On Friday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass and Dharchula, a town in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh. The link road constructed at a height of 17,000 feet along the border with Tibet in Uttarakhand will now provide an option for faster access to reach Kailash Mansarovar, a pilgrimage site nestled in the Himalayas in Tibet.
After inaugurating the road through video-conferencing, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said pilgrims going to Kailash Mansarovar will now be able to complete their journey in one week instead of up to three weeks. The Minister also flagged off a convoy of vehicles from Pithoragarh to Gunji.
The road originates at Ghatiabagarh and ends at Lipulekh pass, the gateway to Kailash-Mansarovar. Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet is just around 90 km from the Lipulekh pass. Kailash Parbat which is located in the vicinity of Mansarovar Lake is considered sacred in four religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon.
“Delighted to inaugurate the Link Road to Mansarovar Yatra today. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) achieved road connectivity from Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border) known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route,” Singh tweeted.
Delighted to inaugurate the Link Road to Mansarovar Yatra today. The BRO achieved road connectivity from Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border) known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route. Also flagged off a convoy of vehicles from Pithoragarh to Gunji through video conferencing. pic.twitter.com/S8yNeansJW— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) May 8, 2020
The new link road provides strategic advantage to Armed Forces
According to the Military officials, the new road connectivity will also help in the speedy movement of troops in the strategically key region bordering China. The opening up of the strategically vital road, over 80-km of tough Himalayan terrain, between the Mangti camp near Tawaghat and Gunji in the Vyas valley, and the security posts on the Indian side of the border, has become accessible.
The Defence Ministry has said the BRO in Uttarakhand has connected Kailash Mansarovar route to Lipulekh pass, which will provide connectivity to border villages and security forces.
The construction of the road began in 2008 and was scheduled to be completed in 2013, but it got delayed due to the tough terrain in the portion between Nazang to Bundi village.
“The 15-km long most challenging portion of the road from Nazang to Bundi was outsourced in 2015 to a private company under the technical guidance of BRO engineers, which completed the portion despite all odds before the set date by the minister last year,” Hindustan Times quoted a BRO officer.
Reduction in travel time
Shalu Datal, a social worker based in Dharchula said that the new road is a boon for residents of all seven villages in Vyans valley. The new road has reduced the travel time from five days to four hours to reach the high altitude villages from Dharchula and vice versa.
Earlier, after reaching Ghatiabgarh via Pitharogarh, it was 79 km or five days of foot trek to Lipulekh Pass. Pithoragarh is 490 km from Delhi. Lipulekh pass at 17,000 feet is close to the tri-junction of India, China and Nepal.
According to Datal, the new infrastructure will also help the winter and summer migration of tribal people to the upper Himalayan region. Overall it will strengthen border security and boost the economy in the bordering villages, said Shalu Datal.
At present, there are two more routes available to undertake the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. The first one is through Sikkim and second option is to travel via Kathmandu. The Sikkim route involves taking a flight to Bagdogra, which is 1115 km from Delhi, thereafter 1665 km of road travel and 43 km of parikrama on foot. Out of total 1665 km from Bagdogra, only 175 km travel is in India.
The other route to Kailash Mansarovar involves taking a flight to Kathmandu and thereafter a combination of two flights with road travel of 1940 km from Nepal. The distance excludes 43 km of the foot to Parikarma in China.
The new road to Mansarovar is also the shortest and cheapest route and also one-fifth distance of road travel as compared to the other routes.