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Entry charge for Char Dham

- Govt to issue fee list for South Sikkim hot spot

Gangtok, May 26: The state government has decided to charge an entry fee for tourists visiting Char Dham, a popular destination in South Sikkim.

Siddheshwar Dham at Namchi, better known as Char Dham, was built at Rs 56.51 crore and inaugurated in 2011. The entry to the spot was free.

“The decision (to charge entry fee) was taken in a cabinet meeting last week. Earlier, visitors did not have to pay money to enter Char Dham. The step is being taken to enhance revenue,” said a senior government official.

The fee hasn’t been fixed yet. Most tourist spots in Sikkim have entry fee.

The fee for Chhangu Lake and Baba Mandir (East district) together is Rs 10 per head, Nathu-la (East) is Rs 200 per head and Yumthang, Lachen and Lachung (North) together costs Rs 10 per vehicle.

The entry fee for Ban Jhakri Falls (East) is Rs 20 per head. One has to pay Rs 10 to see Khecheopalri Lake (West), Rs 50 to see Baresy Rhododendron Sanctuary (West), Rs 30 for Singhshor Bridge (West) and Rs 30 to see the statue of Guru Padmasambhava (South).

Tourism and civil aviation department secretary Chewang Zangpo said: “We will soon hold a meeting with the committee that looks after Char Dham. After discussions, we will come up with a fee chart. We will decide whether to charge vehicles at Char Dham at the meeting itself. Once the fee list is notified, we will start charging.”

The Dham has replicas of Badrinath, Jagannath, Rameshwaram and Dwaraka and the famous Pashupatinath temple of Nepal along with a 108ft tall statue of Lord Shiva.

“More than 1,000 tourists visit Char Dham every day during the peak tourist season,” said a police officer deployed at the tourist destination.

The entry to the Sai Temple near Char Dham is free.