Chitlang sizzles in new avatar as homestay spotChitlang, once a vibrant stop on the ancient trade route linking Kathmandu and India, now draws hordes of tourists in its modern avatar as a homestay destination.
Chitlang, once a vibrant stop on the ancient trade route linking Kathmandu and India, now draws hordes of tourists in its modern avatar as a homestay destination.
The growth in visitor arrivals has boosted homestay earnings. The monsoon is a busy tourist season in idyllic Chitlang.
Homestay operators in Thaha Municipality earn from Rs50,000 to Rs80,000 monthly. The construction of the Thankot-Chandragiri cable car has boosted tourism in Chitlang as sightseers usually like to hike from the cable car station at Chandragiri hilltop to Chitlang Valley. The growth in domestic and foreign visitor numbers has encouraged locals to expand homestay facilities.
Buddha Ratna Manandhar, operator of Gurjudhara Homestay at Chitlang, said that in the past, domestic and international tourists used to visit Chitlang only on Fridays by walking from Thankot. But now visitor numbers have increased and the trail is crowded with hikers every day. Sometimes, there are more tourists than can be accommodated in homestays, and they have to be put up in tents. In 2011, the former District Development Office Makwanpur helped to establish four homestays in Chitlang. Now the number has grown to a dozen. Six homestays will be added in the current fiscal year.
The number of homestays has been increasing with the rise in tourist arrivals, said Radha Krishna Basnet, coordinator of the Community Homestay Committee in Chitlang. Locals have been converting their homes into homestays, he said.
As demand for accommodation has been swelling, a few homestays have been upgraded to resorts. However, some operators are worried that upgrading homestays to resorts could undermine Chitlang’s reputation as a homestay destination.
Ram Krishna Basnet, operator of Kaji Homestay, said that there was a need to save the traditional hospitality system as, one day, all homestays could turn into resorts. Land prices in Chitlang have jumped sharply due to a resort construction boom.
The cable car has also led to a rise in the number of tourists coming for study and excursion, sightseeing and visiting Chitlang’s traditional monuments.
Chitlang lies 13 km from Kathmandu over the southern rim of the Valley. But travelling to Chitlang is difficult because the construction of the Chitlang-Thankot road has been progressing very slowly.
Mayor of Thaha Municipality Lavasher Bista said that once the road is completed, tourist numbers would jump drastically in Chitlang. “We have been requesting the Roads Department to expedite the construction,” he said.
The government has also announced the construction of a tunnel linking Thankot and Chitlang. With the construction of the tunnel, Chitlang could become a tourist hub.