough batteries for your camera and other accessories. Batteries discharge really fast in cold weather.
You have power in most of the places and hence will be able to recharge your phones. International Roaming works throughout the journey except 2 days of the Parikrama. Nepal SIM cards will not work from Hilsa on. So don’t bother to get one.
Chinese allow people below 65 years to do the Parikrama. However you can go till Manasarovar even if you are older.
Altitudes and Typical Temperatures
|Place||Altitude Meters||Altitude Feet||Day Temperature (C)||Night Temperature|
|Dolma Pass||5650||18532||10||Below 0|
Parikrama Route Map
|Place||Distance Km||Time Taken||Mode|
|Nepalgunj||515||60 Mins||60 Seater Aircraft|
|Simikot||216||60 Mins||16 Seater Aircraft|
|Hilsa||50||25 Mins||6 Seater Helicopter|
|Manasarovar Parikrama||105||180 Mins||Bus|
|Diraphuk||12||4 to 5 Hours||Walk|
|Zutulphuk||18||10 to 12 Hours||Walk|
|Darchen||14||3 to 4 Hrs||10 Km walk, 4 Km Bus|
Day 1: Bangalore – Kathmandu
Direct flight from Bangalore to Kathmandu by Nepal Airlines. This flight operates only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. We stayed at the Royal Singhi hotel in Kathmandu. 4 Star hotel. Good food and comfortable rooms.
Day 2: Kathmandu Temples
Morning we visited the Swayambhu Stupa. It is a half hour ride from the hotel. The Nepal earthquake in 2015, did major damages to this site and renovation is underway.
We met our co-yatris in the evening, visited the Pashupathinath temple and Guheshwari Devi temple on the banks of the Bhagmati river. Pashupatinath Sandhya Aarti by the river is a must see.
There are a bunch of restaurants and cafes, walking distance from the Royal Singi hotel. Try the momos and Thukpa for dinner.
Day 3: Kathmandu – Nepalgunj
After a heavy breakfast, we had a briefing on Acute Mountain Sickness and other Altitude and temperature related issues by Mr. Seshadri of NALS and Narendra Bhatta of Heritage Tours and Travels. Bhatta stressed on the importance of being cool and calm about uncertainties in the journey and flight schedules.
After a hurried lunch at the hotel, our group of 37 yatris, including Dharma, our guide from Heritage Tours, took a flight to Nepalganj. Flight time is about and hour. Both Budha Air and Yeti fly small aircrafts with a seating capacity of 60 or so, to Nepalgunj.
In Nepalgunj we stayed at the Kitchen Hut. This is probably not the best property, but is reasonably clean and has good food.
We had an early dinner and went to bed by 10:30 PM.
Day 4: Stuck in Nepalgunj. No flight to Simikot
We had an early breakfast and waited in the hotel for a call for the Simikot flight. Around 11.00 AM we are asked to rush to the airport. We wait outside the airport for 2 hours in the scorching 34 degree heat.
Flights are not taking off due to bad weather. So we return to the same hotel and get back our own rooms with difficulty.
An evening of Karaoke, walk to the local market and a bus ride into town followed by local rickshaw tuk tuk ride back to hotel. All shops closed by 8.00 PM or so. There is a decent cinema hall in town, but the last show starts by 9 PM.
Girl and sister at the local restaurant.
Lady at the Nepalgunj Airport
We have dinner, and are asked to be ready by 7.00 AM next morning.
Day 5: One more day of missed flights
We had an early breakfast to get ready for the flight, but we are told that flight is only at 11.00 AM. Only Goma and Tara Airlines fly from Nepalgunj to Simikot. These are very much smaller planes and can carry only 16 people at a time. And backlogs from previous days are cleared first.
First batch of the 7 from our group make it to the first flight. Another batch of 15 people leave. Then around 12:30 PM we all set out to the airport and wait. The earlier batch of 15 is still waiting. By late afternoon, we are told to go back to the hotel, but a different one this time. Hotel Kalpataru with better rooms and good food. We are told about batches arriving from Kathmandu, who need to be accommodated in other hotels, and hence the move to this new place for the night.
Day 6: Nepalgunj – Simikot – Purang
Today we were fortunate to get the second flight out of Nepalgunj. The flight time is about an hour.
Simikot has a decent hotel called the Sun Valley Resort. We were supposed to stay here to acclimatize. However since we had lost two days already, we took a chopper after a long wait, to Hilsa, the last point in Nepal. The flight takes around 25 to 30 minutes. There is serious weight restriction and you can not carry more than 15 Kg of total luggage per person. And at a time only 6 passengers can be transported, so the group gets split here and reassembles at Hilsa.
Views from the Chopper
Accomodation at Hilsa is very primitive.We had lunch here, rested for an hour and then headed to the hanging bridge which separates Nepal from China. The bridge is over the river Karnali which also defines the Nepal/China border.
The Chinese checkpoint opposite Hilsa is just a very hot sunny land. There are no buildings. They are building a large immigration complex which probably should be ready by 2017. We had to stand in line for a long time in the hot sun while Chinese police checked our phones, hand baggage and some of our bags and removed even Newspapers! You are not allowed to take any pictures of the immigration area. So many people had to delete pics from cameras and phones.
From this point the Chinese take over. Things become very much more organized and strict. They allocate a guide to each group and he then takes the group in a bus to the embassy at Takalkot (Nepalese name), called Purang/Burang by the Tibetans. A very bumpy one hour ride. Took us some waiting at the embassy to get clearances, as they were shut for lunch. Once back from lunch, they quickly finished the visa formalities. The toilet at the embassy was a hole in the ground, typical of toilets in Tibet. From here we were taken in another bus to the nearby Himalaya Pulan Hotel. Reasonably clean, western toilets and running hot water for a few hours. This is probably our last chance to have a shower! Also the last chance to buy any last minute rations, food, walking sticks and Oxygen cans. From now on, you will not meet anyone who can speak English! Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7: Purang to Manasarovar by bus
Purang is also called Burang. After breakfast, we went to the market and bought some accessories for the trek. Got the Flasks, Sun glasses, chocolates, water and walking sticks. Started off to Mansarovar (Mapam Yumco in Chinese) by bus, post lunch. The bus journey takes approximately two hours. You get the first views of mount Kailash across the Rakshas Tal. They do stop the bus at a good view point, for you to take your pics. By evening, we reached our hotel close to the Manasarovar.
For dinner we had a hot soup, rice, rasam and popcorn. We slept again, 6 to a room. Toilets from now on are only hole in the ground, typical Tibetan style. The night was wet and cloudy, so could not see shooting stars across the lake, the Milkyway and star studded skies. If you get clear views, do not forget to get out at night and watch the sky.
Day 8: Manasarovar Parikrama and Darchen
Late morning we started the parikrama of Manasarovar (Mapam Yumco and Darchen is Bagaxiang in Chinese) by bus, covering approximately 88 Km. The roads are reasonably good. Total time taken for the Parikrama and the holy dip and pooja, is nearly 3 hours. The water is really cold, but after the first dip, you do not feel the cold. We did our traditional 3 dips and collected the water in pet bottles. The tour guide advised us not to stay wet for more than a few minutes.
After finishing the parikrama of the lake, the bus takes you to Darchen, a distance of 53 Km, in about an hour. Darchen has a small market and if you missed buying essentials at Purang, you can try your luck here. Hotel Kailas at Darchen is decent. The rooms are ok, 3 people to a room. Has hot water and electricity. Your last chance for a hot shower and change of clothes before the parikrama starts.
Darchen from far as we drive in.
Day 9: Darchen – Yama Dwar – Diraphuk. The Parikrama starts
We have a leisurely breakfast and head out by bus, late morning to Yama Dwar, a 30 minute drive from the hotel in Darchen. This is were the Parikrama begins. You are wearing 3 to 4 layers of clothes that you will not change till you finish the Parikrama. You will spend some time getting porters and ponies allotted to you (they randomly match porters and ponies to yatris by a blind chit draw). The porters and pony men are all Tibetans and can’t speak one word of English. Will be good to carry some additional money/food for the porters and pony men. They will be friendly if you help them. The porter will only carry your less than 5 Kg backpack and the Pony man and his pony will only allow the person who booked, to ride the pony. No way you and your partner can share porters/ponies. The Pony man also will not allow you to carry a backpack on the Pony.
Do book a porter and pony. Completing the parikrama is easier if you hire a porter and pony. You have to do this early at Yamadwar. You can’t decide to hire them later. There is nothing after you leave Yamadwar. Diraphuk to Situlphuk on day 2 is really hard with Dolma La (pass) that is at 5800 meters. Many people go back from Diraphuk to Darchen and wait for the rest of the party to finish.
All that being said, Mansarovar view or Diraphuk view of Mt. Kailas is so lovely, it just doesn’t matter if you really complete the physical route. Three parikramas at Yamadwar is as good as the entire three day parikrama.
Once you are allotted porters/ponies, you will do 3 parikramas at Yamadwar and start off to Dhiraphuk. You also leave behind what is precious to you at Yamadwar. Try to leave behind what money can’t buy. A feeling of peace and calm descends on you. The distance from Yamadwar to Diraphuk is about 15 Km and will take about four to five hours. You have beautiful views of Mt. Kailas on this leg of the journey.
Day one parikrama pictures
We had hot kichidi and roti with papad for dinner. We were amazed by the sight of Mt. Kailas under the Milkyway. Sub zero temperatures and the altitude made everyone say I am crazy to go out and take pics. But it was worth the effort.
Day 10: Diraphuk – Zutulphuk
We set out early morning after a quick breakfast, with packed lunch. This is the hardest leg of the parikrama, covering a distance of 20 plus Km. Going real uphill to the Dolma la pass at 5800 m and then a steep descend where ponies can’t be used. It is really cold. Fortunately for us it did not rain. One gets glimpses of Mt. Kailas, but not as great as day one. There is a shack past the descend, where one can get Chinese tea and noodles. By afternoon we reached Zutulphuk.
The hotel here is very basic, like a shed. Toilet is still hole in the ground. Five people to a room. Six of us managed to squeeze in here too. Hot food was served in the rooms. The night was cloudy and cold, but way better than Diraphuk.
Day 11: Zutulphuk – Darchen – Purang – Hilsa – Simikot.
This is the last day of the Parikrama. A short three hour walk from Zutulphuk takes one to the road head where your bus will be waiting for you. There is a teas shop here and you can have Chinese tea and noodles here. Ride to Darchen in the bus, lunch at Darchen hotel. Drive to Purang to complete the immigration formalities, bus back to the chinese side of Hilsa. Cross over and wait for a chopper at Hilsa. We managed to get the last chopper out and reached Simikot. Stayed at the Sun Valley Resort in Simikot. It’s a nice property and has a common bathroom with running cold water. You get to take your first shower after the dip in Manasarovar. Night halt here. Six people to a room.
Zutulphuk to Darchen Pictures
Day 12: Simikot – Nepalgunj – Kathmandu
We woke up early, had breakfast, packed and ran to the small airport at Simikot. Managed to get the last 6 tickets to Nepalgunj. Had to wait a long time before our flight arrived. Flights could not land due to bad weather on the Nepalgunj – Simikot flight path. Had lunch at hotel Sidhartha in Nepalgunj. Headed back to airport and to Kathmandu. Reached Kathmandu by 7:30 PM or so and checked into the same Royal Singi Hotel. Went out to dinner at the Thamel House. Lovely ambience and great food.
Day 13: Kathmandu – Bangalore
Thanked every one in the group for a life changing experience and headed back home.
Om Namo Shivaya.