Steamer service on Kali Gandaki attracting touristsIntroduction of a steamer service on the Kali Gandaki river has been able to attract a large number of tourists and help bring down the prices of daily essential commodities in the region.
Introduction of a steamer service on the Kali Gandaki river has been able to attract a large number of tourists and help bring down the prices of daily essential commodities in the region.
Kali Gandaki Water Transport Entrepreneur Committee operates a wooden boat fitted with a truck engine on a lake formed in the river after Mirmi Hydropower Project built a dam.
The service was halted during the monsoon due to strong water current, but was brought back into operation from Wednesday.
Prem Aryal, a local businessmen, said the steamer service was originally launched with the sole purpose of promoting the region as a tourist destination. “However, it
has not only been able to attract a huge number of visitors, but has also helped make goods transportation easier and cheaper,” he said. “Cost of transporting goods on the boat is lower than that on motor vehicles,” said Aryal.
The streamer plys between Mirmi dam to Setibeni of Gulmi and Syangja (7km), 15-20 times a day, benefiting the people from more than 30 VDCs of Syangja, Gulmi, Baglung and Parbat districts.
“Travelling on the steamer gives an amazing experience to tourists. Riding on a boat on the river that flows through a gorge between two huge mountains is enthralling,” said Shovakhar Tiwari, a hotel operator at Setibeni. “It has also given boost to the local market.”
Locals said the wooden steamer is “a unique innovation” which is not available in any other part of the country. “One can enjoy a 45-minute, 7-km boat-ride paying just Rs100,” said Mukti Ram Pandey, a technician at Kali Gandaki Hydropower Project. “Currently, a majority of the tourists are students coming for educational tours. Around 400 students from nearby colleges and schools visit the site daily.”
According to locals, the streamer also comes in handy in difficult times such as medical emergency.