Swaraj flags off Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims via Nathu La

Weeks after China agreed to an additional route for Kailash Mansarovar, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has flagged off the first batch of pilgrims from the Nathu La pass. She pointed out that with the opening of the new route, the elderly people will also be able to go on this arduous pilgrimage and have a glimpse of Lord Shiva without any difficulties.

The minister said that people-to-people contact played an important role, especially in religious tourism (Kailash Mansarovar). Those who are travelling to Kailash Mansarovar will surely be thanking the Chinese government for making the tour possible.

Ms Swaraj congratulated the pilgrims and said, “I wish you very best for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Travel safely and comfortably complete your yatra. We will make sure that the old people will also be able to take sight of Lord Shiva without facing problems.”

The opening of the new route through Nathu La pass this year will enable the pilgrims to drive all along. They can now travel first from Gangtok to Shigatse in Tibet, and from there they can take vans and buses on the existing route to Mansarovar and Kailash directly.

Two hundred fifty pilgrims would travel via the Nathu La route, in batches of 50 each. Other eighteen batches of 60 people each would travel through the previous route via the Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand.

In the Hindu religion, Kailash Mansarovar is revered as a sacred place where Hindu god Shiva sits in a state of meditation. Pilgrims have to travel at high altitudes of 19,500 feet to reach the abode.

A limited number of people go on the pilgrimage every year, a part of the journey overseen by Indian and Chinese authorities. This year, the pilgrimage will be conducted between June 8 and September 9.

India and China had signed a bilateral agreement during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Delhi in September 2014 for the opening of the alternative Nathu La route for the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage.

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