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Gangtok: In today’s time, what’s new left to be seen or discovered? Unless, of course, you are travelling in Sikkim. Of late, a hidden waterfall called the Bar Tshangay falls in Martam, some 23 kilometres from Gangtok is making quite a buzz.

The travel vlog shared a month ago by Mr Rai vlogs and Pratiksha Karki on YouTube created that buzz, something that the locals from the village had failed to promote.

Earlier this week, tourism stakeholders from the area led by Bikash Gadaily invited local media and the Tourism Department to the waterfall and identify the tourism potential it could have.

How to reach?

An hour’s drive from Gangtok takes you to Martam after crossing the famous Rumtek Monastery and the rice valley of Dhankutey, opposite Martam village. Matam village, otherwise famous only for its school, St. Joseph’s Convent, is a lost place with little to uplift the village youth.

From Martam village, you either opt for a 4 km hike through a fair-weather road connecting to Bar Tshangay ward, which is yet to see completion, having started in 2019. If that seems long, the alternative route would be through Ledong turning from the diversion before reaching St. Joseph’s School. The diversion road connecting to Sang Khola on NH 10, roughly 15 minutes of travel, would take you to Ledong, turning from where 20 minutes walk downhill would take you to the falls.

The other fair-weather road involves a downhill hike of almost 1 hour 20 minutes. The diversion route is preferred.

Speaking about the potential for tourism, stakeholder Bikash Gadaily, a native of Bar Tshangay village, recalled how the falls also is a place to immerse idols after Hindu rituals showcasing how the place can grow as a destination for pilgrimage too. As a stakeholder, he brings close to 50-60 groups in the tourist season to the falls. Elsewhere, the falls is popular among local tourists as well with 50 odd visiting the place every day. He stated, “I bring close to 50-60 groups of tourists here to the falls. Many are interested in staying back, the concept of foreign tourists is to stay here all day, study, birdwatching, do photography, and have breakfast looking at the waterfalls, which would be something interesting they believe. Taking their collective thoughts I feel this place has high tourism potential.”

Gadaily has seen the locals struggle in village up-close, he laments, “Something unfortunate here is, if you look for youth from this village you will find them in Kerala, Goa or even Ladakh later because there is a lack of opportunities. If someone gets sick at home, they will have to come back. When we have such facilities and tourism potential if the government helps us beautify this place, bringing 3-4 activities here, first and foremost our asset the youth would stay back in their villages.”

Apart from the youth, the Bar Tshangay village is marred by road connectivity, adding to its remoteness. “We are in a situation where our village doesn’t have a road, if a person gets sick, then the person will have to be carried from here to the connecting road uphill. Hence we need people as well as means to earn a livelihood, which can be provided by one of the most beautiful waterfalls,” shared Ward Panchayat Shanti Rasaily, who also highlighted the tourism potential and how the lack of roads has dampened the economic growth of the people.

Tourism Department’s Joint Secretary Marcus P Rai stated, “Road connectivity from Lebong Turning to Tshangay waterfalls, if done and repaired, the people here feel would be convenient for the tourists. The needed road connectivity is 1.5 km, which I have told the public that they must consult with the roads and bridges department concerning it. We will also apprise the department. From a tourism perspective, we have already seen that we are blessed with nature and camping sites, toilets, washrooms and a mountain biking trail. We shall focus on it, we will have an in-depth study. We will appraise the Minister for Tourism about this, especially mountain biking and adventure tourism, which is currently a hot topic, something that the government of India is also stressing. In 2022, adventure tourism would be promoted in Sikkim. We are blessed, and there is nothing new that needs to be added. We have given assurance, but we are in an embryo stage currently, working collectively to make this a tourism adventure spot here at Tshangay falls. We will promote and generate revenue. The locals can ensure their livelihood through it.”

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