The Sikkim state government will in the next few days introduce bus services for tourists wishing to go to the Chhangu (Tsomgo) Lake and Baba Mandir, two prominent destinations in eastern part of the state close to the Sino-Indian border.
The government, sources said, has instructed officials of the Sikkim Nationalised Transport (SNT) — the state-run transport authority — to start running ordinary and luxury buses from state capital Gangtok to both these destinations.
Both these places are located some 40km to 45km from Gangtok.
Over the past few weeks, as the footfall of tourists increased in the Himalayan state, allegations have also cropped up that a section of commercial cab drivers are overcharging tourists to take them on a round trip to these two sought-after places.
“There were reports that some cabs were charging as high as Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 for a trip when the usual rate should be almost one-third of it. The state had earlier acted against such people and is monitoring the situation now. Meanwhile, it has been decided to start the bus service so that tourists can visit these places at a reasonable cost,” said a source, adding that the fares would be fixed soon.
The plan is to put ordinary buses with 27, 35 and 40 seats and luxury buses with 19, 27 and 32 seats on the route. “The buses will take tourists to Chhangu (Tsomgo) Lake and Baba Mandir. It will be a round trip. Tourists can halt there for some hours and return,” the source added.
Bus to Kathmandu
The North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) has decided to start a bus service between Siliguri and Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
From Siliguri, Kathmandu is around 485km away.
“A pair of air-conditioned buses with 40 seats will be introduced. This will become the first such initiative by any state-run transport corporation of Bengal. Initially, the service will be available thrice a week but if response is good, the number of days and buses will go up,” said Partha Pratim Roy, the NBSTC chairman.
As of now, a private bus service is available from Siliguri to Kathmandu.
“We are reviewing the cost so that fares can be fixed. Our officers are also in touch with authorities of Nepal to obtain necessary permission for the service. We intend to start it next month,” Roy added.