Hindu devotees, who have travelled to Kailash Mansarovar on a holy pilgrimage, have alleged that Chinese authorities are not allowing them to take a dip in the Mansarovar lake. This comes less than a month after a stand-off between India and China over access through Nathu La pass for the yatra.
On May 8, Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had announced that Nathu La pass was opened after India took up the issue with Chinese authorities.
Addressing mediapersons at a press conference, Sushma Swaraj had said, “I had told Chinese Foreign Ministry that relations between governments cannot prosper until people-to-people relations are improved when Nathu La pass was closed during last Yatra it came as a blow to people. I am happy to announce that it has now been opened for Yatra.”
Swaraj, who was in China for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)’s Foreign Ministers’ meet, had said that her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi had agreed to allow Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, which was stopped by Beijing after the 72-day-long Doklam standoff.
The tour is organised by the MEA each year between June and September in cooperation with the government of People’s Republic of China through two different routes – Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand) and Nathu La Pass (Sikkim).
The Nathu La route was opened to Indian pilgrims in 2015. After crossing over the Nathu La pass, Indian pilgrims are ferried by Chinese transport to Kailash.
The route through the Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand), which involves some trekking, is done at an estimated cost of about Rs 1.6 lakh per person. The duration of the yatra is 24 days for each batch, including three days in Delhi, for preparatory work. This route passes through important sites like Narayan Ashram and Patal Bhuvaneshwar.
The pilgrims can also see the scenic beauty of Chialekh Valley, or the ‘Om Parvat’ which has the natural occurrence of snow in the shape of ‘Om’ on this mountain.
The route through the Nathu La Pass (Sikkim) is motorable and suitable for senior citizens unable to undertake arduous trekking.
From Gangtok, the route passes through scenic places like the Hangu lake, and through the vast landscape of the Tibetan plateau. It is estimated to cost about Rs 2 lakh per person, and duration would be 21 days, including three days in Delhi, for preparatory work.