New Kailash route to be opened in Tibet on Monday
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A first batch of 40 Indian pilgrims will arrive in this border town in Tibet on Monday morning, flagging off the launching of a new route for the Kailash Mansarovar yatra that will for the first time enable the elderly to undertake the arduous journey.
The route, through Nathu La pass in Sikkim which borders Yadong county, will take a total of 23 days per batch, two days shorter than the current route. Unlike the existing route through Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand which requires some segments of trekking, the road from Yadong is entirely paved, enabling travel on buses.
“We attach great importance to opening this new route which reflects our intention to boost exchanges with India,” Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng told reporters.
Yadong is a small border town in Tibet, eight hours’ drive from Lhasa, through which most of the land trade between India and China, through Nathu La, passes. While Tibet – and border areas in particular – are usually out of bounds for journalists, the Tibet Autonomous Region government allowed Indian journalists to travel to Yadong on the occasion of the opening of the route.
Around 250 pilgrims, in five batches of 50, will travel to Kailash through the new route. Forty pilgrims will arrive in Yadong on Monday, with 10 others dropping out for health reasons, Le said. Another 18 patches of 60 pilgrims will undertake the pilgrimage on the earlier route.
The opening of the route, Le said, also suggested that the paltry border trade through Nathu La could be improved.
“We can have lunch in Gangtok and dinner in Yadong,” he said, pointing out that it only took him three and a half hours to reach Yadong from Gangtok. Currently, only 15 items are open for trade, which could be expanded to 30, Le said.
Among local Chinese traders in Yadong, a common complaint is movement across the border is restricted, with travel passes only issued to Yadong residents although many of the traders here are from different cities in China.
Ananth Krishnan Yadong (Tibet), IT