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New Delhi, Jun 11: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today flagged off the first batch of pilgrims undertaking the annual yatra to Kailash Mansarovar in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. Speaking on the occasion, she said elaborate arrangements including a tracking system of pilgrims is being put in place to ensure well-being of all those visiting the sacred place. The first batch is undertaking the pilgrimage through the existing route of Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand. (Read: Yogendra Yadav, Anand Kumar address ‘Swaraj Samvad’ in Varanasi) Also Read - Remembering Sushma Swaraj: PM Modi Pays Tribute to Forgone Leader Who Was 'India's Voice at World Stage'
Pilgrimage to the famous religious place will also be undertaken through a second route via Nathu La, which was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit here last September. “I am happy our Prime Minister has successfully taken forward the preliminary talks I had with the Chinese Foreign Minister on opening a second route for the pilgrimage. He had taken up the issue with Chinese President and Prime Minister,” Swaraj said on opening of the route through Nathu La. Also Read - 'Abrogation of Article 370 India's Internal Matter, Other Nations Have no Business,' Says Venkaiah Naidu
A total of 18 batches, each comprising around 60 pilgrims, will visit Kailash Mansoravar through the existing route while five batches having 50 pilgrims each will visit it through the second route. The second route through the Himalayan pass of Nathu La, 4,000 metres above sea level, will allow more Indians to undertake the pilgrimage, in addition to the existing route. The Lipulekh Pass route was badly damaged in the floods in Uttarakhand in 2013.
Swaraj said a tracking system has been put in place so that government is aware about well-being and whereabouts of the pilgrims. The route through Nathu La Pass will facilitate comfortable travel for Indian pilgrims by buses, especially for elderly Indian citizens. Modalities for opening the second route for the Kailash- Manasarovar Yatra in Tibet via Sikkim by this month were finalised on February 1 when Swaraj visited China.