13 Jan :The annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, undertaken by hundreds of pilgrims involving circumambulation of Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake in Tibet, will commence in the middle of this year amid tight security.
The yatra, scheduled to be completed in 26 days, would begin in the late May or early June, depending on the weather condition."Looking at the recent security related incidents, a strong security cover would be thrown around. The exact dates would be finalised keeping in mind the weather that prevails at the yatra route," a Home Ministry official said.
The government, through the External Affairs Ministry brought out a notification in this regard on 11th January.The yatra is considered extremely arduous as it involves trekking at altitudes up to 19,500 feet, under inhospitable conditions.
"Communication and medical facilities for the smooth run of the yatra would also be enhanced with the increase of medical assistance and providing satellite phones to every batch," the officer said.
Last year, 960 pilgrims in batches of 60 each, underwent the yatra.
"In 2009, it is planned to send 16 batches each consisting of a maximum of 60 pilgrims," the notification said.Personnel of the mountain-trained ITBP would assist the yatra by providing telecommunication services through satellite phones, high-altitude medical check-up and an overall security cover to the devotees.
Apart from these duties, the ITBP will also carry out evacuation operations in case of emergencies, the officer added.
According to the MEA, yatriks will need to spend four days in New Delhi to obtain visas, undergo a comprehensive medical examination and complete financial formalities.
The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is organised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in coordination with various state and Central government agencies, since 1981 under a bilateral arrangement between India and China.