(TibetanReview.net, Jun23, 2015) – China on Jun 22 opened a new, more convenient route from occupied Tibet’s Dromo County for Indian pilgrims travelling to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar in western Tibet’s Ngari Prefecture. Fifty pilgrims started their 12-day journey through the newly opened Nathu-La pass, which is a border point between Chinese ruled Tibet and the Indian state of Sikkim.
The launch ceremony was held at Nathu-La pass in Tibet’s Dromo County and officials from both China and India were present along with the pilgrims, reported China’s official chinadaily.com.cn Jun 22.
“This event is a practical action of implementing the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and an important measure of further deepening the traditional friendly China-India friendship,” Dong Mingjun, the vice-chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, was quoted as saying.
The report cited China’s Ambassador in India Le Yucheng as saying China-India ties were one of the most essential relations. “Since President Xi Jinping announced the new route to Kailash Manasarovar through Nathu-La pass for Indian pilgrims in September, China and India have been working in close consultation,” he was quoted as saying.
He has said the new route is more comfortable, more convenient and much safer than the old ones.
China closed the Nathu-La pass following the Sino-India border war of 1962.
Before China occupied and annexed Tibet in 1959, Indians freely undertook the Kailash-Manasarovar pilgrimage, including from the closest and the most convenient border crossing at Demchok in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir.
While the Demchok route still remains closed due to China’s intransigence, the Nathu-La route is certainly more convenient especially for the elderly. It will facilitate more comfortable travel by bus, compared to the long and dangerous trekking on the existing route via Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand state which is prone to flood and landslide. The new route will involve little trekking, said India’s PTI news agency Jun 22.
The report added that the first group of pilgrims will complete the Manasarovar Parikrama (circumambulation) on Jun 27 and Kailash Parikrama at 16,600 feet above sea level on Jun 28 before returning on Jul 3