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HP Efforts to Revive Silk Route

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/11/13; November 13, 2000.]

Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Nov 10 - Efforts are being made by the Himachal government to reopen the old Hindustan-Tibet road, passing through picturesque mountains and valleys, which completes 150 years now. This was also known as the silk route.

Work on the road was started during British regime in 1850 by Lord Dalhousie to provide a road link with Tibet with which Rampur and other princely states had trade ties before the formeršs annexation by China.

A large number of Tibetan traders used to participate in the Lavi fair at Rampur, which incidentally on these days in on however, not a single trader from China has participated in the fair although the trade agreement with China from the Kinnaur border was also opened a few years ago. Indian traders have been visiting the China occupied Tibet every year to sell merchandise following the signing of the trade agreement with China.

The road in the earlier times was used for carrying musk, borax, wool, livestock, dryfruit, precious and semi-precious stones to and from Tibet, Kashmir, Ladakh and Yarkand.

Lord Dalhousie who was the Governor General wanted to create trade ties with Tibet and this was one of the reasons for initiating work on the road.

According to the records a major achievement of the road was the construction of the Dhalli tunnel which even today is the lifeline for the higher hills. Some 18,000 convicts and labourers free of cost were employed in boring the tunnel through solid rock.

However, the road has changed its alignment at many places now, but the old one came to the rescue of people during the recent flash floods which devastated many areas of the tribal district of Kinnaur.

Before the annexation of Tibet by China, trade was done by road which followed the bed of the Sutlej and crossed high passes.

The road was transferred to the Border Roads Organisation in 1961 when some major changes in the alignment were made. However, the old track also continues to be there.

The upper Hindustan-Tibet road climbs the national highway 22 at Tapri and extends on an upper alignment of an average elevation of 2740 metres upto Shyaso khad where it drops down to rejoin the national highway.

It passes along the rivers Sutlej and Spiti for most of its length.

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