By Prem Adhikari, Ilam, Dec. 13: Suryodaya Municipality in Ilam district has brought boat service into operation in Antu Pond, a popular tourist destination.
The boat operation, which had gone out of business for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been reopened from the municipality’s own initiative.
In the past, the tourists who came to see sunrise used to ride boats in the pond, a service operated by the locals. But now, the municipality has stepped in to bring the service into operation.
Ran Bahadur Rai, Mayor of the municipality, informed that they had bought three boats to operate there.
Mayor Rai said, “Tourists were frustrated by the long absence of boat operation. But as the operation has been restarted, not only has the revenue from the boat gone up, tourists have been able to enjoy the service to the fullest as well,” he added.
After seeing the sunrise, the tourists reaching Antu have another choice of taking a boat ride. The municipality has stated that more boats will be added to the pond if needed to meet the rising demand.
The city is also working on the infrastructure development of Antu Danda as well as the pond. Tourists flock to Antu especially on Fridays and Saturdays to watch the sunrise from the hill from November to December.
Chudamani Baral, branch officer of the municipality, said that the municipality was collecting revenue of up to Rs 100,000 in a single day on Saturdays.
The municipality has been charging Rs. 50 per person for the boat ride and additional Rs. 50 to reach Antu Danda to enjoy the sunrise view.
Rudra Ghimire, a local homestay operator, said that tourists like to take pictures while admiring the picturesque scenery of the tea plantations around the pond.
Antu Danda has been considered one of the best destinations in the country for sunrise viewing.