Entrepreneurs have been increasingly attracted to establishing hotels in locations surrounding Pokhara due to a sharp rise in the number of visitors. Flourishing eco-tourism has also encouraged families to operate homestay accommodation.
Bal Singh Gurung, a retired Indian Army official, has opened a guesthouse in Sikles village, 39 kilometres from Pokhara. While his contemporaries have rushed to the cities to enjoy their retirement, Gurung said he chose to operate a guesthouse to keep himself occupied.
Likewise, many local people have been running guesthouses in Sikles. The scenic village with its traditional slate-roof houses attract many domestic visitors. Besides, the area is also popular for good hospitality. Gurung said he saw a lot of potential for promoting tourism there.
There are five hotels and a similar number of home stays in the area. Sikles is also popular for its panoramic views of the Annapurna range.
“Both domestic and foreign visitors like to experience traditional Gurung culture, observe the Ghatu dance and be close to nature,” said Dal Bahadur Gurung, a local. “We have now planned to promote the area as a model village,” he said.
An increasing number of schools have been bringing their students to Sikles for educational tours which has encouraged hotel owners. Hem Bahadur Ranabhat, principal of Kalika Boarding School, Kaski, said they visited the place as a field observation. “The area is unique due to its organic and cultural lifestyle,” said Ranabhat, promising to visit the place again in the future.
Likewise, Prem Thapa from Matepani, Pokhara said he had visited the place multiple times. According to him, the place’s proximity to the Himalaya was the main attraction.
Devi Jung Gurung, chairman of the Sikles Youth Club, said the local museum set against a backdrop of the Himalaya, cultural dances and the possibility of observing avalanches were key attractions for visitors.
Swelling tourist arrivals have also led to the construction of roads connecting the region with other areas. Dhak Bahadur Bhujel, officiating chief of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, said the road network had helped to increase the flow of visitors.
“Following the construction of roads, many students have also been coming for educational tours, apart from visitors who come to spend their holidays.”
Jeep services to the village started five years ago while buses appeared three years ago. The museum that has opened here has also won the hearts of sightseers.
Sikles village is also the gateway to Kapuche Glacier Lake, a natural attraction situated at a low altitude. Kholasothar, a popular ancestral place of the Gurung community, is situated near Sikles.
Bhim Raj Gurung, chairman of local Annapurna Secondary School said the speedy development of infrastructure was taking place due to an increase in the number of thrill seekers.
Source: The Kathmandu Post