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China has opened a new land crossing into Tibet for Indian pilgrims heading to the holy Kailash-Mansarovar area.

According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, the first group of pilgrims entered Tibet via Nathu La Pass for a 12-day trip to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.

The two countries had agreed to open Nathu La Pass (4,000 meters) during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September last year. The opening of Nathu La was formally announced during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China last month.

This is the second land crossing between China and India after the Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand.

Forty-four pilgrims entered Tibet through Nathu La Pass on Monday. “The pilgrims, who form the first batch of 250 people permitted to crossover to China this year to take part in the Yatra regarded as the most important pilgrimage for Hindus, appeared excited and cheerful,” Indian news agency PTI reported.

The opening of new route could hamper business of Nepali trekking companies who send large number of Indian pilgrims to Kailash-Mansarovar via Tatopani (Sindhupalchowk) and Hilsa (Humla) entry points during June-August. It takes around eight days to travel to Kailash-Mansarovar via Nathu La. From Nepali side, the tour can be completed in around 10 days.

BERLIN: Airlines rushed on Thursday to change rules to require a second crew member in the cockpit at all times, hours after French prosecutors suggested a co-pilot who barricaded himself alone at the controls of a jetliner had crashed it on purpose.
The United States already requires two crew members to be in the cabin at all times, but many other countries do not, allowing pilots to leave the flight deck, for example to use the toilet, as long as one pilot is at the controls.
That is precisely what French prosecutors suspect happened on the Germanwings flight on Tuesday. They say Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked the captain out and appears to have set the controls to crash into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board.
Airlines including Norwegian Air Shuttle, Britain’s easyJet , Air Canada  and Air Berlin all said within hours that they had introduced a requirement that two crew members be in the cockpit at all times.
Canada said it would immediately impose such a rule on all its airlines.
“We had a lot of concerned customers,” an Air Berlin spokesman said.
Airlines including Ryanair that already had such rules in place rushed to reassure customers.
Among the companies that did not announce such a policy change was Germanwings parent Lufthansa, whose CEO Carsten Spohr said he believed it was unnecessary.
“I don’t see any need to change our procedures here,” Spohr told journalists. “It was a one-off case. But we will look at it with the various experts at Lufthansa and the authorities. We shouldn’t lose ourselves in short-term measures.”
His comments drew criticism on Twitter, with some people demanding the airline introduce the two person-rule.
Later on Thursday Spohr told German broadcaster ARD that Lufthansa would sit down with other German carriers and the country’s aviation authority on Friday to discuss the matter. “We will see whether there are measures that can be taken quickly to further improve safety,” he said.
Germany’s aviation association BDL said all airlines in the country, including Lufthansa, had agreed to discuss such rule changes.
“Today we spoke with all our members about possible consequences,” BDL managing director Matthias von Randow told Reuters. “We will therefore look at introducing these new procedures without delay.”
The incident is likely to provoke further debate about the future of cockpit protections. Since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, regulators have required cockpit doors to be impenetrable when locked from the inside.
But the idea that pilots themselves could be a danger creates reason to re-examine such policies, said retired French crash investigator Alain Bouillard.
“Today we have the reverse question: should we be blocking doors?” he said.
Last year’s disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370 raised such questions, although whether the pilots played any role in that plane’s disappearance has never been confirmed.


Travel review portal TripAdvisor has announced ‘Travelers’ Choice Destinations 2015?, putting Kathmandu in the 19th position. Kathmandu is the only South Asian city to feature in the list.

“Nepal’s capital is surrounded by a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples, shrines, and fascinating villages,” the site writes about Kathmandu. It has suggested travelers to “mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square’s monuments, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel”. The site has also advised visitors to explore shops for exquisite work by local artisans, adding that carpets and paper prints are specialties.

The top 25 destinations were selected using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions in destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

Marrakech (Morocco) features at the top of the list. Other destinations in the list are: Siem Reap (Cambodia), Istanbul (Turkey), Hanoi (Vietnam), Prague (Czech Republic), London (England), Rome (Italy) Buenos Aires (Argentina), Paris (France), Cape Town (South Africa), New York (United States), Zermatt (Switzerland), Barcelona (Spain), Goreme (Turkey), Ubud (Indonesia), Cuso (Peru), St. Petersburg (Russia), Bangkok (Thailand), Athens (Greece), Budapest (Hungary), Queenstown (New Zealand), Hong Kong, Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Sydney (Australia).

“These world-class destinations chosen by our community are rich in history, culture and beauty and offer endless sights to explore,” Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor, said in the statement.

Popular media outlet CNN has included Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) in ’10 of the world’s most amazing long-distance trails’ list.

Describing the trail as ambitious, CNN writes in its news report: “Still being put together, when finished, this 4,500 kilometer skyscraping traverse will be the longest and highest mountain trail in the world, crossing the entire Himalaya range from Kashmir to Tibet, via India, Nepal and Bhutan.”

Nepal’s section (of the trail) is the most complete and it alone offers one of the great trekking challenges, the news report adds.

The Nepal Section of GHT is split into Low and High routes that run near parallel, beginning either side of Kanchenjunga Base Camp and ending on the Tibetan border in Humla.

“For high culture, the low route (still averaging 2,000 meters in height) passes through remote Nepali villages dotted along the hills and valleys. Only those with mountaineering experience should attempt the high route — it peaks at a breathless 6,146 meters (20,164 feet),” the report adds.

Other long trails included in the list are: The Appalachian (US), The South West Coast Path (UK) Te Araroa (New Zealand), Continental Divide Trail (US), Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail (Sudan-Uganda), Oregon Desert Trail (US) Grand Italian Trail (Italy), Hokkaido Nature Trail (Japan), and Trans Panama Trail (Panama).

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