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Cable car service offers escape from city life, stunning mountain vistas in Kathmandu

Nov 18 2016 | 11:26 am

Kathmandu: With 4 million residents of Kathmandu struggling to find open spaces to relax and refresh inside the city, the surrounding hills are become a favorite hotspot to escape the hullaballoo.

cable-carThe opening of Nepal’s second cable car service at the Chandragiri Hill station on the southwestern rim of the Kathmandu Valley has provided the opportunity for city dwellers to escape the din and ride to a ridge at the top of the hill in relative comfort.

Before the operation of the cable car service, the hill station was a popular destination for hiking along with other hills surrounding the valley.

Chandragiri Hill, which stands at 2,551 meters above the sea level, offers a breathtaking panorama of the Himalayan range and its lush green forests, and visitors can enjoy a splendid view of most of the Kathmandu valley.

On a clear day, a row of Himalayan peaks extending from Mt. Annapurna in the west to Mt. Everest in the east can be viewed from the top, with the mountains often blanketed in fog propelled by swirling winds.

Renu Shrestha Bajgai and Sabita Bhandari, two friends from Kathmandu, made their first trip recently to the top of the hill on the cable car, which came into operation about three months ago.

“There aren’t many places to visit with family and friends inside the city and I found the Chandragiri Hill to be a perfect place to come with children,” said Bajgain, a social worker.

On top of the hill there’s a fun park, a temple and restaurants, all of which cater to both fun lovers and pilgrims.

Chandragiri Hills Limited, the company that brought the cable car service into operation, also plans to construct a viewing tower, hotel, botanical garden, shops and a theater on top of the hill, to attract more visitors.

“Another advantage of coming to this hill is that we can spend a whole day here and return to Kathmandu city on the same day,” said Bhandari, a government employee. The hill is located just 16 km away from the center of Kathmandu.

Following the operation of the cable car service, the hill has not only attracted visitors from Kathamndu valley but also from other parts of the country, as well as a small number of travelers from overseas.

Ganga Devi Adhikari and Jaya Prasad Adhikari, an elderly couple, who came to the capital from Nepal’s south-eastern district of Morang, visited the hill along with their daughter and son-in-law.

Ganga Devi who had never taken a cable car before, said of the experience, “It’s like flying on a plane.”

Nepal’s first cable car service, the Manakamana Cable Car, located in the western Gorkha district, has been attracting huge crowds since it went into operation in 1998.

Large numbers of pilgrims frequently visit one of the most famous religious shrines called Manakamana located at the top of hill using the cable car.

The new cable car service at Chandragiri, however, attracts a range of visitors including those just looking to enjoy a day out, and has been attracting a large number of visitors since the opening of the service.

Chandra Dhakal, chairman of IME Group, under which Chandragiri Hill Limited operates, said that about 150,000 people have already used the cable car in the last three months.

“On weekends, around 6,000-7,000 people ride the cable cars in a single day,” he told Xinhua.

The cable car system consists of 38 gondolas that can carry 1,000 people per hour one way.

The operation of the cable car has also supported the local economy, with restaurants opening near the base of the cable car station targeting the visitors.

The company, which has invested over 35 million U.S. dollars for the project aims to recoup its investment within the next eight years.

The company set up the cable car infrastructure on the hill by leasing the land from the government for 40 years and has plans to develop Chandragiri as an important tourism destination for both Nepalese and foreign tourists.

“We are going to open a luxury five star hotel where international summits and seminars can be held, along with a number of other facilities,” said Dhakal.

Although the main target customers of this cable car service are the residents of Kathmandu Valley, the company also plans to promote the destination within the country and internationally.

“We have already started the groundwork to include Chandragiri as one of the key destinations for foreign tourists to visit in Nepal Tourism Board’s promotional material,” said Dhakal.

After the successful launch of the cable car service on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, the company said that it has already identified two other locations to develop similar services.

“We are also exploring the possibility of attracting foreign investment to promote the new projects under a joint venture,” said Dhakal.

Panipokhari

Kathmandu, Nepal

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