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Kathmandu, April 25
China has opened the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra for non-Indian pilgrims and trekkers. Due to Covid-19, China lifted the ban on foreigners entering Tibet this year, and the Kailash Yatra opened. The Chinese government has allowed Kailash pilgrims to go only through Tibet's capital Lhasa and Nepal's Kerung Pass.
A team of non-Indian pilgrims and trekkers is preparing to go for the Kailash Yatra next week. A Nepali tour operator businessman of Kailash Yatra says that the Indian pilgrims have been financially affected.
According to related sources, Chinese officials from Lhasa visited Kathmandu last week to look into the Kailash Yatra. The officer, named Lee, had a discussion with the tour operator who was conducting the Kailash Yatra. India has blocked tourist visas for Chinese citizens. They said that we will not allow Indians to go to Kailash unless India makes it easy," said a Nepali tour operator who participated in the meeting with them.
A Nepali diplomatic official said that Nepal could not do anything about not allowing Indian pilgrims to go to Kailash. He said, "Whether or not India grants tourist visas to Chinese citizens is not a matter for Nepal, and it is not for Nepali businessmen." He said that the government of Nepal will not join the government of China and the government of India on the matter of reciprocity. India and China have no role in finding a solution through discussion. We cannot do anything except pray for smooth conditions for the Kailash Yatra," said the official.
The main season for Kailash is from May to September every year. The Chinese official explained the government's policy of granting visas to Indian citizens with the Association of Kailash Tour Operators, an organization of tourism businessmen who organize trips to Kailash. Under this organization, 35 professional organizations have been managing Kailash Yatra.
According to businessmen, every year before Covid, about 20,000 people from Nepal, Indians, and other countries used to go to Kailash Mansarovar. One route from Nepalgunj to Hilsa in Humla via Taklakot in Tibet and another route from Rasuwagadhi to Kailash Mansarovar via Kerung was under implementation. Currently, China has not opened the route through Humla.
As the conflict between India and China on the Himalayan border has not ended, China has stopped Indian travelers from passing through Nepal. Tibet is considered sensitive for China's security, and the Kailash region is also considered a very sensitive region of Tibet. China has been deploying a large number of troops and military equipment in the Kailash region, which borders India's northern borders with Ladakh and Uttarakhand.
Both India and China are on alert in the border area due to frequent skirmishes between the Chinese and Indian forces. Kailash has been declared a restricted zone by China. The Chinese government's Foreign Exchange Center is coordinating the travel permits and legal arrangements for foreigners in Kailash, which is under the control of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
The Foreign Exchange Center office in Lhasa will be opened in the first week of March. In coordination with the center office, Nepali travel operators have been making arrangements for travelers from Nepal to Kailash. According to the experts, the economy of Nepalgunj and Humla will be greatly affected after the Indians stop. Hotels in Nepalgunj and Humla were run because of Indian travelers going to Kailash. According to the Consulate General of Nepal in Lhasa, it has been agreed between the two sides to start the movement of people and goods through the Humla crossing from 18 Baisakh. However, only cargo will flow through Tatopani crossing.
About five thousand Nepalese have been involved every season for the food and support of Indian and Nepali pilgrims going on the Kailash Yatra. "Indian travelers coming to Kailash used to stay in Nepal for two days on departure and two days on arrival," said Basnet, president of the association. Due to the dispute between India and China, tourism has started to affect us.
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