Sikkim’s tourism department plans to bring in more development in the tourism sector around the twin lakes- Noonthalay-Jorpokhari located at 9,314 feet above sea level in West Sikkim.

Sikkim officials said tourist so far are not aware of the beautiful lakes located under a reserved forest called Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, a two-and-a-half-hour trekking route.

Local people believe that the two lakes are a couple, with the upper lake, which is bigger in size, being the husband, and the other smaller one the wife.

Residents of Noonthalay also believe that these two lakes are holy. Locals here offer prayers (puja) on some special occasions and maintain the lakes.

They have recently built a small Hindu temple between the two natural water bodies. “Tourists who frequent Sikkim don’t know about the twin lakes, while they are aware of another holy lake, Khaoedpelri, and visit it from Pelling. Since the Sikkim tourism department can make a place for religious tourism here, Noonthalay-Jorpokhari may be popular some. Tourists interested in trekking may come here,” said a local.

Addressing the closing ceremony of the five-day Rhododendron Tourism Festival at Noonthalay, Sikkim’s Food and Supplies minister NK Subba, who is also in-charge of promoting tourism in West Sikkim, said: “We will bring in tourism development based on Noonthalay and Jorpokhari lakes. A team of journalists is on Monday surveying the spot. Necessary steps will be taken following their observations.”

“Photographs of the Noonthalay Rhododendron Tourism Festival and the lakes will be displayed in a tourism exhibition, which will be held in the near future,” the minister added. A local resident LK Basnet said the area is a perfect holiday place.

“Only people who are fortunate reach here. We believe that the two natural lakes are husband and wife. Tourists have never been here. If the state takes proper initiatives, the tourism industry will develop here,” he said.

On the other hand, Sikkim’s minister for Public Works (Roads and Bridges), Garjaman Gurung, appreciated the proactive role of Mr Subba for bringing development in the region.

Addressing the programme, Mr Gurung, said: “Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has brought development in many sectors, including organic cultivation. If people demand a road here, the CM will grant it soon.”

The festival committee, meanwhile, felicitated coordinator of the Association of Conservation and Tourism (ACT), Raj Basu, during the closing ceremony on Monday.

Mr Basu proposed the development of road connectivity and communication and urged state officials to build a road where homestays are coming up.

He also suggested bringing all Rhododendron Homestays in a network by introducing a mobile phone App for their development.

He further suggested a new Mountain Bike Trail from Khandu Noonthalay to Jorpokhari with an objective to expand the area by connecting another existing route from Kaluk to Pelling.

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