New Delhi: Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, has urged the Union Minister for External Affairs to consider the option of routing the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage through Himachal Pradesh which would be more convenient and of short duration. In a letter written to S.M. Krishna, Union Minister for External Affairs, he said that the State had been proposing the alternate route to the sacred Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage in Tibet (China) through Himachal Pradesh for the last quite a long time.
Chief Minister wrote that present journey distance between New Delhi and Kailash-Mansarovar was 865 kilometers and the route passes through arduous hilly terrain and unpredictable climatic regions taking long time to the pilgrims to reach the holy lake and offer their obeisance before the holy Kailash Parbat. He said that although there were alternate routes also available in the Kumaon region of Uttrakhand but the Governments of India and China had mutually agreed since 1981 to conduct the pilgrimage through the Lipulekh pass in assistance with Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam on the Indian side and Tourist Company of Ali on the Chinese side during June to September every year after completion of all codal formalities and selection of the pilgrims to undertake the journey. He said that the practice was continuing since past about three decades and no changes made in the identified route to enter into Chinese territory.
Prof. Dhumal proposed that the same pilgrimage could be organised in a better way, lesser time consumed and under more convenient conditions through Kinnaur via Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. He mentioned that it would be two days journey upto Kinnaur district headquarters, Reckong Peo from New Delhi and the pilgrims could reach the border post Shipkila on Indian side on third day itself. He said that there was well maintained 25 kilometers long motorable road between Namgia and Chhapan on way to Mansarovar beyond which there existed a mule track of about 4.5 kilometers upto the Shipkila, the last point on Indian side. He said that vehicles would take only four and half an hour to complete the journey between Pooh to Shipkila border point in district Kinnaur. He said that holy lake of Mansarovar was only 91 kilometers from the border pass Shipkila and accessible by road which was being maintained by the Chinese authorities. He said that most of the journey could be conveniently carried on vehicles and quite short spans left for trekking on foot or mule.
Chief Minister said that the entire route was safe to undertake the journey during the open season besides basic amenities would also be made available to the pilgrims to make their journey more comfortable. He said that during yester years India had trade ties with China and Tibet and traders from across the border used to visit Himachal and other places to sell their produce in local markets under barter system and take home local produce as there existed ‘Silk Route’ for carrying the trade and commerce activities between both the
countries. He said that although the trade links were revived between India and China through Shipkila pass for quite some time which now had also discontinued.
Prof. Dhumal said that tribal district of Kinnaur had been universally acknowledged by visitors as favorite destination full of natural beauty and grandeur since large number of foreigners visit different stations in the area to enjoy close encounter with the nature every year.. He said that with the approval of the alternate route to Kailash-Mansarovar through HImachal Pradesh, the tourism activities would get further boost and generate employment and self employment avenues to local youth as well besides the visitors would be able to know about the tribal life style, their culture, customs, traditions and food habits. He hoped that undoubtedly the group undertaking pilgrimage would be spending some time in Himachal Pradesh, especially in tribal district of Kinnaur, to return home fully rejuvenated and re-energised. He urged the Union Minister for External Affairs to consider the proposal for which necessary details would be made available by the State Government besides extending all required assistance to make the journey safe and enjoyable.