Ngari Gunsa Airport serves the town of Shiquanhe in Ngari Prefecture, located in the southwest of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region near the Indian border. The airport is both a military and public airport that begun its operations on July 1, 2010, making it the fourth civil airport in Tibet after Lhasa, Nyingchi, and Qamdo airports. Elevated at 4,274 metres above sea level, Ngari Gunsa Airport is deemed as the fourth highest airport in the world, after Daocheng Yading Airport in Sichuan province in China, Qamdo Bamda Airport in Tibet, and Kangding Airport in the western Sichuan Province in China. Ngari Gunsa Airport has a runway with an asphalt surface that stretches 4,500 metres or 14,764 feet. Built in May 2007 at an estimated cost of 1.65 billion yuan, or 241.22 million US dollars, Ngari Gunsa Airport is expected to handle at most 120,000 passengers come 2020, helping to boost tourism most especially to the holy sites in Tibet.
The town of Shiquanhe actually takes it from the name of the river, which in turn is located at the confluence of the Indus and Gar River. Shiquanhe takes on many names. In Tibetan, it is called Sênggêzangbo. Historically, Shiquanhe is also known as Ger, but following the customs of the Chinese county seats, it is best to call it Gar. Meanwhile in English, the town is called as Ali, as many guidebooks name the town. As of 2008, Shiquanhe is home to about 20,000 inhabitants. Shiquanhe is also home to a number of primary schools and a secondary school.
Given this, no sight of attraction has been established for Shiquanhe yet. However, you can opt to explore other cities. Darchen, which is approximately 330km away from Shiquanhe, situated just north of Lake Manasarovar, is a small village in Purang County that contains a number of restaurants and hotels such as the Ganges guesthouse and restaurant and the Zhusu guesthouse next door. The village of Darchen was previously known as Lhara which serves as an important sheep station for nomads and their flocks. It has two permanent buildings, but only one was able to withstand the Cultural Revolution that occurred from 1966 until 1976. If you are going here for pilgrimage purposes, you should secure a travel permit and have it stamped by authorities; and should you want to continue trekking your way to Mount Kailash, you should buy a ticket as well. Take heed that pilgrims only eat vegetarian food in the region with its proximity to the Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash. Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash are considered holy sites in Tibet, with the former deemed as the freshwater lake in Tibet at a relatively high elevation of 4,590 metres, and the latter considered as the peak in the Kailas Range, and considered a sacred place in four religions such as Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
How to get around within Shiquanhe
With the opening of Shigatse Peace Airport last October 2010, coupled with the aforementioned four airports and its accessibility to the Qinghai-Tibet railway, reaching Shiquanhe in order to reach the holy sites of Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash is easy. However, you should make pre-arrangements prior to your arrival to ensure a hassle-free journey.
How to get to Shiquanghe
To get into Shiquanghe, you should fly into the Ngari Gunsa Airport. The airport is being served by airlines such as China Eastern Airlines and Tibet Airlines, which fly to and from destinations such as Kashgar and Lhasa.
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