New Delhi, May 7 : The Government on Wednesday rebutted a news report in the Asian Age that quoted "informed sources" as stating that the annual Kailash - Manasarovar Yatra may not take place this year because the Chinese Government has allegedly refused to grant visas to pilgrims.
A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said: "The Kailash - Manasarovar Yatra that is conducted each year by the Government of India will commence as scheduled on 1 June 2008. Government has begun preparations for this year's Yatra along with the Government of the People's Republic of China.
The duration of the Yatra is 26 days. In addition, pilgrims are expected to spend four days in New Delhi to obtain visas, undergo a comprehensive medical examination and complete other formalities.
This year, 16 batches each consisting of a maximum of 60 pilgrims will take part in the Yatra. The first batch is expected to depart from New Delhi in the last week of May/first week of June and pilgrimages continue till the end of September 2008.
The holy Mount Kailash is situated in the western Tibetan plateau in the northernmost region of the Himalayas. Also referred to as Mount Meru and Kang Rinpoche, or snow jewel, Mount Kailash is a 22,028 ft high peak known for being the abode of Shiva. Hindus perform a 'parikrama' or walk around the 32-mile circumference of Mount Kailash, an act that is believed to wipe away all sins. Four holy rivers originate from Mount Kailash: the Indus, the Brahamputra, the Karnali and the Sutlej.
Located 18 miles southeast of Mount Kailash, the circular Lake Mansarovar, also known as Tso Rinpoche or 'precious lake' in Tibetan is also a famous pilgrimage spot. Bathing in the freezing cold water of the lake which is said to contain miraculous powers is considered to be of massive spiritual benefit.
The pilgrimage or 'Yatra' is open to all Indian citizens above18 years of age who wish to proceed to Kailash and Manasarovar for religious purposes.