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Transcript of External Affairs Minister’s address at the flagging off event for the first batch of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2019

June 11, 2019

Namaskar. Mujhe aapka Videsh Mantralay mein swagat karne par bahut prasannta ho rahi hai. Aaj hum Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2019 ki shuruaat kar rahe hain. Ye yatra Videsh Mantralay dwara ayojit ek bahut hi mahatvapoorn ayojan hai.

(I am extremely delighted to welcome you in the Ministry of External Affairs. Today we are starting the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. This yatra is a very important event organized by Ministry of External Affairs.)

The Ministry of External Affairs feels very privileged to be part of this initiative for facilitating the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. This has been a yatra which has started in recent times from 1981, and over the years the interest in this pilgrimage has increased very significantly.

I would like to share with you a personal experience which I myself had in 2012. I had the privilege of visiting Mt. Kailash not in the way in which you are all going to do, through Lipulekh and Nathu-La. I actually was Ambassador in China at that time and I went from Lhasa. In many ways my journey was very much easier than what all of you are going to do. But I want to just tell you something that whatever is in your mind about what you will see, the biggest things in your imagination, when you actually reach there what you will see is something far-far beyond anything you can imagine.

If I were to look back and think of all the moments of my life which I will really remember. For me, seeing Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar would be one of them. So you are at the juncture of something very special, very holy in your life and no words that I can say, you have to see, you have to be there and see it to experience it.

Having said that I want to share with you what has been the Ministry’s contribution to this pilgrimage. We started in 1981 in with very small batches. It was a much more difficult trek at that time. Today 18 batches of 60 yatris each perform this yatra along the old Lipulekh route which all of you are going to take and 10 batches of 48 yatris will do it along the Nathu-La route which opened in 2015.

This year we received almost 3000 completed applications for the yatra and this is, I think, something which makes me very happy. It shows that more and more people in this country want to go to Mt. Kailash and I think that in itself is something which gives us great satisfaction.

What we have done recently is that fully motor-able Nathula road has been opened for the yatra. So lot of the elderly people, people who are not able to do what you will all be doing, they will find a much easier route to also go to Mt. Kailash.

We have also decided to include to Liaison Officers per batch to assist the yatris more effectively and as part of our efforts to improve the yatra experience we have decided to include Liaison Officers who have been there before because it is not an easy yatra, I think this is something all of you know and I think to have experienced people with you will be very-very useful.

The yatra is considered one of the most difficult pilgrimages in the world but I am sure that you all know that it passes through what is both difficult territory but also beautiful territory. And while we will obviously try to make this as smooth an experience as possible I think your cooperation and your understanding during the yatra is also important.

The Liaison Officers and the government authorities involved in the conduct of the yatra have been asked to accord the highest priority to the safety and security of the yatris. It is important that you all diligently follow the safety advice, I really stress this that you must follow the safety advice and instructions of the Liaison Officers so that there is no personal safety issues which arises for any of the yatris.

The yatris, not just you, but I think the subsequent batches also. You are all from different parts of India, so I think this is also perhaps right for me to mention that you are all collectively embarked on a yatra, you must be together as a very cohesive group and particularly because there are challenging conditions. So I think your internal solidarity, how you bond with each other, I think that is also something I would emphasize very strongly.

Let me take this opportunity to record our appreciation for the support and cooperation we have received from many other ministries and agencies of the Government of India and particularly for the State Governments of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Delhi in the successful organization of this yatra.

I would also like to recognize the support extended by the government of the People’s Republic of China in organizing the yatra which is an important step towards promoting people to people exchanges and strengthening friendship and understanding between our two countries.

All those who have been selected for the yatra are really blessed to be participating in this divine expedition. It is a call from Lord Shiva and this privilege of divine blessing has been accorded to you. We wish you a very safe journey and a truly fulfilling spiritual experience. With these words I announce the commencement of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2019.

Thank you very much.

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