Pilgrimage To Kailash- Mansarovar Made Easier, With The Advent Of A New Road
Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar has been made easier, as the Government of India recently inaugurated a link road that will take people to Kailash-Mansarovar, with much ease. The 80 km long tarmac road, built by the Border Roads Organisation, will shorten the journey by nearly 80% of what it used to be before. The road bridges Dharchula in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh District to Lipulekh Pass on India’s border with the Tibet Autonomous Region in China.
Mt. Kailash or Gang Rinpoche, at an elevation of 6638 metres, has been of utmost religious significance for Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and also for followers of Bon, a Tibetan religion. The sacred peak is made more serene and divine by Lake Mansarovar, a freshwater body and Lake Rakshastal. According to beliefs, a sip of water from the holy Mansarovar will sanctify us of all sins. Every year, thousands of pilgrimages make it to the holy destination, as it is believed that walking around the mountain on foot will bring good fortune. Since time immemorial, pilgrims have made it to the holy place on foot and horseback.
A new route that is much shorter is indeed a joy to pilgrims as they now need to travel only a fifth of the previous distance to get to the sacred mountain. The road will be open for public use from June 2020 onwards.
Prior to the construction of the road, the only routes open for public use were Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand and Sikkim’s NathuLa Pass. Those who opted for the Lipulekh Pass had to travel for more than 5 days to get to the border that India shares with the neighbouring country, China. Nathu La Pass is no better. Pilgrims had to travel 84% of the journey in China alone.
The newly opened route is in favour of Indian pilgrims as 84% of the trip will not be spent in China but the Indian region. However, the trip will still take up a minimum of 2 days. Pilgrims have to make a stop at the small town of Gunji, near India-Nepal border, which is 10500 ft above sea level. Then, once the border is crossed, a 5 km walk is mandatory before travelling for another 97 km, to reach Kailash-Mansarovar.
However, our next-door neighbour, Nepal is not appeased by the newly constructed infrastructure and claims that the route covers a small portion of their territory, a portion that they claim to be theirs even though it is under the Indian Government. The two countries are trying to figure out the border issue.
Pilgrimage to the said destination is no easy affair. They are organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and costs INR 150,000 per head. Interested people have to enrol online and go through a rigorous physical examination.