As the quaint town of Khaling seeks to evolve, locals rally for essential amenities amidst a backdrop of timeless charm and bustling commerce

Neten Dorji

Khaling—Nestled snugly between the towns of Trashigang and Samdrupjongkhar lies Khaling, a quaint village steeped in history and tradition.

Originally conceived as a pit stop for weary travelers in the late 1960s, Khaling has retained its old-world charm over the decades.

Today, this picturesque town boasts more than just nostalgia. With over 20 businesses thriving within its ancient walls, Khaling is a hive of activity, thanks to its strategic location along the 55km stretch between Trashigang and Samdrupjongkhar.

Travellers flock here for hearty meals and rejuvenating cups of tea, while a central school perched atop the town’s gentle slopes serves as a beacon of knowledge for the community, complemented by two more schools nestled below.

Yet, despite its undeniable allure, Khaling finds itself grappling with a lack of basic amenities. The absence of parking spaces, public toilets, proper drainage, and streetlights has cast a shadow over the town’s otherwise vibrant atmosphere.

Sushila Mongar, a spirited shopkeeper, is quick to highlight the pressing need for parking, citing the chaos caused by narrow roads and indiscriminate parking, which poses a significant risk to pedestrians, particularly the town’s young scholars.

Changa, a seasoned truck driver, echoes these sentiments, underscoring the safety hazards posed by congested streets and haphazard parking arrangements. Despite the challenges, drivers are often left with no choice but to wait for their turn amidst the hustle and bustle of mealtime traffic.

Tshering Yueden, another enterprising shopkeeper, emphasizes the urgency of investing in essential infrastructure, including public toilets and drainage systems, to alleviate the discomfort faced by travelers and residents alike.

Jambay, a thoughtful villager, sheds light on the struggles faced by visitors seeking restroom facilities, especially women, proposing the construction of temporary public toilets as a pragmatic solution.

Amidst the clamor for change, residents also raise concerns about faulty streetlights and the lack of emergency preparedness in the event of a disaster.

With old traditional houses and makeshift huts housing businesses and homes alike, the threat of a devastating fire looms large over the town, prompting calls for escape routes, sprinkler systems, and fire hydrants to safeguard lives and livelihoods.

In the midst of these challenges, Khaling Gup, Sonam Dorji, acknowledges the need for public amenities but underscores the importance of comprehensive town planning to ensure efficient resource allocation and sustainable development.

As the sun sets over Khaling, casting a golden glow upon its ancient streets, the town remains poised on the cusp of transformation, eager to embrace the promise of progress while preserving the timeless allure of its storied past.