GUWAHATI, June 1 - There is a nagging demand that the Assam government should, in line with the governments of several other states of the country, come forward with a scheme to provide financial support, in the form of subsidy, to those who propose to undertake pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar.
The states that have been extending support to people undertaking pilgrimage to this holy site include the governments of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.
The subsidies extended by these state governments to each of the intending pilgrims vary from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Some of these state governments have even drawn schemes to facilitate free-of-cost travel of senior citizens to this holy destination.
The trekking route recognised by the Union Ministry of External Affairs to visit this holy site involves a total cost between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh for each of the pilgrims. But the Government of Assam is yet to initiate such a scheme for the benefit of the intending pilgrims to visit the site.
This year, the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra starts in the first week of the current month. There will be ten batches of pilgrims, each comprising 50 members. The 22-day pilgrimage through Nathula involves a thorough medical check-up of the selected pilgrims at the Delhi Heart and Lung Institute. This will be followed by a free-of-cost medical check-up at the ITBP Hospital, New Delhi.
Each of the batches of the pilgrims will fly to Bagdogra on the third day and then they will proceed to Gangtok by bus. They will be acclimatised at 15th Mile and Sherthang with the gradual rise in altitude. Then, there will be another medical check-up to asses the physical condition of the pilgrims in high altitude situations.
From there, the pilgrims are to be handed over to the Chinese authorities at Kangma through Nathula, on the sixth day. The next five days will be mostly meant for bus rides over the Tibetan plateau to cover a distance of about 1,300 km.
The Parikrama or Kora, that is circumambulation by trek involving a distance of 52 km around Mount Kailash, and then a very difficult ascent of nearly 19,000 feet altitude of Dolma Pass at Deraphuk through a place known as Yam Dwar, is there. This route overlooks the Gauri Kund, where Parvati is believed to have taken bath, as well as Pieko Tso, the lake where the Yarlung Tsangpo or the Brahmaputra originates. Thereafter the pilgrims can take their holy dip in the Mansarovar at noon when the daytime temperature is tolerable.
The Buddhist Saga Dawa festival is held between mid-April and mid-June as per the solar calendar, to celebrate the birth of the Buddha, which also coincides with his attaining Nirvana (enlightenment). Mansarovar is the venue of this festival.
City-based Somnath Sarma today met the State Chief Secretary with the plea that the Government of Assam initiate a subsidy scheme for the benefit of the intending pilgrims to undertake Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage. He told this newspaper that Chief Secretary Alok Kumar showed a positive attitude and promised steps for the benefit of the intending pilgrims.