China on Monday (22 June 2015) opened a new route along the Himalayan Nathu La Pass for pilgrims from India traveling to Tibet, to further promote religious exchanges between the two countries, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The first group of 43 Indian nationals entered Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China, via this pass at 10 a.m., starting a 12-day pilgrimage to the sacred religious sites of Mount Kangrinboqe and Mapam Yumco Lake in Ngari Prefecture, Tibet.
Free jackets, backpacks and blankets were provided to the pilgrims by Chinese authorities upon their arrival.
“This new route is safer, more convenient and comfortable than the former one,” said Dong Mingjun, vice chairman of Tibet regional government, at the pass.
It will shorten the pilgrimage time from more than 20 days to about eight or 10 days, he added.
Le Yucheng, the Chinese ambassador to India, said the pass was the result of a consensus reached by both Chinese and Indian leaders when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in September last year.
The Nathu La Pass sits 4,545 meters above sea level and is wedged between Tibet’s Yadong County in Xigaze Prefecture, and India’s Sikkim State.