BEIJING – As to set aside the differences and improve ties China has inaugurated a new land crossing into Tibet on Monday for Indian pilgrims who want to visit one of the holiest sites in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
The first batch of 46 pilgrims entered Tibet via a Himalayan pass in mid-morning for the 12-day trip to Mount Kailash, which will also take in a holy lake.
An elaborate ceremony has been planned to welcome them, which will be attended by Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng and diplomats from the Indian Embassy in Beijing.
The agreement to open the route was reached during last year’s visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged him earlier to open the route to reduce the difficulties.
The new route through the Himalayan pass will facilitate more comfortable travel for the Indian pilgrims, especially the elderly, by buses compared to the existing route via Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand.
Few Indian pilgrims ever make it to Mount Kailash despite its significance, not only because of its remoteness but also because of difficulties in getting visas for China’s tightly controlled region of Tibet.
China and India have growing commercial links and long historical ties, but their recent history has been overshadowed by suspicion and they have yet to sort out a border dispute.
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