The Shipki La Pass

The Shipki La Pass or Shipki Pass is a hill pass in India. It also serves as the boundary post on the frontier between China and India. The famous Sutlej River penetrates India from the Tibetan territory through this pass.

The Shipki Pass lies in the Autonomous Region of Tibet in PRC (People’s Republic of China) and Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh in India. The pass works as the third frontier post of India for carrying out trade and commerce activities with China. The other two passes are the Lipulekh Pass in Uttaranchal and Nathula Pass in Sikkim . The pass enjoys its proximity to the town of Khab.

Kinnaur – Nature’s wonder close to the Shipki Pass

The Kinnaur District is one of the 12 administrative districts of Himachal Pradesh. Kinnaur is situated in the northeast corner of Himachal Pradesh and it is bordered by the Tibetan territory to the east, approximately 235 km from Shimla. It is an extremely picturesque district and has the presence of all three tall mountain ranges, that is to say Greater Himalayas, Zanskar, and Dhauladhar, bordering basins of Spiti, Sutlej, Baspa and their tributaries. All the basins are stunningly scenic. The hillsides are wrapped with dense forests, plantations, meadows, and beautiful villages. The much pious Shivlinga is situated at the summit of Mount Kinner Kailash. The picturesque region was open for the foreigners since 1989. The old Hindustan-Tibet highway traverses the Kinnaur basin beside the riverbank of Sutlej and ultimately moves into the Tibetan territory at Shipki Pass. It is not just the attractive features that draw the young and old equally but also the ways of life of the inhabitants, their society, tradition, rituals, and beliefs.

The much religious inhabitants who have powerful traditions and convictions usually follow Hinduism and Buddhism. They think that the Pandavas arrived and stayed in the territory when they were in deportation. In the prehistoric legends, the inhabitants of Kinnaur are named as Kinners, the intermediate between deities and human beings. Monasteries that have a history of thousand years are still present in the territory. Both the Hindus and Buddhists stay in ideal synchronization, representing the orthodox fraternity and amity of the citizens of both the religions.

The chilgoza, apples, and other types of dry fruits are cultivated here and all of them are known globally. The high landscape of this area offers excellent opportunities for adventure sports of different types. Picturesque hiking itineraries incorporate the “Kinner Kailash Parikarma”. The scenic Nako lake is situated here and there are three popular wildlife parks.

In 1962, the pass was blocked and it opened again in 1993. However, only Indian businessmen were allowed to use it. The Border Roads Organization (BRO) constructed a path in 2006 to a spot ahead of the pass. No road guides you to the pass itself other than a path for mules. On the boundary, a checkpost has been set up by the Customs Department and Police. Trading is quite meager, in 2006 just 18 merchants from India requested for permits to go across the boundary. Because of the climate, the pass remains shut for 7 months round the year.

Some important information about Shipki Pass

  • Type of location: Pass
  • Type of region: Hypsographic
  • Longitude:78.75
  • Latitude:31.81667
  • Longitude (DMS): 78° 45' 0 E
  • Latitude (DMS): 31° 49' 0 N
On India’s side, the Shipki La Pass is 15,000 foot tall.

Trade between India and China at Shipki Pass

The two Asian giants (India and China) have been attempting to revitalize trade associations with the Shipki La Pass and other similar passes in the Himalayas to what it was before the conflict in 1962.

Indian merchants sell rice, wheat flour, coffee, dry fruits, pulses, jaggery, spices and herbs. From China’s side, shoes, woollen jackets, dishware, silk, and electronic appliances are purchased.

Trade on the Shipki La Pass was re-established in 1993 after being shut in 1962 after Chinese attack. Trade has also been badly affected by flash floods.

The Government of India has specified commodities for exporting like garments, pulses, edible oils, vegetables, tea, sugar, barley, milk powder, dry fruit, rice, tinned food, herbs, agro-chemicals, household implements, spices, cigarettes, sewing machines, carpets and radios.

Pashmina shawls, sheep, shoes, china clay, jackets, cutlery, horses, and yaks are among the imported commodities.

From last year (2010), the Border Roads Organization (BRO) has been constructing a drivable way from the Indian side to join the tall pass.

Last Updated on 02 February 2011