Indian pilgrims finish journey to Tibet

2015-08-21 09:37:00 | From:

The last batch of 51 Indian pilgrims left Tibet using the recently opened Nathu La Pass on Thursday morning, marking the end of this year's pilgrimage.

The newly opened mountain pass links India's Sikkim State to the sacred Mount Kangriboqe and Mapam Yumco Lake in Ngari Prefecture, Tibet.

China has allowed Indian pilgrims to use the Nathu La Pass since June 22. The first group of 43 pilgrims returned to India on July 3 after their journey.

A total of 240 indian pilgrims entered Tibet through Nathu La Pass this year, said Li Wenbin, who works for the frontier inspection station.

Ravinder Kumar Sharma, from New Delhi, who was among the last batch, said," [I]finally saw the sacred mountain and lake and I've fulfilled my dream. I thank China's warm welcome and reception."

Chinese authorities have built shelters at four resting points, which provided welcome breaking points for the pilgrims as they adapted to the high altitude. The Nathu La Pass sits 4,545 meters above sea level.

The government also set up a reception center by Mapam Yumco Lake where a kitchen, bathroom, blankets and souvenirs are provided. A four-star hotel has been opened at the foot of Mount Kangrinboqe.

The opening of the pass will promote people-to-people exchanges and improve ties between China and India, said Le Yucheng, Chinese ambassador to India, who completed the journey with the first group of pilgrims.

The new route shortens the pilgrimage from more than 20 days to about eight to 12 days.

Pilgrims to Ngari Prefecture traditionally climb over the Qang La Pass, which sits 5,200 meters above sea level on the China-India-Nepal border. The road is steep and usually covered by snow.

According to Indian media, around 250 Indians, in five groups of 50, will travel to Tibet along the new route this year. Another 18 groups of 60 will undertake the pilgrimage along the old route.

Completely closed for more than 40 years, it was reopened in 2006, but for trade only.

The Chinese government first allowed Indians to make pilgrimages to Tibet in 1981. China has welcomed almost 80,000 Indian pilgrims in the past decade alone.

China and India have been strengthening their relationship lately. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China in May, following Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to New Delhi last year.

                                                                                                                                                 Editor: Lily Li

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