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Ground Breaking Mission for Yatris To Kailash Mansarovar

Ground Breaking Mission for Yatris To Kailash Mansarovar
July 09
13:15 2015

Nathula Pass much safer for Yatris than route via Qiangla Pass 

Visit to Kailash Mansarovar Will Inject +ve Energy into India China Relations

China Ambassador to India, Mr  Le Yucheng

China Ambassador to India, Mr Le Yucheng

By Le Yucheng​, China’s, Ambassador to India

( DiplomacyIndia.com is pleased and feels privileged to bring to its readers exclusively a first person account of the experiences of the visit of the Chinese Ambassador in India to Kailash Mansarovar  – Editor).

I am happy to learn that the first batch of Yatris will soon be back home from Kailash Manasarover Yatra. At this moment, I can’t help recalling my extraordinary experience in the past days as I attended the inauguration of the new pilgrimage route via Nathula Pass and went through the remarkable “sky path”, paving the ground for the first batch of the Yatris.

Based on the consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their summit in India, the Chinese side committed to opening a new pilgrimage route of Kailash Manasarover Yatra via Nathula Pass. With the agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and Ministry of External Affairs of India, the first batch of Yatris would enter China via Nathua Pass and leave for Kailash Manasarover on June 22nd. It is not only a big event for the Yatris, but also a milestone in China-India relations.

As Chinese Ambassador to India, I took it as a top priority and kept thinking about the ground situation for months. How is the new route? How about the road condition? Will the accommodation facilities along the route be good enough? With these questions in mind, I took the journey to Kailash Manasarover through Nathula Pass both to be part of the history and to pave the way for the Yatris.

I flew to Baddogra of West Bangaldesh from New Delhi, and reached Gantok of Sikkim after three hours on road, along the same route as the Yatris traveled. In the following day, Mr. Pawan Chamlin, Honorable Chief Minister of Sikkim, kindly met with me and my colleagues. Both of us were glad to know of the opening of the new route, and figured that it would provide a new opportunity for Sikkim to expand cooperation with China in such areas as border trade, tourism and so on so forth.

It was reported by the local media that the State Government of Sikkim had held a grand flag-off ceremony for the first batch of Yatris when they stopped over Sikkim, when a special commemorative postal cover was issued and a commemorative sapling planted. Posters about the new pilgrimage route could be seen almost everywhere in Sikkim, attesting to the great importance the State Government of Sikkim attaches to the Yatra.

Bidding farewell to the Chief Minister in Gantok, I continued my journey to Nathula Pass. The 54km road from Gantok to Nathula Pass is hilly upwards in dense fog and frequently visited by sudden storms, which made the journey even more risky. Escorted by the local police, we still spent nearly four hours in reaching Nathula Pass with an altitude of 4500 meters. On the way, I stopped a short while in Sherathang and met with the Yatris who had already got there.

I could feel the expectation and read the excitement from their smiling faces. At 10am on the following day, the Chinese side held a grand welcoming ceremony for the first batch of Yatris. On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the Chinese Embassy in India, I extended my warm welcome and sincere wishes for them to have a pleasant journey and happy life with the blessing of Kailash Manasarover. Indian Ambassador to China Ashok Kanth in his written message expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese side for making great efforts to open the new route and his sincere wishes for the Yatris.

The Chinese Embassy in India tailored a pilgrimage gift bag for each Yatri which included dawn coats, hats and blankets, among other items. With the gifts and blessing, the Yatris went on their journey to the pilgrimage sites of Kailash Manasarover in delight and appreciation.

Nathula Pass is one of the important passes in the border area between China and India, through which the border trade marts were reopened in 2006. The opening of this new route via Nathula was well acclaimed by the Indian side. Compared with previous Yatra route via Qiangla Pass, this route is more comfortable, more convenient and much safer.

The Yatris need not trek long over the rugged terrains and risk their lives anymore. Instead, they just embark on air conditioned buses and reach Kailash Manasarover enjoying the heavenly beauty. These modalities particularly count for the elderly Yatris.

After the welcoming ceremony, I took the road right away to Kailash Manasarover to check the accommodation facilities catering to the Yatris. It spans 2000km from Nathula Pass to Kailash Manasarover, but it only takes approximately 2 or 3 days to the holy land,  thanks mainly to the good road condition. The new route is all along the two-way asphalt roads on which vehicles can run at speeds touching 120km per hour without worrying about traffic.

The Chinese side built four stay points in case the Yatris need to be acclamatised. I particularly noticed that many makeshift toilets were built, simple but readily available. Other newly-built facilities were all clean and comfortable. The service persons were zealous, considerate and responsive. On June 24th, two days before the arrival of the Yatris, I was eventually exposed to the long-aspirated Kailash Manasarover. Deeply impressed by the breathtaking serenity of Manasarover and the loftiness of Kailash, we were intoxicated and totally indulged.

Right on that moment, I came to a profound understanding about the supremacy and uniqueness of Kailash Manasarover in the mind of Hindus. To quote the words from my good friend Mr. Tarun Vijay, a member of Rajya Sabha of India, life would be far from meaningful without one such Yatra.

Inside the Yatris reception center by Manasarover, I saw a row of rooms with fantastic lake view, through whose windows one could have a panoramic picture of the extraordinary charm of Kailash Manasarover. There are 4 to 5 beds in each room, on which are put brand new blankets, bedclothes, sheets and souvenirs to mark the unprecedented journey.

Security is arranged around the clock within the compound. Its newly-renovated kitchen and washrooms are spacious and clean. At the foot of Kailash, a new four-star hotel has been built, where staff members were awaiting the Yatris in anticipation. There I encountered the advance team from the Indian Embassy in China for the Yatra. The diplomats were deeply impressed by the first class facilities and service of that hotel.

The journey I traveled covers 2000km and 11 administrative regions in Tibet from Nathula Pass to Kailash Manasarover. With the altitude scaling  from 2000 meters to 4800 meters, I was seized with altitude sickness including hypoxia, headache and insomnia. But it was all worthwhile when I thought of the Yatris who could indulge themselves in the majesty of Kailash Manasarover and have their dream of life accomplished.

In the days and years to come, as more Indian Yatris come to Kailash Manasarover, they will not only get spiritually enriched but also strongly committed to strengthening the bonds between our two peoples. This will surely consolidate the social foundation and inject immense positive energy into China-India relations. In this sense, I believe that the opening of the new route through Nathula Pass will go down in history as another milestone in the people-to-people exchanges and friendship between our two countries.

(Editing by TN Ashok, Diplomatic Editor at DiplomacyIndia.com) 

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