Kailash pilgrims to benefit from new Tibet airport

Lord Shiva`s abode Mount Kailash and Mansarovar lake, revered by Hindus across the globe, can now be accessed by air as China today inaugurated a high- altitude airport in Tibet near the two holy places.

Updated: Jul 01, 2010, 22:04 PM IST

Beijing: Lord Shiva`s abode Mount Kailash
and Mansarovar lake, revered by Hindus across the globe, can
now be accessed by air as China today inaugurated a high-
altitude airport in Tibet near the two holy places.

An Airbus 319 landed at Gunsa Airport in Ngari Prefecture
of the Tibetan Autonomous Province at 10:20 am local time,
marking the airport`s formal opening, Chinese official media
here reported, without referring to the two ancient holy
places.

Mt Kailash and Mansarovar are situated in the Ngari
Prefecture close to India and Nepal borders in the South.

The airport built at the cost of USD 242 billion by China
is located at more than 4,200 meters above sea level and has a
4,500-metre runway. It is expected to handle 1.2 lakh
passengers by 2020.

It is the fourth operational civil airport in Tibet after
Gonggar, Lhasa and Bamda in Qamdo Prefecture and Nyingchi. A
fifth airport called `Peace Airport` in Xigaze is expected to
be inaugurated in October.

The five airports together with the famed high-altitude
Tibetan railway are expected to throw open Tibet, regarded as
the `roof of the world`, to international tourism, including
close access to Mount Everest from the Tibetan side.

China, which till now was cagy about opening Tibet for
international tourists apprehending trouble by followers of
the Dalai Lama, said recently that it plans to unveil a host
of virgin scenic spots like the famed Brahmaputra Canyon to
boost its international tourist arrivals.

The five airports joined by a vast road network built by
China would link almost all holy and scenic spots of Tibet.

At present, Indian tourists visit Mt Kailash and
Mansrovar through Nepal after obtaining special pilgrim visas
from China.

The airport at Gunsa may receive a lot of Indian tourists
in future as the Sino-India relations have been on the upswing
in the recent months, according to observers here.

The Chinese government is taking a group of international
journalists to showcase its modern infrastructure in Tibet.

Chinese Foreign Ministry officials said more international
guests would be welcome to visit Tibet in future.

On the defence front, the vast modern infrastructure
stretching up to the Indian borders in Arunachal Pradesh
prompted India to begin improving infrastructure on its side
as it provides tremendous logistic advantage to the Chinese
defence forces to deploy their troops in a short notice.

-PTI