Talkharkha village – an emerging ecotourism destination

Gangtok, 26 Sept:

Talkharkha village, a remote village in East Sikkim, has embraced ecotourism. It is about one hour’s drive from Rangpo and the village is blessed with natural beauty and biodiversity. There are 9 homestays in the village which have been welcoming tourists, both domestic and international, since last year. In the past, the village was aloof from the rest of the world but with the operation of homestays, it has joined the mainstream of tourism. There are many livelihood activities undertaken by the villagers like bee keeping, bird watching and poultry farming. The village is surrounded by a rich biodiversity and covered with a lush green forest cover. It was only recently when road connectivity was improved that the village took to tourism on a larger scale. There are around 25 households in the village scattered along the hillside, offering spectacular views of the surrounding ridges of Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary. Several exotic flora and fauna including Red Panda are found in the sanctuary. Walk off the grid, exchange stories with people you meet, get to know a new culture, eat homegrown delicacies and make new memories, all that while you get closer to Mother Nature, says the villagers. A promotion awareness programme for the villagers of Talkharkha was held on Wednesday. Speaking to SummitTIMESduring the programme, ZillaPanchayat, TulmanRai, Regu-PremlakhaSubani, informed that nine homestays in the village have been officially registered with the State Tourism department through WWF India.

“This has proved to be a boon to the people of Talkharkha,” he said. Asked about the response from tourists, MrRai said tourists from Germany had also visited our village and they were enchanted by the natural green environment, cleanliness and hospitality of Talkharkha.

“We charge Rs. 1200 per head and provide complimentary food.However, we have got a major problem of phone network connectivity and because of this we are unable to do online booking. We are trying to get online booking from Rangpo and Gangtok,” he said. Different kinds of training programmes for Talkharkha villagers are being done by the WWF-India and the donors, ICICI Foundation. The road connectivity to the village was deplorable but since August 2017, the road condition has improved. Panchayat President, Regu GPU, Chujachen constituency, Shiva Kumar Rai, said the villagers are motivated and aim to take forward homestay tourism in a big way.

“We are also grateful to the WWF India, donors [ICICI Foundation] for their strong support and contribution to develop this remote village through ecotourism,” he said. During the program, ICICI Foundation, representatives from WWF India, Kanchenjunga landscape Sikkim, team leader PriyadarshiniShrestha, Landscape Coordinator WWF India, LakTshedenTheengh, ACF Territorial, Rongli Sub Division, BS Tamang, CEO ECOSS, RajendraPsdGurung, Forest department, general public had also attended the promotion awareness program. Some traditional dances were presented by the local villagers.