Pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar denied entry by China through Nathu La in Sikkim may be allowed to join the yatra that takes the Uttarakhand route, but only if there are any dropouts in the new batches, a government official said on Friday. “Seven or eight pilgrims who were denied entry through Nathu La by Chinese authorities have expressed their desire to take this route,” said D K Sharma, regional tourism officer in the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), the nodal agency for the yatra.
They could be accommodated in the yatra from Lipulekh if any vacancies arise, he said. Vacancies usually occur if a would-be pilgrim is found to be medically unfit for the arduous trek to Kailash Mansarovar, located at an altitude of 15,160 feet, in Tibet.
“Their adjustment would depend on the vacancies in the forthcoming batches of pilgrims, if any,” he said. The government on Friday called off the yatra through Nathu La in Sikkim in the wake of a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops over a disputed area along the Sino-Indian border. About 400 pilgrims were slated to take the Sikkim route to the Kailash Mansarovar, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The KMNV official said the sixth batch on the Uttarakhand route is yet to leave New Delhi.
The pilgrimage to Kailash from Lipulekh had been moving “smoothly”, officials said, with five batches having been flagged off since the yatra began. The first batch of pilgrims has already returned to India from Mansarovar. Two batches are in Tibet and another two other are on their way to way to Kailash. “We have not received any complaints from pilgrims indicating bad or unusual behaviour by Chinese authorities through this route,” Sharma said. The pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, considered holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, takes place from June to September every year.