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First batch of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra begins holy climb

First batch of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra begins holy climb
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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with the pilgrims of the first batch of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra - 2019 during its flag-off ceremony, in New Delhi on Tuesday
Highlights

Speaking at an event held at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan here, he also shared his personal experience of visiting the holy site when he was posted as an ambassador in China.

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday announced the commencement of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, while asserting that the pilgrimage is an "important step" towards promoting people-to- people exchanges, and strengthening friendship and understanding between India and China.

Speaking at an event held at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan here, he also shared his personal experience of visiting the holy site when he was posted as an ambassador in China. The minister, while announcing the commencement of the yatra for the Lipulekh route, said that the interest in the pilgrimage, which started in 1981, has "increased significantly" over the years.

For Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2019, the ministry had received 2,996 applications, out of which 2,256 were by male applicants and 740 by females. As many as 624 senior citizens had applied for the yatra. For the Lipulekh route (Uttarakhand), there will be 18 batches with 60 pilgrims each and for the Nathu La (Sikkim) route, 10 batches with 50 yatris each.

Two liaison officers will assist each batch of pilgrims. The yatra involves trekking at high altitudes of up to 19,500 feet, under inhospitable conditions, including extreme weather and rugged terrain, and may prove hazardous for those who are not physically and medically fit.

The minister, who had served as an envoy of India in China from 2009-2013, while recalling his visit to Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar in 2012, said, "My journey was much easier that what all of you are going to undertake." "I had the privilege of visiting Mt Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, not through Lipulekh or Nathu La route.

I actually was ambassador in China, when I went through Lhasa," he said. The Ministry of External Affairs organises the Yatra from June to September each year through two different routes -- Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand), and Nathu La Pass (Sikkim). Known for its religious value and cultural significance, it is undertaken by hundreds of people every year.

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