First Mountain Flight To Kailash Mansarovar Flies From Nepalgunj

This week, a chartered flight to the holy Kailash Mansarovar was inaugurated from Nepalgunj. The Kailash–Mansarovar Darshan Flight carried 38 Indians
Lake Manasarovar with the Kangrinboqe Peak in the background
Lake Manasarovar with the Kangrinboqe Peak in the backgroundMeiqianbao/Shutterstock

Lake Mansarovar captivates visitors from around the globe with its unrivalled vistas of the majestic Himalayas. Perched at an altitude of about 4,500 meters above sea level, this high-altitude freshwater lake, known locally as Mapam Yumtso, is fed by the Kailash Glaciers near Mount Kailash in Burang County of the Ngari Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region, China. The lake holds profound religious significance for Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism adherents. Hindu followers believe that partaking in the lake's waters and immersing oneself in its sacred depths purges the soul of past transgressions. At the same time, Buddhists revere it as a connection to Anavatapta, the holy place where Maya, the mother of Buddha, gave birth.

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is one of the most popular pilgrimage events for Indians. Started by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in 1981, it sees hundreds of pilgrims during the season which normally begins in May and lasts till September. Accessing the pilgrimage area has always been a difficult proposition. So far, it has been accessed by two routes, one via the Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand, and the second route via the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim. Now all that will change with the launch of a mountain flight from Nepalgunj.

About The Flight

The first mountain flight to the holy Kailash Mansarovar took off from Nepalgunj in Banke district, Nepal, with 38 Indians on board on Monday, January 29, 2024. This included pilgrims from different places like New Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The chartered Kailash-Mansarovar Darshan Flight provided a spectacular close-up view of Mount Kailash and the Mansarovar Lake. Mani Lamichhane, director of the Nepal Tourism Board, told PTI, "The Indian tourists can feel the divinity without much hard work; they don't need to spend days to see Mt. Kailash; they will see it in 1.5 hours."

Pilgrims travelling to the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nepal had to first visit Kathmandu. However, with this flight, they do not need to travel to Nepal's capital. Nepalgunj is only around 200 kilometres northeast of Lucknow, India, and is also accessible by road.

“This chartered flight of Shri Airlines with 38 Indian tourists took around one and a half our to complete the trip,” Keshav Neupane, regional director of the Siddhartha Business Group that started the venture, told PTI. “The flight to Mt Kailash and Mansarovar is cheap, quick, reliable and safe,” Neupane said.

A Convenient Alternative

The flight will make a big difference for Indian pilgrims, both in terms of costs incurred and time. Following the COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns, China reopened the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage in 2023. However, the large increase in costs and several visa restrictions, particularly for Indian pilgrims, played spoilsport.

“We will try to make it as frequently as possible based on the demand,” said Lamichhane. “This will help increase border tourism movement. Now, Indians will be able to have a darshan of Mt Kailash and Lake Mansarovar without coming to Kathmandu.” According to reports, the next chartered flight will take place in the first week of February.

With inputs from PTI

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