Butwal and Palpa to be linked by cable car by mid-MarchLumbini Cable Car has built the system at a cost of Rs1.5 billion. It also plans to spend Rs3.5 billion on a new five-star hotel on the hilltop of Basantapur.
Sightseers will be able to ride the cable car from Butwal, Rupandehi to Basantapur, Palpa by mid-March.
The Lumbini Cable Car line connecting Butwal on the edge of the Tarai plains with Basantapur in the scenic hills in the north climbs more than 700 metres in 2.5 km.
The facility is expected to attract domestic thrill seekers and visitors from India, and give a fillip to tourism and the local economy, say officials.
Lumbini Cable Car has built the system at a cost of Rs1.5 billion. It also plans to spend Rs3.5 billion on a new five-star hotel on the hilltop of Basantapur, company chairman Chandra Prasad Dhakal told the Post.
“We plan to start construction work on the hotel after the cable car service comes into operation.”
According to Dhakal, they plan to establish cable car systems in all seven provinces, and have completed two so far in Bagmati and Lumbini provinces.
Work on the construction of Lumbini Cable Car began a year ago.
The bottom station of the cable car line at Golpark in Butwal is situated at an elevation of 214 metres from sea level, and the top station in Basantapur lies at a height of 930 metres, said project manager Gokul Saud.
“We started the project a year ago.”
The Lumbini Cable Car system has nine pillars and 25 gondolas, each with a capacity to carry eight passengers.
“The journey from the bottom to the top station will take about 10 minutes,” said Saud. “The facility has a capacity to carry 600 people per hour from the bottom station to the top station.”
While the bottom station has been built on public land leased for 25 years, the plot at the top station, on which the company plans to build hotels and other infrastructure, is a private property, according to Saud.
Installation work has been completed on eight out of the nine towers.
“While the installation of equipment at the top station has been completed, work is going on at the bottom station,” said Saud.
Tourism entrepreneurs in the region say the cable car project will not only help the residents of Butwal to escape the scorching summer heat but attract more Indian visitors as well.
“The construction of the cable car service is good news for tourism entrepreneurs in the area,” said Anjan Shrestha, general secretary of the Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) Lumbini Chapter. “We hope the facility will attract visitors from neighbouring districts in Nepal and from India too.”
Development activities have been booming in Bhairahawa. The once sleepy market town in the Tarai plains was thrust on to the international stage after becoming the gateway to the pilgrimage destination of Lumbini.
Proliferating factories and a rapidly spreading transportation network have turned Bhairahawa into an economic powerhouse.
Lumbini, which attracts international pilgrims as the birthplace of the Buddha, has observed the construction of large-scale infrastructure including a bevy of luxury hotels after talks about the construction of an international airport began in 2010.
Dil Bahadur Darlami, a farmer at Basantapur, hopes that the cable car facility will create more employment opportunities for locals in the coming days.
“Some locals have been employed at the project,” said Darlami. “I hope there will be more job opportunities once it comes into operation.”
Dev Paudel, from Gadda, a neighbouring village to Basantapur, seconded Darlami, adding, “It has been a long-awaited project. The facility will provide a market for local produce,” said Paudel. “However, the concerned authorities must start planning to prevent overcrowding, pollution as well as other environmental issues that might arise in the coming days.”
Before opening to the public, the company will make dry runs for two weeks. Besides the five-star hotel, there will be temples, parks and restaurants at the top station at Basantapur.
“As per the basic plan, the 10-storey hotel will have 150 rooms, swimming pools, banquet halls and a casino,” according to Saud.
“The old temple in the area is being renovated and a new one is being constructed,” said Saud. “The restaurants will serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines.”
The company also plans to add infrastructure for adventure sports such as zip line, wall climbing and swing in the coming days. The ticket price for visitors has not been fixed yet.
Along with the Lumbini Cable Car, the IME Group has been constructing Maula Kali Cable Car at Gaindakot in Nawalpur district of Gandaki province.
“We have been carrying out the two cable car projects simultaneously,” said Saud. “The civil works at Maula Kali Cable Car have been completed, and the installation of stations is going on.”
The 1.2-km line connects Gaindakot with Maula Kalika, a famous Hindu temple situated at an elevation of 561 metres.
“The Rs2 billion project has six towers and 12 gondolas,” said Saud.
“Both Lumbini and Maula Kali cable cars will probably start operations on the same day,” said Dhakal.
Sanju Paudel in Butwal and Madhav Aryal in Palpa contributed reporting.