Gangtok, 01 Jun:
The fourth session of the Kailash Mansarovar 2018 pilgrimage will begin from 11 Jun, next week. The first batch is expected to cross the border via Nathula as early as the summer of 2018.
Tourism Secretary, CP Dhakal, informed SummitTimes that the 10th batch of pilgrims will go to Kailash Mansarovar in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China via Nathula this time and each batch will consist of 50 people including medical and other support staff.
“The Kailash Mansarovar via Nathula has a budget of Rs 2.30 lakh,” informed a Tourism Department official here in Gangtok.
Last session of the pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar could not take place due to the Indo-China border conflict at Doklam, just 13 KMS away from Nathula and some 65 KMS away from the State capital.
India and China, it may be recalled, had signed a bilateral agreement on the Nathula alternative route in September 2014. The MoU provides for conducting the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nathula in addition to the existing Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand.
As per a Tourism official, the pilgrims will be required to halt for at least for two days in Gangtok and then proceed to 17th Mile and Sherathang for further acclimatization before they proceed to the thinner air of the Tibetan plateau beyond Nathula. The alternative route from Nathula will reportedly proceed through Shigatse in TAR and then move on to Kailash Mansarovar.
The Nathula route is considered a comparatively easier route to the ones currently being used from Uttrakhand and Nepal and both involve heavy-trekking through grueling terrain at altitudes up to 19,500 feet. The new route will allow pilgrims to be driven all along, travelling first from Gangtok in Sikkim to Shigatse in Tibet from where they can take vans and buses on the existing road to Mansarovar and Kailash directly.
The tour is monitored by the Sikkim Tourism Development Cooperation to Nathula-Kailash Mansarovar Yatra on G2G [Government-to-Government] basis, coordinating their travel and return to India upto Gangtok.
While the Nepal route takes 10 days, the arduous trekking option via Uttarakhand takes 27 days. The Nathula option, as per projections, will take only 8 days to complete the yatra. While the Nathula route is usually open from March to November, the Lipulekh route is only open for four months in a year from June to September. Also, there is a limit on the number of pilgrims allowed to take the Lipulekh route every year.