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Rahul Gandhi heads to Lhasa to begin Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage

Indian Embassy and Nepali officials said Rahul Gandhi’s visit was personal and that they were not informed about his movements and meetings.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2018 15:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
Rahul Gandhi,Kailash Mansarovar,Rahul Gandhi Kailash mansarovar
Congress president Rahul Gandhi (PTI)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi left from Kathmandu on Saturday for Lhasa to begin the week-long Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage.

Accompanied by two plain-clothed security personnel, he took a regular Air China flight to Lhasa, the capital of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

Indian embassy officials in Kathmandu and authorities at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport confirmed his departure.

Gandhi had landed in Kathmandu on Friday, hours before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached to participate in Fourth BIMSTEC Summit.

Terming his visit purely private, Indian Embassy and Nepali officials said that they were not informed much about his movements and meetings. Gandhi stayed in a five star hotel in Kathmandu but did not have meetings or other engagements.

Read | Congress-BJP spar over Rahul Gandhi’s Kailash-Mansarovar yatra

According to a Nepali official, on Gandhi’s arrival, they came to know that he is going for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, so they had decided to beef up security in Nepalganj, expecting he would begin the pilgrimage from there but he did not take that route.

Nepalganj is a popular start for pilgrims to begin the yatra via Nepal with thousands of Indian nationals opting this route via Simikot and Hilsa to Burang in Tibet, the staging point to reach Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar. But due to foul weather forecast, he cancelled the Nepali route or already decided to take flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa before leaving India.

Sources said that Gandhi will make an overnight stop over in Lhasa, before leaving for Mount Kailash on Sunday, but it is not known whether he will travel by road or take a flight. Mt Kailash is an about 2000 kilometres drive from Lhasa.

Gandhi had announced that he would go on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra after a technical snag led to his plane plunging hundreds of feet on April 26 when he was on his way to campaign in the Karnataka assembly polls.

Recalling the incident in rally in Delhi three days later, the Congress chief said as the plane suddenly came down by 8000 feet, he believed it was his end. He said that after the narrow escape, he had decided to thank Lord Shiva by undertaking the pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, considered the deity’s abode.

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 14:57 IST