Saturday, February 7, 2015

STDC to manage Kailash Mansarovar luxury Yatra through Nathula

With India and China having exchanged notes on modalities for opening Nathula as a second route for pilgrims undertaking the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra, the state nodal department, Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, has handed over the responsibilities for the entire management and coordination with Ministry of External Affairs for pilgrims to Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation [STDC]. The Yatra through Sikkim is scheduled to begin from June. This is the first luxury route to Kailash Mansarovar from India and pilgrims, after crossing over from Nathula, will travel on to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet, from where they will take the Kailash-Mansarovar highway. Thus far, from India, the only route to Kailash involved an arduous and dangerous trek through Uttarakhand. The only vehicular travel option was via Nepal.
The new motorable route through Nathula is scheduled to accommodate around 250 pilgrims this season. They will proceed in batches of 50 each. These 250 are in addition to the usual quota of 900 pilgrims allowed from Uttarakhand.
Although the Chinese government has assured all facilities for the travelling pilgrims, the pilgrimage is not for the fainthearted and infrastructure along the highway in Tibetan Autonomous Region is rudimentary at best.
Tourism Special Secretary Sarala Rai, who undertook the Yatra via Kathmandu and onwards to Lhasa and Kailash Mansarovar in 2011, attests that travel even in luxury vehicles is difficult.
Medical facilities are few and far between along the route and sanitation is another area of concern along the route in TAR, she informs. Getting porters or other resources during pilgrimage is also difficult, it is informed.
As things stand, Sikkim does not have enough experienced porters to escort pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar. The circumambulation [parikrama] at Kailash-Mansarovar also comes with its own set of challenges given the difficult terrain and extreme weather. The parikrama reportedly take three days and two nights, with the second day involving a difficult traverse of the Dolma La. Pilgrims have the option of taking yaks or ponies on this leg, but these come at a high premium.
But then, no one said that the pilgrimage would be an easy one, and what the Nathula option offers is a safer, more comfortable travel up to Kailash-Mansarovar. This will be the first season of the travel, and with some coordination and proactive problem-solving, Sikkim could benefit from it in more respects than just handling the pilgrims while they are in Sikkim.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Readers are invited to comment on, criticise, run down, even appreciate if they like something in this blog. Comments carrying abusive/ indecorous language and personal attacks, except when against the people working on this blog, will be deleted. It will be exciting for all to enjoy some earnest debates on this blog...