Under grey skies and a light drizzle, 43 Indians bound for the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, crossed the India-China border at Nathu La, pioneering a pilgrim route, and adding another dimension to the Sino-Indian people-to-people contacts.
“It is a great historic day when both people are expressing their utmost confidence in each other thanks to [China’s] President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Rajya Sabha member Tarun Vijay, in a conversation with The Hindu . Mr. Vijay is leading the pilgrims, who had queued up on the Indian side of the dizzying 4545-metre pass, before crossing over to the Chinese side.
A traditional welcome awaited the travellers as they cleared immigration at the pass. All the pilgrims were honoured at the pass with Kha Da, a traditional Tibetan white scarf, before they headed for the green buses which would take them for the pilgrimage. The entire distance of 1,500 km would be covered over three days. A three-member team from the Indian embassy in Beijing is accompanying the pilgrims, along with other support and medical staff.
“The new route is more comfortable, more convenient and much safer than the old ones. Instead of traversing days through tough terrain at high risk, you can now reach the sacred place by bus while enjoying the heavenly beauty along the way,” said Le Yucheng at a colourful but simple inaugural ceremony of the new route.
The Nathu La passage for the sacred site seemed to combine spirituality with Soft Power — an essential ingredient of India-China ties, which appear to be undergoing a rapid transformation.
The Chinese side also well understood the empathetic chord that was struck at a people-to-people level by the opening of the new route. “We on the Chinese side understand very well how Kailash Mansarovar features in the Indian mind and will do what we can to make the yatra a pleasant and memorable one,” observed Mr. Le, the ambassador. The Indian side also stressed the link between societal ties, deepened by the new Kailash route, and a thriving Sino-Indian relationship.
Source - The Hindu