The Ministry of External Affairs told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that China has agreed to restart the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La in Sikkim, IANS reported. Pilgrims were not allowed to use the Nathu La route in 2017 in the wake of the Doklam standoff between India and China.

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that pilgrims were not allowed to use the route in 2017 after the Chinese government cited unfavourable weather conditions. Pilgrims travelling through the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand had continued the trek as scheduled.

The matter was raised during meetings between the Indian and Chinese governments last year, Singh said. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had also discussed it in her meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in December 2017. “Subsequently, the Chinese government has confirmed resumption of [the] yatra on this route,” Singh said.

The Ministry of External Affairs has been organising the annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra since the 1980s. The Nathu La route was inaugurated in June 2015. Administered by the Tibet Autonomous Region government on the Chinese side, it cuts short the trekking time.

Doklam standoff

India and China were locked in a 74-day military standoff at the Doklam sector in Sikkim between June and August 2017. The Doklam plateau is located near the tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China. Both Thimphu and Beijing claim it as their territory.

Beijing and New Delhi had both maintained that troops from the other nation had transgressed into their territory. Bilateral ties were strained after the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a road in Doklam. On August 29, 2017, India announced that it was disengaging its troops from Doklam.