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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.

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