BAGLUNG, Sept 30: The number of tourists has increased at Kalika Temple, a famous religious destination of the Gandaki Province, thanks to the establishment of a wildlife conservation park around the temple.
According to Raju Khadka, chairperson of Kalika Bhagwati Guthi Management Committee, increase in the number of animals after the beginning of establishment of the park in the temple vicinity has helped in attracting other tourists as well.
"Start of wildlife conservation park has attracted many people here," he said, "Previously, mostly pilgrims used to come here to worship but these days other tourists also visit the place to see wild animals."
Fauna including kalij pheasant, deer, leopard, squirrel, monkey, rabbit and owl can be seen in the surroundings of the temple these days. The forest spanning over 190 ropanis of land around the temple is being converted into the wildlife park. Currently, two deer and a dozen rabbits are kept around the temple and other animals are left in the jungle.
"We have kept barbed wires to protect the wildlife. Now kalij pheasants easily enter the surroundings of the temple," Khadka said. "There are many people who are here to see their variety."
According to Khadka, the barbed wires are put to conserve deer. "Deer are in the conservation area, so tourists who arrive here can see them anytime," he added.
"The surrounding of temple is slowly converting into a mini zoo, and it has increased number of tourists. The suitable environment has helped to keep wildlife conserved," said Nishan Khadka, member of temple management committee.
District Forest Office has released one eagle and three owls in the forest. "Previously, people used to come here only to worship," he said.
"Wildlife can be seen in surroundings of temple now, and more people are coming these days to see these animals and birds."
Nishan said that the committee was also planning to conserve leopards within barbed wires. "There is also increase in number of birds due to the establishment of the park. Wildlife is also being brought to the place from other areas," he added. "Birds and animals that are not found here are being brought from other places. We provide protection to the animals and birds."
The Ministry of Forests and Environment, Kalika Temple Guthi Committee, and Baglung Municipality have collaborated to develop the wildlife park around the temple. They have also started forestation program to make the surroundings green. Coconut, jack fruit, pine, and other trees are planted on the way to the temple.