Nathu La means mountain pass with listening ears was closed after 1962 war and this route is more comfortable for pilgrims
GN Bureau | June 22, 2015
Another door has opened to China and it has people connect. After over half-a-century of closure as consequence of the 1962 Sino-India war, Nathu La pass opened on Monday for the first batch of Indian pilgrims on Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng received the pilgrims in Tibet.
Yucheng received 39 Indian pilgrims, besides BJP MP Tarun Vijay and his wife in the morning. This batch will complete Manasarovar Parikrama (circumambulation) on June 27 and 'Kailash Parikrama', 16,600 feet above sea level, on June 28 before returning to the Indian side on July 3.
The new route through the Himalayan pass will facilitate more comfortable travel for the Indian pilgrims, especially the elderly, by buses compared to the existing route via Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand. The journey will be mainly covered through bus with only a little of trekking.
Nathu La, which means "Mountain pass with listening ears", was closed after 1962 war. The area had witnessed week-long skirmishes between the Indian and Chinese Army. After remaining closed for all activities, the pass was opened as a trading junction in 2006. Traders from both sides gathered in the No-Man's Land and sold their items, mostly goat and sheep skin, raw silk, china clay, butter, common salt, cycles, tea and cigarette.
Kailash Mansarovar is believed to be the seat of Hindu god Shiva. Pilgrims have to travel to high altitudes through inhospitable and rugged terrain. Hundreds go on the pilgrimage every year, with a part of the journey overseen by Chinese authorities.
Meanwhile, first batch of 58 Indian pilgrims undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar yatra on Saturday crossed over to the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China through Lipulekh pass, situated at 17,500 feet on the existing route.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jawans helped the pilgrims at Nabhidhank camp, where they reached last evening after spending two days at Gunji camp.
The pilgrims crossed over to Chinese territory early in the morning as roads become slippery due to melting of snow after temperature increases after sun rises.
During their stay, they will perform 'Parikrama' (circumambulation) of holy mountain, Kailash and take a dip in holy lake, Mansarovar.
According to ITBP sources, the second batch of pilgrims has reached Bundi camp. "The second batch of 54 pilgrims will reach Gunji camp tomorrow on the occasion of International Yoga Day (IYD). They will also participate in performing yoga with ITBP jawans at 10,370 feet high to mark the IYD in the country," said ITBP officers.
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