Gangtok (Sikkim), June 16: The first batch of 33 pilgrims, on their way to Kailash Mansarovar via Nathu La pass in Sikkim, was flagged off from here on Saturday.
Additional chief secretary SC Gupta flagged off a Sikkim Nationalised Transport (SNT) bus carrying the pilgrims for their onward journey.
There are two routes for the yatra – through Lipulekh pass (Uttarakhand) and Natu La pass (Sikkim).
The route via Sikkim was stopped by China in the aftermath of the military face-off with India last year at Doklam.
The yatra, which holds religious value and cultural significance, is undertaken by hundreds of people every year.
A welcome and briefing session was held at a local hotel a day after the pilgrims arrived here from Delhi. The batch also has two Liaison officers.
Gupta apprised the pilgrims about the rules and regulations and urged them to cooperate with each other as well as the supporting staff.
The Tourism and Civil Aviation Secretary C P Dhakal, ITBP DIG KD Dwivedi, ITBP Deputy Commandant Ganesh Rohtela, Sikkim Mountaineering Association president Kunzang Gyatso also interacted with the pilgrims.
The pilgrims will stay two days at 15th mile and another two days at Sherathang for acclimatization. There will be a final medical check at Nathu La on June 20 before they cross over to China. (PTI).