PART 1 This is a travelogue about Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, which I took through Government of India (organized by MEA) via Lipulekh Pass route. KMY is organized by MEA between June to September with max of 60 pilgrims per batch. Pilgrims wishing to undertake this Yatra must hold a valid Indian passport and be between the age of 18-70 and medically fit. Another government approved route is through Nathula pass (starts from Sikkim). Few private operators also offer customized packages through Nepal route. The idea of this blog is to acquaint people who wish to undertake the Yatra in future with relevant information, which is not adequately available on the web. And also to share my journey to the realm of Shiva and experiences I had. The purpose of my journal is to share my experiences and more importantly information that is not available online. May 5, 2016 I received a mail and SMS about my confirmation of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra for which one has to register through their website (KMY.gov.in). I was allotted batch #12 and days of my yatra were July 22 - Aug 16. I was a solo traveler on Kailash Manasarovar Yatra and all other co-travelers were unknown to me back then. This yatra was a homage to my father who was a mountain goat and would tell us that mountains are the best place to seek God’s attention. Journey to Kailash Manasarovar was to find that inner silence, inner quietude, the mandala. I had to deposit Rs 5000 by May 13th to confirm my attendance for the yatra. Afterwards, I received a confirmation in a few days. The journey for a solo traveler would unfold in days to come.. Physical preparation for the Yatra Since this yatra is long and arduous and covers more than 250 kms, one needs to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit. Especially if you wish to take this journey on foot without hiring a pony. My preparation started with cycling 20-30 kms a day alternating with 8kms walk, yoga and trekking in between. Immensely helpful was my uncle, Mr Rajinder Raina who already has done Kailash Manasarovar Yatra around 18 times. His valuable guidance really helped me in planning my yatra. If you are a couch potato with poor physical fitness, it’s imperative that you build your stamina. Even if you plan to take pony, it’s critical to be fit and be ready to trek through regions where ponies can’t go. Medical tips Since I’m a Doctor, there are a few things, which I would like to bring to your notice. Never underestimate mountains and altitude. In my batch, we had multiple cases of high altitude, cerebral edema and pulmonary edema, who were managed by grace of Shiva. So, let’s look at certain pointers before you undertake the yatra: Stop smoking by all means. Start walking each day and consider Yoga and pranayama. Continue taking your anti hypertensive medicine (if taking currently). Do not stop on day of your medical tests as it will lead to very high blood pressure during the test, which will be aggravated by stress of not getting selected. Take your medicine very early morning with a sip of water. If you’re diabetic, do not forget to bring your glucometer with you to monitor your blood sugar levels. It’s advisable to get knee caps and ankle support. You might need them in case you inadvertently twist your ankle during long hikes through the extremely rugged Himalayan regions. One lady in our batch twisted her ankle, but with her grit and determination and ankle support, she completed her Yatra successfully. For people older than 50 yrs of age, it’s advisable to carry calcium and multivitamin supplements. It’s personal choice to get tetanus vaccination done prior to yatra If you have not had vaccination done in more than six months. Always make others in your batch aware of your allergies and any medical condition you have. Never taken acute mountain sickness lightly. Keep yourself hydrated with proper intake of water and never ignore even slightest symptoms of AMS, which include headache, nausea, etc Wrap your toe fingers and friction points in your feet with Doctor’s tape. You will thank me for this as it will help you minimize blisters. Additionally use, medicated dusting powder. Get a good sunscreen of SPF 50 or above, lipbalm and good quality sunglasses. Consider taking medical insurance through Insubuy, which is the only company globally that offers this service. Normal insurance carriers do not offer insurance for Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. Don't forget to carry medicines as mentioned in the brochure and always keep medical bag handy. Keep warm as the weather can deteriorate anytime and hypothermia can set in, as happened with one of my fellow yatris during our trek from Navidhang to Lipulekh pass. Don’t be taxed about medical tests at Gunji. Stress increases blood pressure. Have faith in scheme of things. Hope you find these tip useful. To be continued..