Himalayan pass opened to help Indian Buddhist pilgrims travel to Tibet

GlobalTimes zoom in +

Nathu La Pass in the southeastern Himalayas will be opened in late June to Indian pilgrims traveling to China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Nathu La Pass lies between Yadong county in Tibet's Xigaze Prefecture and India's Sikkim State.

The pass, about 4,500 meters above sea level, is a historic trade route between the two countries but was closed for 44 years after the Sino-Indian border conflict in 1962 and was reopened in 2006 for trade purposes only.

China has decided to open the route to Indian citizens to facilitate their travel to Tibet and further promote exchanges between the two countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping said while visiting India in September 2014, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Nathu La Pass is the shortest land route connecting China and India.

In past years, Indian pilgrims traveling by land entered Tibet through Burang county in Ngari Prefecture.

Indian Buddhists have made pilgrimages to Tibet every year since 1982. In 1990, China and India agreed that 16 batches of Indian pilgrims, with 40 to 50 people in each batch, would be allowed to travel to Tibet between June and September every year, Xinhua reported.

The holy mountain of Kangrinboqe and Lake Manasarovar in Ngari are sacred places that devout Indian Buddhists visit every year.

According to the foreign affairs office in Ngari, over 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) has been spent on improving the infrastructure of pilgrimage sites in the area in recent years. In 2012, the prefecture received over 13,000 foreign pilgrims, China Radio International reported in July 2013.