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Tourists can visit Kailash Mansarovar through Nathula in 2015

Gangtok : Indian pilgrims would be able to visit Kailash Mansarovar in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China through the new route of Nathula in Sikkim from next year, state Tourism department officials said here today. Things are progressing at a very fast pace and that the Centre and the Sikkim Government are aiming at having the first batch of pilgrims visiting Kailash Mansarovar using this new route in June 2015, the official claimed. India and China had signed a bilateral agreement on the Nathula alternative route September 18 this year. The agreement provides for conducting the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nathula in addition to the existing Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand. The route through Nathula will augment the capacity and reduce the hardship and journey time enabling many more pilgrims, in particular aged pilgrims, to undertake the Yatra, the official said. 

More than 1,600 pilgrims, moving in ten batches, are expected to take the Sikkim route to Kailash-Masarovar next year and preparations are underway to ensure that the June deadline is met, the official informed. Two senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs were recently in Sikkim to examine state's infrastructural preparedness and to finalise other nitty-gritties. They are reported to have identified two places - 17th Mile and Sherathang on the JN Road as acclimatization centres for pilgrims. As per a proposal floated by the MEA, the pilgrims will be required to halt 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 official said. The alternative route from Nathula will reportedly proceed through Shigatse in TAR and then move on to Kailash-Mansarovar. 

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