Rendezvous with Sāgarmāthā (Everest)


Just returned from a 19-day Kailash-Manasarovar Tirth Yatra (pilgrimage).

We flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, got pinned in the midst of a mob-military firefight at the Nepal-Tibet border, and dashed across the Tibetan plateau. Here land cruisers go off-road, over hills, down valleys, through swollen streams, and over crumbling embankments. Five days later when we reached Manasarovar – the highest fresh water lake at an altitude of 15,000 ft, I was blabbering sick. High fever, body aches, and the ubiquitous high altitude-associated symptoms: chest ripping cough, persistent headaches, nausea and blurry vision. Throw in an asthma attack for good measure. And we were only getting started.

Loaded on medications, I hiked the 54 km parikrama around Mount Kailash, over three days. We climbed up to an altitude of 19,200 ft, where every two steps forward would leave me gasping for precious oxygen. We slept in tents at over 17,000 ft, where taking off my shoes required a 5 min recovery; and rains and bone chilling winds our constant companions. The return trip was equally treacherous. Did I mention, we did not shower after leaving Kathmandu, till we returned back.

On returning to Mumbai I lay sick at home. After two days of aiee’s ministrations I barely made my flight back to Boston. When airport security confiscated my toothpaste, hand lotion, lip balm and perfume at the airport, I was unfazed and casually planned on spending another day without these luxuries. It feels good to be home, in my bed and my bathroom.

It was the most exhausting and physically trying adventure ever. I’d rather do a few more marathons – including training in sub-freezing weather. Thankfully, this is once in a lifetime yatra. But wait till you see mind-boggling vistas I captured. Frankly, I’d want to go again.

Rendezvous with Sāgarmāthā (Everest):
In Kathmandu, we stayed at the palatial Shankar Palace Hotel and did a bit of sightseeing. The first morning, we took a Buddha Air flight to see the Everest Mountain Range. Here are a few pics taken from the window of the Beechcraft jet flying at ~ 25,000 ft.

En route to Sāgarmāthā, we pass Gauri-Shankar (7,134 m; 23,405 ft) resembling the traditional seated Shiva Parvati form.
pics of Gauri Shankar Mount Everest by Arun Shanbhag

The southern view of Sāgarmāthā (Everest) on the right. The ridge-like “Nuptse” and “Lohtse” peaks seemingly spread a protective cloak in front of Sāgarmāthā.
pics of Sagarmatha Mount Everest by Arun Shanbhag

From the cockpit: As we reached Sāgarmāthā, the pilot banked sharply left and started the return trip. During this maneuver, we were only a few miles off Sāgarmāthā, the closest I’d get to the tallest peak on earth.

pics of Sagarmatha Mount Everest by Arun Shanbhag

Next on the Kailash Manasarovar Travelogue:
Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

37 thoughts on “Rendezvous with Sāgarmāthā (Everest)

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  1. I am very pleased to read your detailed travelogue on Kailash parikrama. I have recently returned from Vaishno Devi Yatra which we completed in twelve hours without much difficulty. We are planning Kailash Yatra next July and would be happy if you can suggest as to how to prepare for this Yatra.

    1. I also understand that now a days this Yatra is conducted via Nepalgunj by flights. Do you have any information in this respect?
      Thanks again

  2. Arun I read your yatra to Kailash with great interest as imam going myself in 2,months I.e. In May 2014. Things may have changed a bit there but your insight has helped me to understand what to expect. Thanks you. Hiru London 59yrs

  3. Hello Arun,
    My name is Gurunath Bharne, a resident of Holland and 57 years of age.
    In recent years, I have managed to complete a few pilgrimages in India, viz. Girnar, BadriKedar, Vaishnodevi and Kumbh Mela. Nothing nearly as arduous as Kailsh-Mansarovar; and that is next on the list for 2011. Read with great interest your personal account. Would be delighted to be able to talk with you, if you would care to provide me your tel. no. My email address is Thanks.

    1. Hi Gurunath:
      Congratulations on completing so many of the fabled yatras – you are fortunate.

      Yes, this was a particularly difficult yatra, and in hindsight, despite ALL the issues, it was absolutely worth it.

      You can email me at arunshanbhag At gmail
      we can discuss further.

      Best Wishes

  4. Dear Arun,

    Greetings !

    I am Shiv from Singapore, and I was pleased to chance upon your blogspot and go through the section on Kailash Mansarovar.

    Like you, I am a keen spiritual aspirant and also a frequent visitor to several of our holy pilrimages in India. In my travels over past 15 years, I have so far been twice to Char Dham Yatra (and also trekked to Gomukh), and of course I been to several other pilgrimages in India as well.

    Next year, with Lord’s Shiva’s blessings, I am planning to go for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. So I wanted to touch base with you and seek some inputs from you. Please let me know how can I contact you by Email or Phone.

    My Contact details are as follows:-

    EMail – (edited)
    Skype / GTalk ID – (edited)

    Looking forward to hear back from you soon,


    1. Thank you Mr Shiv Kumar:
      I just sent you an email.

      It is impressive that you have already visited Char Dham; That is one of my next trips and looking forward to it.

      And wishing you the best with your Kailash Manasarovar Planning. it is a difficult trip, but certainly worth it!

      Go for it!

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