Sikkim Shuts Down Nathu La Route

by Suchismita Pal
Sikkim Shuts Down Nathu La Route

The tiny hilly Indian state, Sikkim is very much in the headlines now, mostly for good reasons. It is the only Indian state that has not reported a single case of COVID-19 till date, thanks to its stringent precautionary measures. Not only did the state start border screenings as early as 27th January 2020, but it has also suspended all tourist activities till the month of October. Thus, Sikkim’s Nathu La pass connecting India to Tibet has been closed now. This means, the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra which takes place through this pass also won’t occur this year.

What’s Happening?

The India-China border trade was expected to begin in the month of May, but it is cancelled now to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra was scheduled to start in June and continue till September. It takes place via the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim and Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand. The yatra attracts thousands of devotees from all across the country. Owning to the crisis, the pilgrimage will also not happen this year. The Nathu La trade route between India and China had remained closed since 1962 and reopened in 2006. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the pass had started only about two years ago. Since China is the country from where the virus had begun, the Sikkim government isn’t ready to take any risk at this point of time and has thus closed the trade route.

Nathu La Pass and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
Picture Credits: Outlook India
Nathu La Pass and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
Picture Credits: The Indian Express

Also Read: Sikkim Is The Only Indian State With Zero Coronavirus Cases Till Now

What Else?

The intercountry trade through Nathu La and the Kailash Mansarovar tourism generate huge revenue for the Sikkim government every year. But this time, the state is ready to bear the losses, keeping the safety and health of its citizens as priorities. The Centre had announced the nationwide lockdown in India after 22nd March, 2020. However, the entire state of Sikkim went into a self-quarantine mode on 17th March itself. Though the state is COVID-19 free, about six Sikkimese people staying at the Sikkim government-run guest house in New Delhi, DKK Bhawan have tested positive for the virus.

Nathu La Pass and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
Picture Credits: Kinnaur Tourism

Also Read: Sikkim Shuts All Doors To Tourists Till October To Remain Coronavirus-Free

The residents of Sikkim are high on discipline and sanitization. They have taken the guidelines of lockdown and social distancing far more seriously than many other states. And they are still making efforts to keep their state COVID-19 free till the end. The state might even land up to The Guinness Book of Records for being the only Indian state absolutely untouched by the virus.