Chandragiri cable car carries 20k visitors in first fortnight

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Aug 27, 2016-Chandragiri on the southwestern rim of the Kathmandu Valley has been a major trade route from ancient times, and until a motorable road was built in 1956, all travellers walked over the ridge to get into or out of the city. The foot trail connects Kathmandu with Chitlang in Makwanpur and continues on to the Indian border in the south.

In modern times, Chandragiri has emerged as an ideal hill station to escape the city rush, and now there’s a cable car to whisk fun seekers to the ridge top in comfort.

The cableway takes 9 to 14 minutes, depending on wind speed, to cover the 2.5-km distance from the terminal at Thankot at the foot of the hill. 

Chandragiri offers a breathtaking view of the Himalayan range and lush green forests. The hills are often blanketed in fog with chilling winds swirling up and over the 2,540-metre top. On a clear day, a row of Himalayan peaks extending from Annapurna in the west to Everest in the east can be enjoyed from the top.

“It’s a new tourism product which we have succeeded in launching after almost a decade of planning,” said Abhishek Bikram Shah, general manager of Chandragiri Hills. Within just two weeks after the soft opening, we have received more than 20,000 people who have experienced the cable car ride, he said. “We have targeted starting commercial operations before the Dashain festival. We have been receiving an average of 850 people daily, and the number is quite satisfying.” 

The cable car system consists of 38 gondolas that can carry 1,000 people per hour one way. The project is also constructing a tower which allows 360-degree views. There are a number of facilities yet to be completed at the top station.  

“After their completion, it will be a package of all products that will satisfy the needs of all people, from children to the young and old.” 

There will be a children’s amusement park, pilgrimage site at Bhaleshwor Mahadev Temple, view tower, boutique hotel, botanical garden, shops and a theatre. “Moreover, we have disabled-friendly infrastructure.”

The bottom station of the Rs4 billion Chandragiri cable car project is spread over 6 hectares. The project has leased 36 hectares of land from the government for 40 years at the top station. The project has been funded by a consortium of seven banks led by Citizens Bank. 

A one-way ticket costs Rs450 and a return ticket is priced at Rs700. Foreigners are charged $22 per person, while the price for Saarc nationals is IRs700. 

The project offers a 25 percent discount to students, locals and elderly people above 60 years of age. Likewise, a 50 percent discount is offered to differently-abled people. No money is charged for a child less than 3 feet tall.    

SAFETY MEASURES 

According to Shah, they have accorded the highest priority to ensure the safety of visitors. Some people were stranded in the cable car last week, but it was not due to a mechanical error, he said. 

“As per the standard operating procedure, we have to follow a certain practice, and during that time, the gondolas must stop for at least 4 minutes in the air,” he said. 

“This does not mean that a problem has occurred, it is the correct emergency procedure that we have to follow under the software driven system. However, some media reports unfortunately said that the system was interrupted for a long time which spread panic among potential visitors. It’s completely not true.”  

According to him, the gondolas are normally stopped midway in case of power cuts, high winds and even thunder and lightning. “We have an automatic power generator system, and switching to backup power takes 2-3 minutes.” 

Shah said that they had requested the government to provide a dedicated feeder for the project.

Published: 27-08-2016 08:46

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