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Old 24th August 2011, 14:41   #1
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Default When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

"The body was shivering as the limbs were trying hard not to go numb. Chilled air was finding some way to enter thru the six layers of clothing’s I had on me, rain drops were freezing my nose and my eyelids. No one dare sit down to rest or the Chinese might send you back on medical grounds. There were around 70 including porters, security personnel and yatris huddled up in a small area waiting for the Chinese to give yatris the green signal to cross over to their territory. Everyone including the porters, who come there almost every week, were getting frustrated at the situation. Was it the freezing temperatures coupled with cold winds, was it the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere, was it the unearthly hours that we were there at or was it a mixture of all of the above?"

This is a journal about The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra- 2011 to Tibet that I was lucky to be a part of. The journey that started on 18th of July, 2011 from Delhi finally finished on 13th August, 2011 back in Delhi. For most it’s a religious trip to the Abode of Lord shiva- Mt. Kailash, but for me it was more of an adventure trip than being a religious one. My love for hills, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, lakes etc etc made me undertake this journey.

A few important points before I start off:-

Whatever information I give in this is whatever information I have with me or whatever information I have collected. I will try my level best to give 100% authentic information but if some information is not correct, then it maybe an oversight. Also certain information may not be valid in the subsequent years

As this journey also involves traveling thru border areas of our country to a “not so friendly” neighbor I shall deliberately hold back some information as not to jeopardize the safety of our nation. Though most of the stuff is available on the net these days but still if I am not comfortable sharing something I won’t. I know you guys will understand and just search the net instead

I have collected some co-ordinates all along the journey and I have tried to plot it on google earth showing you guys the route we travelled. Since at some places due to narrow valleys and heavy cloud cover there was no satellite reception hence the route may not be 100% correct, but it will at least give you some idea of the terrain and the elevation.

Bulk of the photos are from my Sony A 2000 DSLR with 18-70 kit lens. Some panorama photos are from Sony P&S and the rest are from my Nokia phone. Some photos are edited but most are just resized and cropped.

So here we go!!
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Old 24th August 2011, 14:48   #2
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

After my first trip to Kailash Mansarovar in the year 2009 with my mother via the Nepal route, I always wanted to visit the place again. One reason being that I could not finish the parikrama of Mt. kailash last time and a bigger reason being that I wanted to explore the Indian route the next time I went. Luckily the opportunity presented itself when I was selected for the 9th Batch of the Ministry Of External affairs (MEA) organized trip to Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2011 (KMY-2011).

MEA invites applications for KMY every year in Feb-March. You can keep an eye on MEA website for application forms and the terms and conditions. Forms have to be duely filled and sent to them before a certain date. Then a computerized selection takes place and yatris if selected by the computer are informed about the batch numbers via post. Results can also be checked on their website.

Usually every year there are 16 batches which leave for the yatra on precise dates in between June beginning and till August end. These are the months when the weather is most favorable. Each batch has a maximum number of 60 participants. Some applicants are put on waiting list (or RAC like in trains). There have been cases where WL No. 30 also has been cleared. So even if you are on waiting list it would be prudent to start preparing yourself for the trip as WL people are confirmed at the last minute. Yatris confirm their bookings by sending a DD of Rs5000/- in favour of Kumaon mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN).

MEA website has quite an exhaustive list of preparations to be done before the trip. Its wise to take a print out of it and keep it handy all the time. For me, it being the 2nd time, I was pretty certain as to what all I need so I just kept it very simple. There are also some indemnity bonds to be signed and lots of undertakings to be done, so best is to do it before reaching Delhi
Excerising is one big part of preparation for this trip as this route involves a lot of stamina and also a lot of will power. Also there are 2 strict medical tests that are held en-route, so best is to know your body and its weaknesses beforehand and try to overcome it to avoid disappointment at final stages. Smokers should try and quit smoking, well I say try as I myself could not give up. Those suffering from major illnesses of the lungs or the heart or any other are advised best not to undertake this journey. No reason I believe is superior than your health. More about a yatri who had to be evacuated by a chopper due to HAPE later.

With all the preparations done and full of excitement I reached Delhi on the night of 15th July. Yatris are accommodated at Gujrati Samaj while in Delhi.

The itinerary for the next month was as follows:-

Day 1: Delhi- Medical tests at Delhi Heart and Lung Institute (DHLI) & Passport collection
Day 2: Delhi – Second medical test at Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the results
Day 3: Delhi – Briefing at MEA, Visa Collection, Foreign Exchange, KMVN payments
Day 4: Delhi to Almora by bus
Day 5: Almora to Dharchula by bus
Day 6: Dharchula to Narayan Ashram By jeeps Narayan Ashram to Sirkha by foot/ pony
Day 7: Sirkha to Gala by foot
Day 8: Gala to Budhi by foot
Day 9: Budhi to Gunji
Day 10: Gunji Stay for high altitude medical
Day 11: Gunji to Nabhidhang
Day 12: Nabhidhang to Taklakote (Tibet)
Day 13: Taklakote Stay for immigration and foreign exchange
Day 14: Taklakote extended stay due to emergency
Day 15: Taklakote to Darchen by bus
Day 16: Darchen To Derapukh (Kailash Parikrama)
Day17: Derapukh to Zutulpukh (Kailash Parikrama)
Day 18: Zutulpukh to Darchen (Kailash Parikrama)
Day 19: Darchen to Trugho Gompa by bus ( on Mansarovar Banks)
Day 20: Trugho Gompa – havan and holy dip
Day 21 Trugho Gompa to Taklakote by bus (completing Mansarovar parikrama)
Day 22: Taklakote Stay
Day 23: Taklakote Stay
Day 24: Taklakote to Gunji
Day 25: Gunji to Budhi
Day 26: Budhi to Gala
Day 27: Gala to Sirkha to Dharchula
Day 28: Dharchula to Jageshwar by bus
Day 29: Jageshwar to Delhi by Bus

Please note that since our was a small group of 40 only we did not do Kailash Parikrama in 2 Batches but as one group. Also we had an extended stay in Taklkote the first time due to an emergency situation. Also while returning we covered 2 camps in one day to be a day early in Delhi.

Last edited by deky : 24th August 2011 at 15:08.
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Old 24th August 2011, 20:15   #3
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Default Day1, Day2 & Day3: Delhi

Day1: Medical test at DHLI, Delhi

It was a 0600 hrs start at Gujrati Samaj that morning. It was quite early for me but the best was to get used to it as we would be getting up much earlier the following days. The accomodation at Gujrati Samaj was quite comfortable. All the yatris were kept in an A/C dormitory, which was quite useful in getting adjusted to each other.

KMVN, that organises the trip on the Indian side had organised a bus for us to take us to the DHLI for our first medical tests. With all the yatris boarding it by 0700hrs we took off. A lady from an NGO accompanied us on the bus giving us some yoga tips on how to cope with high altitude problems. That was quite informative actually.

We had to report at the DHLI empty stomach as a complete medical test would be carried out today. A sum of Rs 3100/- has to be given to the hospital for the medical check-up.

Also during that time KMVN official collects the passports and Rs.400/- as Visa fees from the yatris. The Chinese give a group visa for religious purposes for this trip and nothing is stamped on the passport

The yatris were divided in 2 batches so that the tests could be completed as quickly as possible, but it still took around 8 hrs for all the yatris to finish their tests. There were some yatri's who had to undergo some more tests if the medical authorities felt that they had to so an additional sum of Rs2500/- was collected from them.

After everyone finished their tests and lunch we had a small briefing by doctors at DHLI on high altitude and its affects on human body. After that evryone could take the bus back to Gujrati Samaj.

The medical at DHLI is quite stringent and the results will determine if you can undertake this yatra or not. The medical reports are passed on to the ITBP doctors in Delhi who take a final call. Their decision is final and if found unfit yatris are not permitted in any batch that year.

So its essential for yatris to ensure that they are in good health and are fit before they apply for the yatra.

Pic: Briefing held by doctors at DHLI
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00220.jpg

Day 2: Final Medical at ITBP, Delhi

Today was the day when the results of the medical tests would be announced at ITBP Base Hospital so there was an uneasy calm in the bus. Before the doctors checked the reports and gave the green signals we had a briefing by an ITBP personnel. The briefing was on Do's and dont's on high altitude. It also discussed about the route and the possible problems we might face and the solutions.

Then came the moment of truth when we were again divided in 2 groups and the doctors met us one by one with our reports from DHLI and suggested us things according to our body conditions.

Unfortunately 2 yatris could not pass the medicals here and had to be left behind.

Lunch was served by some NGO at ITBP base hospital itself. They distributed lots of Puja Samagri and devotional books to us during that time. Again there was a speech on this trip and the importance etc etc. The NGO also offered food ration for the group (to be used in China- more about it later) at a subsidized cost of Rs5100/-

Also on sale were some warm clothings that are essential on this trip. I was not sure of the quality so I say its the best to pick up all clothings from home or from some reputed store.

Also they gave us a free medical first aid kit for the whole group that actually came out to be very handy during the yatra.

Today was also time, to form committee's within the group for the smooth functioning of day to day activities. The committee's that were formed:-

1. Food committee
2. Finance committee
3. Luggage committee
4. Entertainment committee

The Liason Officer is the head of the group and all the committees work under him (more on this later).

The day ended at Gujrati Samaj with bhajan's and devotional songs!!

Pic: Briefing at the ITBP base hospital
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00222.jpg

Pic: Lunch served to us by an NGO
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00226.jpg

Day 3: Briefing by MEA, Delhi

We reached MEA by 1000 hrs AM. More briefings took place and the same information that we had been hearing for the last 2 days was repeated again and again.

After the briefing at the MEA, we got our passports back. Here we had to submit the rest of the money to KMVN for the trip on the India side. KMVN charges a total of Rs27,000/- for the trip. As Rs5000/- was already sent as non-refundable advance the rest of the money had to be given here by cash or DD.

Other things that were to be given to KMVN officials are:-
1. A duly signed and attested indemnity bond on Rs10/- non-judicial paper
2. Helicopter evacuation undertaking in case of emergency
3. consent forms
4. email id's of relatives (KMVN from this year has started sending daily updates to relatives, which is an extremely good thing)

Later those yatris who did not arrange for foreign exchange were taken to a bank from where they could purchase dollars, which are to be given to the Chinese officials at Tibet side. Apart from other expenditure like pony and porter while parikrama, phone calls and shopping a sum of USD$ 750/- is required to be given to the Chinese officials for the yatra.

A function was organised by the Delhi Govt at the Gujrati Samaj in the evening. After bhajans and felicitations some free stuff was distributed. That contained
1. A big rucksack
2. a torch with 2 batteries
3. Reebok track suit
4. Ducbac rain coat and pant
5. Some havan samigri
6. A white cap like cricketers wear
7. waist pouch

I did not use any of the stuff except the track pant as all my stuff was already packed and I did not want to re arrange it. I just packed the rucksack as it is and decided to take it to Dharchula and leave it there in the cloak room. Gujrati samaj also has cloak room fascility but at a charge.

The rest of the evening was spent packing bags, making them rain proof and tieing them up properly. The packing material and nylon rope with walking sticks was given to us complimentary by another NGO.

It was almost midnight by the time packing was done at the next day would be a 0500 hrs start from Delhi. I had to get up at 0400 hrs as I was a part of the luggage committee and we had to collect and count all the luggage that was to go in a truck till Dharchula.

Pic: Briefing at the MEA
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00227b.jpg

Bhajan and felicitations organised by the Govt Of Delhi
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00231.jpg

Dinner at the Function
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00234.jpg

The real journey starts tomorrow
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Old 25th August 2011, 13:22   #4
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Default Various committees and their role during yatra


The Liason Officer (LO)
The MEA appoints a LO for each batch who is at the rank of an under secretary or above with the Govt Of India. The LO is the executive head and the leader of the group and is responsible for maintaining discipline and orderly conduct. He is the sole spokesman of the group and is responsible for liaising with Indian and Chinese authorities and his decision in all matters is final.

Food Committee
This committee is responsible for deciding menu’s on the Tibet side of the journey. Since we have to buy and cook our own food During Kailash and Mansarovar parikrama, the members of this committee buy collective ration and hire cooks on Tibet side for the whole group. The collective ration bought during India goes as common luggage.

Luggage committee
They are responsible for the luggage of the whole group. Each yatri is allowed to take 20kgs of luggage. 5kg per yatri is allocated for the collective food stuff that is transported to China. The main luggage of a yatri after Dharchula is transported by ponies and this is when the luggage restriction comes in place. So the luggage committee every day has to count the number of bags received from the yatris and given to the luggage contractor so at the need of the day we receive the same number of bags from the contractor.

Finance committee
Finance committee is responsible for collecting and controlling funds that are required for the whole group. Like money for common food, money for hiring cooks, money for collective tips, money for donations at various temples etc etc. Each member had given Rs3000/- towards common fund for the whole trip

Disciplinary Committee
I dont know why this was even formed at the first place
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Old 25th August 2011, 13:38   #5
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Default Day4 & Day5 : Delhi - Almora - Dharchula

Day4 : Delhi to Almora: 360kms

It was an early morning start, very early for the luggage committee. The luggage committee was suppose to get up an hour before the other yatris to collect the luggage count them and give it to the luggage contractor. The luggage was then loaded on to a truck and was sent on it way. The luggage was suppose to go straight to Dharchula instead of going to Almora where we were supposed to halt at the night.

The yatris were ready by 0600 hrs and after a grand send off by another NGO at Gujrati Samaj we were on our way to Kathgodam. We were suppose to change buses at Kathgodam, leave the luxurious volvo we were traveling in and get on to smaller buses.

But before that breakfast was organised at Gaziabad by another NGO. So after more felicitations, more speeches, and more freebies and breakfast we were back again en-route to the destination of the day- Almora.

After crossing the good yet messy and chaotic roads of UP we reached Kathgodam. KMVN had organised a reception and lunch for us there. After a quick lunch we transferred to smaller non-a/c buses for the rest of our journey. The journey was getting better and better and much cooler as we went higher up in the mountains.

Rain and cool breeze helped the atmosphere to liven up. This was also the best time to get to know people and interact with them. Its funny how the mind decides whom to be with and whom to ignore on such journeys. And its funny how your first instinct is usually always right in such matters. The same happened with me. the friends I made during the first few days happened to be my best friends for the rest of the trip.

Since it was a religious trip, we stopped by all the major temples en-route, After all we were in Uttrakhand- Dev Bhumi!! Such stoppages were always welcome as this gave us time to get out of the cramped bus and stretch our limbs and ofcourse also have Chai-Pakoras enjoying the lovely weather.

So with all the stoppages by the time we reached Almora it was pretty late. KMVN had organised our stay in one of their rest houses. The rest house was pretty nice and luckily it had hot water. So after a quick shower and dinner it was time to sleep. We would'nt be getting our luggage today so we were spared of the ritual of packing and re-packing.

Pics from Day4

Farewell at Gujrati Samaj
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00235.jpg

the group at Gazhiabad
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00242.jpg

KMVN guest house at Kathgodam
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00244.jpg
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00246.jpg

Felicitations and lunch at Kathgodam
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00247.jpg

A temple en-route we stopped at.
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00251.jpg

Enjoying the chai-Pakora in the lovely weather
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00252.jpg

Reached Almora KMVN late in the evening
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00259.jpg

DAY5 : Almora to Dharchula (210 kms)

Almora to Dharchula was to be done in the small buses we boarded at Kathgodam. We started quite early as usual and had to stop at a place called Dania for breakfast. All the meals & accommodation are oragnised by KMVN at their guest houses in India side. The meals are simple yet are served hot so are quite tasty.

After Dania we reached the town of Pithoragarh. Again after a grand reception by school kids and Lunch we moved on towards Dharchula. The roads from here onwards got really narrow and really bad. There were lots of land slides on the way which were just cleared or were being cleared as we reached.

The progress was slow and the ride was bumpy, The narrow mountainous roads and continuous rain was making the ride even more adventurous. But no one was complaining. Everyone was busy enjoying the vistas or napping.

Then we stopped at a few more temples before we reached Mirthi. Mirthi is the ITBP head quarters. At Mirthi we had a splendid welcome with a few cultural programmes, some snacks and some more briefings. Whatever Our Men in uniform do, they do it with their heart and not because its their duty, this is what separates them from others. ITBP briefings have been the best so this time also it was precise and to the point. There was no scoring points over the yatris like some of the NGO's were trying to do earlier.

We also had our group photograph taken here which was given to us on return.

It was late by the time we reached Dharchula. Dharchula is a border time on River Kali. Kali forms the natural border between India and Nepal. There is a bridge that connects the two nations and the bridge is open from 0600 hrs till 1800hrs. Since Nepal is one of the countries where we can just walk into without any documents so this bridge is used by locals from both the countries to cross over. Surprising the town on Nepal side is also called Dharchula but its written as Darchula ( just a phoenetic difference)

It was raining heavily when we reached Dharchula, so any plans of going out and visiting the town were quashed. Our luggage was also waiting for us so we also had to unpack and pack our luggage again and give it back to the luggage committee with in two hours.

Dharchula KMVN guest house is one of the place where they have free cloak room facility for yatris. So if planned accordingly some luggage can be left here. Also here you can leave your extra cash or valuables safely.

Also at Dharchula the requirement for pony and porters has to be given as we will be on foot from tomorrow onwards. Luggage also has to be weighed here and no yatri is allowed to carry 25 kgs (20kgs + 5 kgs of common luggage). So usually all the luggage going on ponies is weighed as a group and in groups usually some people carry less and some more so it all balances out.

Pics Day5

Cloudy mornings
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00266.jpg

Breakfast at Dania KMVN
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00267.jpg

View from Dania
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00269.jpg

Landslides on the way
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00270.jpg

My new found friends, notice my new hair style
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00272.jpg

School Kids greeting us at Pithoragarh KMVN
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00275.jpg

A genuine concern
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00278.jpg

Mirthi Camp- Reception, snacks and briefing
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00279.jpg
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00280.jpg
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00283.jpg
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00288.jpg
When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011-dsc00291.jpg

After all this it was pretty late and it was time to rest, the foot journey starts tomorrow.
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Old 25th August 2011, 13:41   #6
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Forum. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 25th August 2011, 13:48   #7
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Thats another travelogue been we all must be waiting for, this has all the indications of becoming a travel story and an absolutely priceless guide for the region.

Thanks much!
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Old 25th August 2011, 14:29   #8
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

I'm just glued to the info you've given here as i was waiting for this. I wish i go to these places one day before i get older..

Thanks for Sharing... Keep'em coming...
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Old 25th August 2011, 14:40   #9
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Immensely valuable information in the first 4 posts accompanied with nice pictures depicting the scenarios. Am tuned here for more. Seems to be Bible in making for KM parikrama. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 25th August 2011, 14:49   #10
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Absolutely. This is a great start Deky. We will join you on this through TBHP. Looking forward to rest of the account of your trip.
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Old 25th August 2011, 14:50   #11
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Absolutely vital information and great travelogue in the making. Glued to it. Thanks Deky
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Old 25th August 2011, 15:09   #12
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Dhiraj, Congrats and Welcome back. Glued to your thread now. I cant wait to hear about your experience. Will call you later tonight.
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Old 25th August 2011, 16:34   #13
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Good stuff Dhiraj and congrats on completing the Yatra this time.

The whole process seems to be systematic from the organising point of view, though its a tad early to comment.

Please keep the updates coming.

looking forward

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Old 25th August 2011, 17:30   #14
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

@deky - First congrats on being selected for this exciting journey. This sure is one trip that requires elaborate planning. After reading through your initial posts i am scared and wondering if i would be able to undertake it anytime.

What kind of fitness regimen were you following before embarking on the journey?

Waiting for further updates.
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Old 25th August 2011, 17:34   #15
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Default Re: When I Went Walking To Tibet - Kailash Mansarovar Yatra-2011

Great seeing one of your big desires getting fulfilled mate. And of course, eagerly awaiting for updates in information and clicks. "Hills, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, ...", bring it on!
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