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Picture-perfect village after CM click

- Home stays and tents set up at Lamahatta near Darjeeling to woo tourists

Lamahatta (Darjeeling), Nov. 8: The small hill village that chief minister Mamata Banerjee clicked on her iPad has become a tourist spot eight months after.

On March 1, Mamata had crossed Lamahatta on the way from Darjeeling to Kalimpong and had gone click, click at this forest village.

From April the forest and tourism departments worked in the village with residents. Lamahatta now has four home stays and five tourist tents now. Also a trekking trail up to a lake nearby. A park has also been made

Lamahatta is 23km from Darjeeling.

“We were taken by surprise by her sudden stop in the area. There were talks that she would promote eco-tourism in the area, an idea we villagers had nourished for decades. The forest department started the work on developing the village as a tourist spot on April 30 and we are now ready to welcome tourists,” said Tashi Sherpa, an ex-serviceman-turned farmer and an executive member of the forest protection committee.

The home stays have been set up at the houses of farmers Sonam Wangi Dukpa, Sujata Chhetri and Chandra Chhetri, besides Sherpa. The tents are erected on the land owned by Tashi Dukpa and Pemba Tshering Sherpa.

“The forest officers have provided us with all building materials and labour to set up the home stays and tents. They have also supplied us with mattresses, bedsheets and pillows,” said Dukpa.

The foresters also developed trekking trails that lead to a lake on the top of a hill.

That is not all. All 140 houses lining up along the one-and-a-half-kilometre stretch of road at Lamahatta are being painted in the same colours.

From the forest area, one can get a view of the glistening Kanchenjungha, Tiger Hill, Namchi in Sikkim, Darjeeling town and the Rangit river.

The rates are nominal. While tourist can stay at home stays at Rs 1,000 for a day, excluding meals, the tents are available for Rs 2,000.

Sources said the owners of the home stays and tents would be given 50 per cent of the rent, 25 per cent of the revenue would go the state government. The 15 per cent of the rent will be used for the maintenance of the area and the remaining 10 per cent will be given to the forest protection committee.