Remarks by Ambassador of India to China, H.E.Mr. Ashok K. Kantha on the Occasion of the Opening of Nathu La route for Kailash Mansarover Pilgrimage, 22 June 2015
H.E. Mr. Dong Mingjun, Vice Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region
H.E. Ambassador Le Yucheng,
It is an immense pleasure for the Embassy of India and me personally to welcome the Yatris on the historic opening of the new route for Kailash Manasarover Yatra through Nathu La.
At the outset, I would like to express the gratitude of the Government of India to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for opening the second pilgrimage route for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. This was an important decision announced during the visit of President Xi Jinping to India last September. Within nine months, the modalities for the Yatra have been organized and operationalized, indicating the robust commitment, strong efforts and mutual cooperation of both sides.
The new pilgrimage route is another enduring symbol of the rich and growing people-to-people bonds between India and China. Relations between India and China are on a continuous growth path, as seen in the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China just eight months after President Xi Jinping’s visit to India. Despite the short time lag between these landmark meetings, our two countries signed as many as 50 agreements during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to China, including government-to-government understandings and business deals.
Today, the relationship between the world’s two largest developing countries and fastest-growing economies embraces multiple spheres of interaction such as economic, cultural, defence, space and other areas. The age-old spiritual connect is an essential component of contemporary mutual understanding.
A diverse and dynamic people-to-people engagement is central to this effort, and the opening of the route through Nathu La is a further milestone. It cements the strong civilizational linkages forged over centuries that provide the fountain head of our shared cultural space. Our leaders have crafted a vibrant spectrum of initiatives, covering tourism, cultural exchanges, academic links, and youth interaction, among others, to reinforce mutual understanding. This contributes to the peace and prosperity of our two nations as well as of the larger Asian and global platforms.
Since 1981, thousands of Yatris have traveled from India to Kailash-Manasarovar under the aegis of the Ministry of External Affairs. The Embassy of India in Beijing has supported and coordinated arrangements with the Chinese Government and the local authorities of Tibet Autonomous Region.
The route through Nathu La is in addition to the existing route through Lipulekh Pass and is motorable, making it easier for pilgrims,especially the elderly, to go to Kailash and Manasarover. Passing through majestic mountains, it is not just a journey to the very special pilgrimage sites of Kailash and Manasarovar but a journey of the soul. I have no doubt that you would return from this journey personally enriched as also with a stronger commitment to the global social commons and a deeper understanding of our trans-border links with China.
We appreciate the hard work of the Chinese side to ensure all facilities for the comfort of the pilgrims. The Embassy of India has deputed three officers to receive the first batch of pilgrims and coordinate with the Chinese side. Let me also take this opportunity to assure you that the Embassy,and I personally, stand ready to assist you as required.
I wish you all well for the journey and your pilgrimage and once again thank the Chinese Government for their assistance and cooperation.