KOHALPUR, June 8: Domestic airlines have increased flight frequencies as well as aircraft to cash in on the surge in number of passengers travelling to Kailash Mansarvoar area in Tibet via Simikot airstrip in Humla.
As many as 400 passengers are traveling to Simikot via Ranjha airport in Nepalgunj every day.
Till last week of May, six aircraft of four airlines - Goma Air, Tara Air, Simrik Air and Sita Air - had been operating flights to Simikot from Nepalgunj. Now, nine aircraft of these airlines are serving the route. Goma Air and Tara Air are operating three and two aircraft, respectively, while Simrik Air and Sita Air are operating two and one aircraft.
These airlines ferried 450 passengers from Nepalgunj to Simikot for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage on Tuesday alone, according to Ramesh Ojha of Ojha Holiday Tours and Travels. “This is a record number of passengers to Humla in a single day,” Ojha said, adding that the airline had operated flight from 6 am till 4 pm.
Around 2,000 passengers are still waiting for their turn in Nepalgunj.
Dipak Shahi, in-charge of Goma Air in Nepalgunj, said that addition of flights by airline companies have helped Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims a lot. “An aircraft having capacity of 18 passengers is operating up to eight flights a day. Flights are mostly full between mid-May and mid-October,” he added.
Ojha Holidays, Richa Treks, Trek Kailash, Eco Treks, Satyam Travels, Fishtail Tours, Sunny Treks, Kailash Tours, Rudra Kailash and Hilsa Tours & Travels are the leading companies handling Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage.
Around 12,000 Indians and Nepali pilgrims make trip to Kailash Mansarovar via Simikot annually, according to travel agency operators.
Nepalgunj has become a hub for Nepali and Indian pilgrims and foreign tourists heading to Kailash Mansarovar region of Tibet. Most of the hotels are lodges in Nepalgunj are full now. Similarly, domestic airlines are having hard times arranging flights for the passengers.
From Ranjha Airport, pilgrims and tourists first fly to Simikot airstrip in Humla. They then board a helicopter to reach Nepal-Tibet border town of Hilsa from where they are driven by Chinese tour operators to Kailash Mansarovar region.