Gangtok (Sikkim) [India], November 9 (ANI): The natural beauty of Sikkim has attracted a surge of tourists in the last decade, which has encouraged the government to try adding a new tourist destination- Jelep La Pass, the old silk route which passes between East Sikkim and Tibet.
Standing at an altitude of 14, 000 feet, over 60 kilometres away from the capital city Gangtok, the Jelep La Pass offers a bucketful of exciting tourist destinations blended with warm hospitality from the residents.
Since 2011, a couple of resorts have also started cropping up, thus boosting tourism as well as income of the locals.
"From the year 2011, residents of Zuluk and neighboring areas have come up with an innovative initiative and started providing home stays and resort facilities to the tourists; this has improved the livelihoods of the residents as well," Sebastian Pradhan, a resort owner said.
Pradhan informed that the labourers who built the road 62 years ago settled in the region after completing the project and are unable to find jobs since then. With the makeover of the region as a tourist spot, the population will significantly benefit.
"Earlier, the tourists used to come and go away the same day, because there were no proper arrangements for a stay. We started providing facilities for staying post 2011. We need a high altitude income every year so we purchase everything from Gangtok. We can save around Rs two lakh," said Pema Sharp, a resident who has started a home stay for tourists.
Tourism has opened more than one avenue for the residents to earn livelihood.
"We sell coffee and momos to earn a living, there are fewer tourists now, but there are many in the months of April to October. We have to live here and we earn the most during the tourist season," said another resident, Neema Bhutia.
The budding tourist destination, including the beautiful lakes, remains covered with snow from early winter to late spring, and is surrounded by a forest and interesting rock formations, which makes it worth visiting.
The Four Lake Point situated at an altitude of 13,600 feet towards the Menmecho Lake from Gangtok gives a panoramic view of the endless stretches of the barren Tibetan plateau and four emerald lakes dotting the horizon.
One can escape the hustle and bustle of city life by visiting the Jelep La pass this winter and enjoy the snow white covers of the mighty Nathang Valley. (ANI)