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Take the Road: India – Mount Kailash

08/05/2020

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New road for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims is ready, will cut travel time by three days

The new road to Lipulekh pass stops just 4 km short of the China border, cutting travel from a 5-day trek to a 2-day vehicle ride.

Amrita Nayak Dutta, The Print, 8 May, 2020

A new and faster road route through Uttarakhand to reach Kailash Mansarovar, a pilgrimage site nestled in the Himalayas in Tibet, is complete and will soon be open to pilgrims, saving them time and an arduous trek of five days.

In a video conference, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Friday inaugurated the road that almost goes up till Lipulekh Pass at the India-China border, 17,000 feet above the sea level. It connects the pass to Dharchula, a town in Uttarakahand’s Pithoragarh.

Highly placed sources in the government said the project is a top priority for the Narendra Modi government. The work has been particularly challenging given that it involved cutting through tough Himalayan rocks at extreme high altitudes.

“Having served in the area, I can assure you from experience that this connectivity will greatly ease the trek to the Lipulekh Pass for the pilgrims, who have had to laboriously trek the difficult stretches earlier,” Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand told ThePrint.

Pilgrims from India can reach Kailash Mansarovar through three routes — via Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Kathmandu in Nepal — all of which are long and arduous.

The route via Uttarakhand involves three stretches. The first stretch is a 107.6 km-long road from Pithoragarh to Tawaghat, the second is from Tawaghat to Ghatiabgarh on a 19.5-km single lane, and the third stretch is the 80 kms from Ghatiabgarh to Lipulekh Pass at the China border, which can only be traversed on foot. This stretch till the India-China pass takes five days to cover.

The BRO is converting the second stretch into a double lane road, and is building a new road on the third stretch to allow vehicles. It has so far completed 76 km of the 80-km stretch, cutting travel time to just two days by a vehicle.

On crossing the International Border into China, pilgrims must walk another 5 km, followed by a road journey of 97 km and the final 43 km-parikrama around Mount Kailash.

“The last 4-5 km to the border can be trekked till it is completed,” a defence source said.

One can also travel 130 km by road from Pithoragarh to Ghatiabgarh, from where they have to cover the 80 km stretch to Lipulekh Pass.

The new road makes this route the shortest and the least expensive way to reach Mount Kailash as it is just a fifth of the distance when compared to other routes, sources said.

They added that this also ensure that the majority of the travel is in India (84 per cent) as compared to other routes where 80 per cent of the road travel is through China.


Ajay Banerjee, Tribune News Service, New Delhi, May 8

In a strategically vital development India has completed its first road connectivity to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Uttarakhand, paving the way a smooth ride for pilgrims headed to the holy Kailash Mansarovar and also for troops deployed there.

A road to the 17,000 feet high Lipulekh pass has been completed, the holy Mount Kailash  is located some 97 km north of the pass in Tibet.

Connectivity of the 80 km of Ghatiabgarh-Lipulekh was achieved by the Border Road Organisation (BRO) on April 17, some trials followed and on Friday morning Defence Minister Rajnath Singh opened the road by video conferencing. Lipulekh pass close to the Tri-junction of  India-China-Nepal, is the lowest point in this section of the high Himalayas.

The 80 km, which now has a road, entailed more than a three-day trek one-way for pilgrims and also for the security forces posted there. The road completion means it will now be two-day travel distance from Delhi to Lipulekh, a distance of 750 km via Pithoragarh. In all it will reduce some six days from the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra. Beyond, Lipulekh, the 97 km road in Tibet to Mount Tibet already exists.

The road on the Indian side, for now, has been completed just 5 km short of Lipulekh. Sources said the Director General Military Operations had placed a temporary ban on last-mile connectivity. Once that is okayed, the BRO expects to complete the last five km by the end of the year.

The entire route from Delhi to Kailash Mansarovar, other than 5km, will be on vehicles. A yatri from Delhi can go to Pithoragarh and from there on the night halt at Gunji for first acclimatization and second near Lipulekh Pass for second stage acclimatization, needed due to altitude and rarefied air in tree-less Tibet.

The other route for the yatra is via Sikkim is 2780 km. It involves taking a flight to Bagdogra (1115 km from Delhi), thereafter 1665 km of road travel, including 1490 km road travel in China.

The 80 km Ghatiabgarh-Lipulekh section is made under the directions of the China Study Group (CSG) and is funded from Indo-China Border Road (ICBR). The road was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2005 at a cost of Rs 80.76 crore. In 2018, CCS approved a revised cost of Rs 439.40 crore.

The progress in last two years was possible due to addition of construction equipment — 90 pieces of equipments were deployed on the road.

#kailashbyroad #kailashyatra #manasarova #tibettravel #newroadtokailash

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