An assurance by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday over the possibility of an additional route for the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage in China through Himachal Pradesh has cheered the state's hospitality industry. The option of routing the annual pilgrimage through another route, most probably from this hill state, would boost the tourism industry. Ahead of the BRICS summit, the two leaders met at Fortaleza in Brazil where Modi also raised the possibility of additional route for the Mansarovar yatra as the present one from Uttarakhand is a difficult one. Xi gave an assurance that China will consider the request for the additional route. Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former two-time chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has taken up the matter with the central government a number of times to consider the option of routing the Mansarovar pilgrimage through Himachal as it is more convenient, safer and shorter than through Uttarakhand. Official sources said from Shipkila, the last Indian village in Kinnaur district, the holy lake of Mansarovar is just 91 km, which can be mostly covered by road. Only a short distance is left for trekking. The journey between New Delhi and Shipkila is of three days, with two night halts at Shimla and Rekong Peo towns. "With the routing of Mansarovar pilgrimage through this state, our youths will get benefit by getting employment avenues. It will even generate self-employment options," Dhumal told IANS. Every year, thousands of pilgrims visit Kailash-Mansarovar from June to September. This is one of the toughest pilgrimages among Hindus.
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