KANYAM, Oct 22: Ilam's beauty is breathtaking even on an average day. And it grows by manifold when rain drenches the green hills of the district and dense fog starts to glide down the vast stretch of tea estates and opens them to blue sky. This is exactly the reason why Ilam is flooded with tourists these days.
“Though this is just the beginning of the tourist season, flow of tourists to our district is exciting,” said Kashi Sherpa, a hotel entrepreneur in Sandakpur, said. “Both domestic and international tourists are making their way to Ilam.”
It was heavily raining until last few days and later the town was covered by fog for many days. The fog acted as a barrier for some tourists but as soon as it started clearing out, tourists have started flocking here, she said. “As soon as the fog cleared out of the vast stretches of green tea estates and a little bit winter chill entered the town, tourists started flooding in. The arrival is so much that it's been very hard for us to cater to them.”
Kanyam, Antu, Sandakpur, Pashupatinagar, Maipokhari, Jaubari and Pathibhara are the major tourist destinations in Ilam. According to tourist entrepreneurs, these areas have already been fully booked by tourists.
“Tea gardens, mountains, hills, people's lifestyle and agriculture are our major tourist attractions. Apart from them, education and religious tourism has also been developing of lately,” Sherpa said. Over 200 tourists are visiting Sandakpur on a daily basis. The town is situated 3636 meters above the sea level.
Sherpa's hotel can accommodate a maximum of 50 guests. However, due to unprecedented influx of tourists, she has been accommodating way over than that in her hotel. “Our hotel caters to guests who are here for viewing the Himalayan range from Sandakpur. Though our normal accommodations arrangements is meant for 50 guests, presently we are catering to around 150 local and over 50 foreign guests every day. It's been a tremendous pressure,” she said.
Her hotel is the single hotel on the Nepal side and this is the reason for beyond-capacity arrival of guests. There are many hotels on the Indian side, but tourists favor to stay on the Nepal side. “Since we are the only hotel operating on this side, we have been receiving many guests. It really feels bad to disappoint and turn away our guests, but we are way beyond our capacity. There isn't any other hotel around too where we could refer them to.”
Sandakpur is only the place from where Mount Everest is visible. To take view of the world's tallest mountain, tourists flock here not only from Nepal but also from India, Bangladesh and other countries. Many foreigner tourists roaming around in the West Bengal of India but has not planned to drop in Nepal hardly miss the opportunity to view Mt Everest from Sandakpur.
“Sandakpur has great importance among mountain lovers. You will hardly find any tourists here who would not like to view the world's tallest mountain. If Indian tourists are not coming and staying in Nepal, they at least do not miss the chance to view Mount Everest from here,” Sherpa said.
Apart from Mt Everest, other mountain peaks including the Kanchanjangha on the Nepal side are visible from Sandakpur. Apart from them, this place also offers view of many Himalayan peaks in India and Bhutan. “This point is popular among mountain lovers as it offers view of over 3 dozens of Himalayan peaks. Apart from that, sunset and sunrises over the sky-touching Himalayan peaks are breathtaking,” she said. The place is reachable through a rough ride along 35 kms of countryside road from the district headquarters.
Sandakpur has great importance among mountain lovers. You will hardly find any tourists here who would not like to view the world's tallest mountain. If Indian tourists are not coming and staying in Nepal, they at least do not miss the chance to view Mount Everest from here.
n Kashi Sherpa, a hotel entrepreneur in Sandakpur
Another tourist destination of the district, Antudanda is also equally crowded. According to Dhan Kumar Ale, operator of a Home Stay service, clear sky and good weather in the last few days had drawn excess number of tourists to the town. “It's really very exciting to welcome so much of tourists. Weather around the town is at its best right now. Most of the tourists are nature lovers who are attracted to sunset and sunrise views offered by the place. Apart from that some tourists also come here to explore indigenous culture of the locals,” Ale said.
“We have been providing accommodations and meals to around 25 tourists. Though many have been coming requesting for availing ours services to them, we have been unable to respect their respect. We are well over our accommodation capacity,” he said informing that they have been charging Rs 500 per head per day for meals and stay.
Kanyam is also flocked by tourists like never before. Shudhir Rai, a local of Butwal stated that Kanyam is looking irresistibly beautiful post Dashain, which is the reason why tourists like him are thronging here. “It's great to be here at this time. Visitors will not forget the beauty of the town in their whole life,” while adding that hotel expenses around the town have been a bit costlier.
Shreejana Shrestha, who was in Kanyam on an educational tour, stated that she found the place incomparably thrilling. “I'm here for the first time. I feel like never going back, it's so beautiful here,” she exclaimed.
Keshab Dhaurali, executive director of Mechi Hilly Region Tourism Promotion Board, the unprecedented flow of tourist right at the beginning of the season has quite encouraged everyone involved in the tourism sector. “This is a very good sign and it has boosted the confidence of the whole sector.”