mount kailash
mount kailashReuters

The online application process for the annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra has started, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Wednesday. The journey will take place between June 12 and Sep. 9, 2016. 

Pilgrims take up the journey to Mt. Kailash, which stands at 22,000 feet, and the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet every year as the mountain is considered the abode of Hindu god Shiva. The mountain is part of transhimalayan Tibet. Circumambulating the mountain peak, which takes around three days, and a dip of the sacred lake are part of the pilgrimage. The mountain is mythologically significant for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bon. 

Those who want to take up the pilgrimage need to have a valid passport as the journey takes people into China. 

Pilgrims can take the journey with the Indian government or private tour organisers. 

The government takes up two routes, one by Uttarakhand and the other through Sikkim. The first route costs Rs. 1.6 lakh and takes 25 days. As many as 18 batches of 60 people each will be taken on this route, which goes through the Lipulekh Pass. The first route requires pilgrims to trek for around 200 km. The second route through the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim costs Rs 2 lakh and takes 23 days. A total of 7 batches of 50 people each will be taken through this route, the MEA statement said. 

The second route, through the Nathu La Pass, was started in 2015 after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj requested the Chinese government to let Indian pilgrims use this route. The new route eases the journey as buses can traverse on it. 

Elderly people will get preference for the second route.

People between 18 years and 70 years, as of Jan. 1, are allowed on this pilgrimage.

The last date to apply for the pilgrimage with the Indian government is April 15, 2016. You can apply for the journey here. For a Hindi version of the application, click here