Chandragiri Hills drawing domestic and foreign tourists
The Chandragiri Hills, which carries a historic and religious importance, has been the main attraction to both domestic and foreign tourists lately. Situated southwest of Kathmandu, the federal capital of the country, seven kilometres away from Thankot, Kathmandu, the tourist destination serves as a perfect fit for touristic, religious and recreational activities, also making an ideal spot for those who want to take a rest and enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The 2,551 metres-high natural heaven is surrounded by the wilderness with the eye-catching views of the Himalaya mountain ranges in the background. A majestic view of Mount Everest, and the Kathmandu Valley, neighbouring Dhading, Nuwakot and Makawanpur districts is something that will entice people and tourists alike. Apart from being a major choice for the people who want to organise any meeting, seminar, assembly and any musical programmes, it also serves as a stop for those visiting the Kathmandu Valley for recreational activities like a cable car ride, and for those who are keen in religion and history for a research and a study.
Besides, the area is also home to one of the most important Hindu temples, the Bhaleshwor Mahadev, which is believed to possess wish-granting powers. It has its historical significance as well. Going by a history, Prithvi Narayan Shah, King from the Shah dynasty, a unifier of the modern Nepal took a first glimpse of the present Kathmandu Valley (then known as Nepal Khalto), which in fact instilled in his mind an idea to annex the Valley into his kingdom. He is also believed to have got spiritual powers for the unification process after undergoing a ‘sadhana’ (meditation) here. He is told of having disguised himself while ascending the hills so as to avoid being recognised by the Malla Kings of the Kathmandu Valley. So, in his honour, his statue has been erected in the hills.
The statue has been a main attraction to anyone visiting here. Visiting people pose with it for a photograph. Bhaleshwor Temple, the statue of Prithvi Narayan Shah, ziplines, a Children Park, a horse ride, the Chandragiri Hills resort, and shopping marts are among other attractions to the hills. It is believed that the Bhaleshwor Mahadev temple was built here after the incarnation of god Mahadev manifested. The temple has received increasing number of pilgrims from home and neighbouring India. A cable car network is a new addition to the beauty of the hills. Constructed by the Chandragiri Hills Limited, the cable car came into operation commercially on 16 December, 2016.
Following this, inflow of tourists, domestic and foreign, has been high, said the Chandragiri Hills finance chief Binayak Pokharel. One of the options for tourists to reach the hills is a trekking route. The trekking route leading to the hills is in existence since long, and tourists visiting the hills still take this route, he said. The cable car is operational seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm. Over 71,100 tourists took a cable car ride in a single one month (mid-December, 2022 to mid-January, 2023), he said. It charges Rs 799 for a Nepali citizen for a round trip, and Rs 600 for a Nepali student. Similarly, USD 22 is charged for a foreign citizen.
Manufactured byDoppelmayr/Garaventa Group, an international manufacturer of ropeways and people movers for ski areas, urban transport, amusement parks, and material handling systems based in Austria, the cable car is a gondola lift transportation system. The 2.46 km line runs from Thankot to the Chandragiri Hills. It with two stations consists of 38 gondolas that can carry 1,000 people per hour. It has also three gondolas that carry goods. Each gondola carries eight persons at a time. In general, it takes 9 to 14 minutes to reach the top of the hills from the Thankot station. Over 2,000 people took a cable car ride on a regular day, and the figure rose to 4,500 and 5,000 on a holiday.
The hills received the total 507,411 domestic tourists, and 63,344 foreign tourists including from the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries in the previous fiscal year, 2021/22, Pokharel said. There are two ziplines (100 meters and 200 meters) into operation in the area since one year, thus contributing to attract increasing number of tourists, he said. A 100 meters zipline was constructed at the cost of Rs 7 million. The zipline aims to attract both domestic and foreign tourists alike, said the Chandragiri Hills General Manager Sanjib Thapa. The 100 meters zipline spans from near the Bhaleshwor Temple to the children park. It charges Rs 400 each person for a 100 meters zipline ride, and Rs 800 for a 200 meters ride.
It aims to develop the hill as an ‘integrated tourist destination’ and deliver superior product and services by empowering our customers, stakeholders and society as a whole, said Thapa. “We have built various physical infrastructures with the policy of promoting domestic and foreign tourism,” he said. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic did not spare the cable car service as well. The number of tourists, both domestic and foreign, visiting the hills sharply dropped during the years when the virus took its toll, he said. But this year when the infection has almost subsided, there is a silver lining for the company. The inflow of tourists has been gradually on track, he said. The hills also run a resort here.
The resort has served as a spot for tourists who want to take rest and let go their tiredness away from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. It has also managed halls for organising national and international seminars, meeting, conferences and gatherings, he said, adding that the country’s governmental and non-governmental organisations held programmes here. [Translated by Pritam Bhattarai]