22/06/2015 6:55 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Indian Pilgrims Can Easily Visit Mount Kailash Thanks To China's New Route

China Photos via Getty Images
PURANG COUNTY, CHINA - JUNE 16: (CHINA OUT) A nun from Nepal worships the snow-capped Kangrinboqe Mountain, known as Mt. Kailash in the West, June 16, 2007 in Purang County of Tibet Autonomous Region, China. Kangrinboqe, meaning 'the holy mountain' in Tibetan, is the summit of Gangdise Mountains with an altitude around 6,638 meters (21,778 feet) above sea-level. It is considered a sacred place in four religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon faith. Every year, thousands of pilgrims, including Tibetans, overseas religious devotees from India, Nepal and Bhutan, make pilgrimages to Kangrinboqe, following a tradition dating back thousands of years. Some of pilgrims take a year or longer to reach the sacred mountain. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

China inaugurated a new land crossing into Tibet on Monday for Indian pilgrims who wish to visit one of the holiest sites in both Hinduism and Buddhism, state media said, as the two countries seek to set aside differences and improve ties.

The first group of pilgrims entered Tibet via a Himalayan pass in mid-morning for the 12-day trip to Mount Kailash, which will also take in a holy lake, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The opening of the pass was agreed last year when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India.

The move will "further promote religious exchanges between the two countries", Xinhua said.

Few Indian pilgrims ever make it to Mount Kailash despite its significance, not only because of its remoteness but also because of difficulties in getting visas for China's tightly controlled region of Tibet.

China and India have growing commercial links and long historical ties, but their recent history has been overshadowed by suspicion and they have yet to sort out a festering border dispute.

China and India proposed measures to resolve the border issues while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Beijing in May. Beijing has sought to clear obstacles to a relationship that it says could change the international political order.

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