Published On: May 20, 2018 08:32 AM NPT By: Rohit Rai

Amaha Simsar, a potential hub for eco-tourism

Amaha Simsar, a potential hub for eco-tourism

Nestled in Barahachhetra Municipality of eastern Sunsari district, Amaha Simsar has become a popular destination for internal tourists these days. The whole area of the Simsar (wetland) extends to 52 hectares.

Here you can see a picturesque pond, Amaha Pokhari, spanning over an area of one and half hectares, located in between the Amaha community forest and human settlement.

There was a time when the condition of the pond had deteriorated to such an extent that it was about to disappear altogether. However, the locals and the community forest group joined hands about four years ago, and gave a new life to the pond. Now, both the locals and the forest group officials are happy to see the fruit of their efforts – visitors coming to the place to enjoy the exquisite pond and natural wonders of the Simsar area.

The place is gradually earning a reputation as a hub of eco-tourism.  As a result, the government is paying some attention to this place these days. The Department of Irrigation is about to implement an irrigation project in the fertile lands surrounding the pond.

Besides conserving the Simsar, the Amaha community forest group is also promoting the prospects of eco-tourism here. The locals are supporting the efforts of the group. According to consultant and former chairman of the group, Lila Mani Jimi, their main objective is to conserve the biodiversity of the wetland area and also promote internal tourism here. 

“We are more focused on the development of touristic infrastructure which will not only help to increase the income of the forest group, but will also support the livelihoods of the local people,” he said. 

In an effort to promote tourism in the wetland area, the forest group had organized a three-day-long tourism fair last month.

The locals and the forest group had invested more than Rs. 2.8 million to revive the charm of the Amaha pond in 2014, while the District Forest Office had only given Rs. 200,000 for the purpose. The locals raised the money in loans, which they are yet to pay back. However, they are pleased when they see tourists coming to Amaha for boating and picnic. They are excited to see visitors attracted by the natural surroundings of Amaha pond and the wetland area. 

Most of the visitor coming here are from Dharan. “They came here for picnic and also enjoy the natural beauty of the place,” said Bhoj Raj Rilli Ghale, chairperson of community forest group. “Visitors come in droves on Saturday and special occasions. On an average, 150 to 200 visitors come here every day.”

The forest group has provided two fiber swan boats and three wooden boats at the pond for visitors. The visitors have to buy tickets for boating. New hotels and shops are opening up around this place. One attraction for visitors is the Amaha Devi Thaan (goddess temple) that is nestled in the island in the middle of the pond. There is a popular belief that the visitor’s wish will be granted after visiting the temple. 

  “If more tourists come here, it will help to generate economic activities in the village,” Ghale said.
After the pond was renovated, various species of birds have started coming here, according to the villagers. The forest group has also made a master plan for development of eco-tourism in the area. 

“We are yearning to make Amaha an ideal tourist destination of Province 1. Indeed, we are planning to add infrastructure here,” said Ghale. The locals are also set to make a children’s park and another pond inside the Amaha Simsar. They are building statues of chimpanzee, crocodile, dolphin and many other animals around the Amaha pond and surrounding forest. 

Due to lack of budget, the plans of building a botanical garden, decorating the beetle-shaped island, constructing suspension bridge over the pond, and adding facilities of fishing for the visitors are in limbo. 


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