Untimely snowfall in Sandakphu causes major dent in tourism


The untimely heavy snowfall at Sandakphu — the highest point of Bengal and a global tourist hotspot, has caused a major dent in tourism. With the festive season rush tourists are making a beeline for the Hills but the road from Beekay Bhanjyang to Sandakphu still remains out of bounds for vehicles with around 3 feet of snow, reported Millennium Post.  

While Nepal has cleared the snow from the road on the Nepal side, the Indian road still remains blocked. The local residents and the Singhalila Land Rover Owners Association have decided to approach the PWD and the Forest department so that similar steps are taken by them like their counterparts in Nepal. 

Sandakphu, located at an altitude of 3636 m, offers breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga and is a famous sunrise viewing spot. On March 21, about 40 tourists were evacuated from Sandakphu by the Singhalila Land Rover Owners Association (SLROA), SSB and hoteliers, added the news story by Millenium Post. 

On March 23, the SLROA members tried to clear the snow from the 3 km stretch from Beekaybhanjyang to Sandakphu but it was an impossible task with more than 3 feet of snow.

“Nepal has pressed earth moving equipment and cleared the road on their side. However, no such attempt is being made by the PWD or the Forest departments on the Indian side. We will approach the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration also. We tried manually but did not succeed.

We plan to give a memorandum to both these departments. Forest department charges Rs 200 per person visiting Sandakphu and Rs 500 per vehicle, so it is their duty to ensure that the road is open. Hundreds of tourists are approaching us with the urge to visit Sandakphu,” stated Chandan Pradhan, president, SLROA. On Sunday, around 120 tourists went up but could not reach Sandakphu. 

“With great difficulty we managed to take them till Beekay Bhanjyang and Chaurichowk, where they enjoyed the snow. They will be staying at Kalapokhri (27 km from Manebhanjan) or at Tumling (13 km from Manebhanjan) where there are better facilities,” added Pradhan. He stated that families of the 120 vehicles, hotels and lodges depend on tourists.

“With the Holi and Easter holidays, if we can’t ferry tourists to Sandakphu, it will be a major loss for us. During the years of Covid, we suffered huge losses and just when things began to look up, we are back to square one,” lamented Pradhan, urging the PWD, Forest and GTA to take immediate steps. With roads being closed goods are also in short supply. There is scarcity of water and snow is being melted to be used as water. 

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