Nathula Pass opens after 50 years for Kailash Mansarovar Yaatra
[bdnews24.com] TRIPURA, Jun 18: The first batch of pilgrims is undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar Yaatra through the Nathula Pass in 50 years.
Sikkim Governor Shrinivas Patil and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling flagged off the journey on Thursday.
The alternative route to Kailash Mansarovar, a Hindu pilgrimage site in the Himalayas, has been opened half a century after China had closed the Nathu La Pass on the Sikkim-Tibet border.
Forty pilgrims, including two women and five support staff, are undertaking the journey.
Thursday’s ceremony started with the governor and the chief minister offering prayers and lighting butter lamps for the safety and success of the pilgrims at a function at Ridge Park in Sikkim’s capital Gangtok.
The two leaders also released commemorative special postal cover to mark the event.
Governor Patil recalled how the state and its officials had worked tirelessly to arrange the best possible facilities for the pilgrims.
He asked the pilgrims to enjoy the beauty of the state and its various tourist destinations after coming back from the ‘yatra’.
Shideshwar Dham, Buddha Park and the Samduptse are some Sikkim’s top tourist attractions.
Pawan Chamling, who also addressed the gathering, gave credit to the present NDA government at the Centre, and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the opening of this route.
He spoke about various pilgrim and tourist destinations in the state and urged the participants to enjoy them on their way back.
The pilgrims expressed their happiness at being the first batch to undertake the journey through this new route.
On June 16, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had flagged off the first batch of pilgrims from New Delhi.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his visit to India last September, had announced the opening of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China through the Nathula pass.
The new route through Nathula, about 4,000 meters above sea level, will ensure more comfortable travel, especially for the elderly by buses compared to the existing route via the Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand, officials say.
The opening of this route is also an important milestone in diplomatic relations between India and China, they say.