New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday announced that the Nathu La pass has been opened for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
Addressing the media, the Union Minister said, "I had told Chinese Foreign Ministry that relations between governments cannot prosper until people-to-people relations are improved. When Nathu La pass was closed during last Yatra it came as a blow to people. I am happy to announce that it has now been opened for Yatra."
"We will send 18 batches, of 60 pilgrims each, through Lipulekh Pass and 10 batches, of 50 pilgrims each, through Nathu La Pass. Around 1580 pilgrims will undertake the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra this year," she added.
Swaraj, who was in China for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)'s Foreign Ministers' meet, said during a presser that her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi had agreed to allow Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, which was stopped by Beijing after the 72-day-long Doklam standoff.
Commenting on the annual yatra, Swaraj had said earlier, "The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La route will be resumed this year. I am confident that with Chinese side's full cooperation, this year's yatra will be a fulfilling experience for visiting Indian pilgrims."
The entire selection process for the Yatra is computerised and based on a random-number-generation system to ensure fairness and transparency in the entire process.
The four-month travel period of the KMY starts in June. Thousands of Indian pilgrims take part in the yatra every year via Nepal in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China ahead of the monsoon season.
The tour is organised by the MEA each year between June and September in cooperation with the government of People's Republic of China through two different routes - Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand) and Nathu La Pass (Sikkim).
The NathuLa route was opened to Indian pilgrims in 2015. After crossing over the Nathu La pass, Indian pilgrims are ferried by Chinese transport to Kailash.