Manasarovar Yatra bonds India, China

Manasarovar Yatra bonds India, China

On June 30, I was glad to call on the fourth batch of 47 Indian yatris preparing to set out for the holy Kailash Manasarovar in Chinese Tibet on the new route via Nathu La Pass.

Recalling the happy and exciting interaction with yatris, I feel with eagerness deep inside to share my feelings with Indian friends and readers.

China and India are close neighbours and enjoy close connections. Geographically, we share mountains and rivers. Retrospectively, we share history and culture. And most importantly, we share a bright future. Acclaimed as King of Mountains and Mother of Rivers, Kailash Manasarovar bears extraordinary significance to the peoples of China and India. Despite differences in religion, culture and ethnicity, we share utmost respect for Kailash Manasarovar.

At present, there are three routes for Indian yatris to Kailash Manasarovar. One is through Lipulekh Pass, the long stretch of which has to be traversed on foot. Yatris have to climb up hills and wade through waters. This route is inconvenient and unsafe. The second route is through Zhang Mu Port across the China-Nepal border, now cut off since the horrendous earthquake in 2015. Compared with these two routes, the new pilgrimage route via Nathu La Pass is much more convenient, comfortable and safe.

In September 2014, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached an imp-ortant consensus in opening the new pilgrimage route of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra via Nathu La. Before the opening of the new route in June 2015, an advance team from the Chinese Embassy in India led by the then Ambassador Le Yucheng took a ground paving mission along the new route to Kailash Manasarovar, checking all the facilities prepared by the Chinese side for catering to the yatris.

Kailash Manasarovar is located on the vast and barren land of Chinese Tibetan Plateau with an altitude of over 4,000 metres. Despite adverse natural conditions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, the Chinese Embassy in India and the local governments in the Tibet Autonomous Region, extended the warmest welcome to Indian yatris, and have devoted much effort for opening the new route. Parts of the related preparation work are:
a) building new reception centres, hotels and stay points; b) constructing facilitation infrastructures like roads and bridges; c)training professional guides, interpreters and drivers; d) preparing medical service for emergency; e) providing gratis visa and facilities for yatris by the Chinese Embassy in India; f) sponsoring Indian cooks with yatris so as to preparing authentic Indian vegetarian diet etc.

With the opening of the new route via Nathu La Pass, the trip to Kailash Manasarovar is no longer tough for the yatris. Sitting comfortably in air-conditioned buses all the way through, they could enjoy the heavenly beauty and grace of the splendid landscapes in Chinese Tibet. After one-year’s successful practice in 2015, there will be seven batches of about 350 yatris via Nathu La in 2016.

Importance of sharing
According to the preliminary agreement between Chinese and Indian foreign ministries, 2018 will witness 500 yatris via Nathu La, with a steady increase on a yearly basis from 2015. And in the long run, even more yatris will benefit from the new route.

The pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar would accomplish yatris’ dream of life and could also be a special honeymoon for couples in the batch. The opening of the new route will definitely not be possible without the close cooperation between the governments of China and India. Both the governments are devoted to opening the new route, with a firm belief in the great importance of ‘sharing’, by which more friends be made, and more happiness rendered between the two peoples. And the wisdom of ‘sharing’ can be rightly applied to China-India relations as well.

As friendly neighbours, China and India together account for more than one third of the total population of the world. Joining hands together, we may envisage a better Asia and a better world in the foreseeable future. From this perspective, the importance of a sound bilateral relationship between China and India is quite self-evident.

We should spare no effort to ensure the good relations with love and sincerity and strengthen bonds of amity between our two peoples. We have the ability to fulfill this objective, and surely, we will achieve the goal.

All Indian friends travelling to Kailash Manasarovar are not just yatris, but also folk ambassadors shouldering the responsibility of passing friendship of the two peoples from generation to generation. There is an old Chinese saying that ‘One who fails to reach the Great Wall is not a hero’.

All yatris would be heroes after the fulfillment of Kailash Manasarovar yatra. Sincerely, I wish that my Indian friends would enjoy a pleasant trip and share the unique experiences in Chinese Tibet with their families members and friends when back home.

New energy needs to be continuously instilled into China-India relations and friendship through Kailash Manasarovar Yatra.

(The writer is Chargé d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in India)
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