AHMEDABAD: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying red carpet for China president Xi Jinping during his visit to India last year, it was expected that the new chapter in cooperation between the Asian giants would benefit the citizens of the two nations.
But nothing of that sort happened. On the contrary, those aspiring to go on a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, will have to shell out 20% more from this year as the Chinese government has hiked the bus tour rates by $350.
This decision of the Chinese government would put additional burden on over 5,000 Gujaratis who go for the pilgrimage every year. According to private tour operators, the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra package that currently costs between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1 lakh, would now cost somewhere between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.25 lakh.
An additional Rs 25,000 is charged if one starts from Ahmedabad, taking the total cost of the Yatra for a Gujarati to Rs 1.5 lakh. Private tour operators take route via Nepal, unlike the Union government which takes route through Uttarakhand and Nathula Pass in Sikkim.
The Union government charges from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 1.75 lakh per person, for the 24-day Yatra. Pilgrims are selected on the basis of draws.
A city-based private tour operator Mahesh Dudhakiya said that there was still no clarity over why the charges were hiked by the China government. "We have received a letter from China government that bus tour will cost $350 more from this season. Also, the China government has decided that each 35-seater bus will carry only 17 persons," Dudhakiya said.