The first batch of Hindu devotees left New Delhi on Tuesday for the annual Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage. The batch of pilgrims comprised of 50 devotees. “According to our holy books, pilgrimage of Kailash-Mansarovar is one of the major pilgrimages of the Hindus. It is an effort to the end the cycle of life and death,” said Bharat Pathak, a pilgrim.

The arrangements for the pilgrims have been improved this year, with more variety of food and extra accommodation facilities.

“We are taking care of all the facilities like food and accommodation for the pilgrims so that they don’t face any inconveniences. This year we have increased the arrangements by adding two more huts and 16 more beds. We have also arranged for South Indian dishes for the pilgrims’ taste buds,” said Surinder Singh Jeena, President, Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam.

“We have even introduced food and beverages of Uttarakhand to make the pilgrims familiar with the state’s culture. We are trying our best so that the pilgrims don’t face any problems on their way,” he added.

The pilgrimage route is prone to hazards like earthquakes and landslides.

In 1998 about 300 people died due to landslides in Malpa region of the Garhwal Hills.

The Kailash-Mansarovar route has been an ancient trade route between India and China.

Hindus from India used to undertake the pilgrimage until it was halted in 1962 when India and China fought a war. The pilgrimage was resumed in 1981 after relations between the two countries improved.