Pilgrimage Tourism to Mount Kailash: A Case Study of the Ladakh Route

The Changthang region is a part of the high altitude Tibetan plateau. In eastern Ladakh, the Changthang stretches approximately 1,600 kilometers east into Tibet. The region is rich in wildlife and home to vast species of flora and fauna and scenic lakes attracting mainly international tourists and recently saw a huge inflow of mass domestic tourism. The Changthang region shot to limelight in India recently due to the yearlong border standoff in the Galwan valley and Pangong Lake. However, the region is located on a historically important trade route for travelers, pilgrims and traders on their way to Tibet. This centuries old trade route came to an end by 1950’s with the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the subsequent India-China war in 1962. The paper presents a critical analysis of the potential revival of the centuries old trade route for pilgrim tourism and trade fostering cross-border cooperation between India and China. The paper considers the possibility of re-opening the Kailash-Mansarover route through the Leh-Demchok route which will in turn contribute to the sustainable development of the Changthang region. The study encapsulates the potential of developing cross-border tourism which could bring numerous benefits to the border regions of the Changthang in India and China.