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Friendship Highway between Tibet and Nepal
Written on 23rd March 2017

The Friendship Highway is also known as the China-Nepal Highway, it is a 800 kilometres scenic route connecting the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, with the Chinese/Nepalese border at the Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge between Zhangmu and Kodari. It includes the westernmost part of China National Highway 318 (Shanghai-Zhangmu) and crosses three passes over 5,000m before dropping to 1,750m at the border.

From Lhasa, the Friendship Highway follows the Kyi Chu river for about 60 km up to the confluence with the Yarlung Tsangpo River (Brahmaputra) at Chushul. The main route continues along the Yarlung valley up to Shigatse, Tibet's second-largest city and formerly the home of the Panchen Lamas. A subsidiary branch crosses the Yarlung Tsangpo at Chushul and crosses the 4,800m high Gampa La, passes along turquoise Yamdrok Yutso lake before crossing the 5,045m high Karo La at the foot of Noijin Kangsang, and following downstream the Nyang Chu valley through Gyantse up to Shigatse.

From Shigatse, continuing west parallel to the Yarlung Tsangpo valley, the road passes Lhatse and forks just beyond at Chapu, where China National Highway 219 continues west and upriver, finally crossing the Brahmaputra/Indus divide near sacred Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, then on to Ali in Gar County.

From Chapu near Lhatse, the Friendship Highway maintains the Hwy 318 route number and turns southwest and crosses the main Brahmaputra-Ganges divide at Gyatso La (5,260m), the highest pass on the road. Descending 1,000 meters onto alluvial plains of the Bum-Chu, also known as the Arun river in Nepal, the highway passes near Shelkar (New Tingri) then through Old Tingri, both gateways to Rongbuk Monastery and the north side of Mount Everest.

Continuing southwest, the highway climbs over Lalung La (5,050m/16,570') and crosses shortly after the Tong La (also known as Thong La, Yakri Shung La or Yakrushong La) (5,150m/16,900'), which marks the water divide between the Bum-Chu / Arun and the (Matsang Tsangpo / Sun Kosi) rivers. The Friendship Highway then descends along the Matsang Tsangpo through Nyalam, then more steeply through a canyon to Zhangmu. The road ends at the Friendship Bridge on the China-Nepal border at a mere 1,750m/5,740' elevation. The continuation of the road between the border town of Kodari to Kathmandu is named Arniko Rajmarg.

Scenery along the highway features important cultural monuments, the upper valley of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River, vast grasslands and meadows, and mountain vistas including five of the world's highest peaks: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma as well as partially unexplored and unclimbed peaks east of Tong La reaching 7,367 meters at Labuche Kang.

Quake-hit China-Nepal highway cleared.png

                                                                                   Quake-hit China-Nepal highway cleared

Rescuers celebrate after they cleared a blocked highway linking Tibet and Nepal in Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, May 1, 2015. The Chinese side of a key highway linking Tibet and Nepal was cleared of obstructions on Friday morning, six days after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake in Nepal caused landslides that blocked the major trade and tourist route.

NYALAM, May 1 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese side of a pivotal highway linking Tibet and Nepal was cleared of obstructions Friday, six days after an 8.1-Magnitude earthquake in Nepal caused landslides that blocked the road.

The last of the landslide debris was cleared at a section between Zham Town and the China-Nepal border Friendship Bridge at around midday, said Song Xiaodong, an armed police officer who led 165 soldiers to join the road work with local workers.

He said most of the workers toiled from 6 a.m. till midnight, hoping to reopen the road as soon as possible in order to accelerate rescue work and delivery of relief supplies.

The quake that shook Nepal on Saturday has claimed more than 6,000 lives in the Himalayan country. In southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the tremor took 25 tolls, devastated two major border towns and caused landslides and avalanches that blocked local roads.

When Xinhua reporters trekked into Zham town on Sunday, they saw the 3-km road from Nyalam county seat to Zham town was blocked with huge rocks, tree trunks and sludge that were washed down in more than 30 landslides and mud-flows.

Road work in Tibet began immediately after the quake.

On Thursday, traffic resumed on the highway between Nyalam County and Zham Town, part of the China-Nepal highway, allowing residents to be evacuated from the town, which was threatened by constant aftershocks and landslides.

The China-Nepal highway is a scenic route connecting Tibet's capital Lhasa and Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. It was built in 1965.