Lhakpa Quendren 

Gelephu—Gelephu residents are thrilled with the prospects of spending more time outdoors as the thromde recently opened a recreational park and a walking trail in the border town. 

The recreational park located within the main town draws people seeking leisure and photography spots, including the regional tourists. People say the place has enhanced the town’s aesthetics and has space for relaxation. They are seen enjoying pleasant walks towards the evening.

A resident, Rinchen Dorji, said that in the past, Gelephu lacked recreational centres, but now, the park has become an essential place for people seeking respite from the heat. 

Gelephu Thrompon Tshering Norbu said that the recreational centres are deemed crucial for residents to engage in during their free hours. “It is encouraging to see local residents and tourists enjoy these parks.”

Gelephu Thromde Park was inaugurated in December 2022

Green spaces are an essential component of any healthy, livable city. A 2021 study revealed that under the business-as-usual scenario, prediction analysis for the year 2050 shows that built-up area could consume 73.21 percent of the city area in Bhutan.

The park has a water fountain with a colour-changing effect, a large LED screen, public washrooms, two spacious canopies adorned with steel railings, and a lighting system lining the concrete pathways, among others. 

The campus is enclosed by a metal fence and a footpath has been constructed over the drainage system.

Urging the public to use the facilities responsibly, Tshering Norbu said, it is the collective responsibility of the users to ensure sustainability of these infrastructure. 

“We are challenged by shortage of human resources and budget for continued monitoring,” he said.

The park also has a small cafe offering freshly squeezed juice. The daily income amounts to about Nu 300. But there are not many buyers yet. 

The walking trail along the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway in Samdrupling provides an ideal destination for morning and evening walks. This circular trail spans 1.6 kilometers with a width of four metres of concrete footpath on 60 acres of teak trees.

Residents say that the trail witnesses increased visitors during the winter. They say the shade and air provided by the large teak trees attract visitors escaping from the scorching heat.

However, overgrown weeds along the trail have discouraged families with their children from using the facility due to the fear of encountering snakes. 

The recent heavy rainfall also caused erosion of gravel along the trail.

“It is important to create a safer environment for users. More people would be encouraged to use the facility if it is maintained well,” says a resident.

Another resident, Lhamo, said that the installation of a lighting system on the trail would encourage nighttime walks, which is a preferred choice for many. 

The thrompon said that the thromde administration plans to enhance the trail with additional amenities such as a lighting system to facilitate nighttime walks and exercises, and the establishment of public toilets, and water facilities. “The facility is effectively used by people from different age groups.”

The thromde spent a total of Nu 12.2 million for the development of the park—Nu 9.6 million for structure development, Nu 1.6 million for an LED screen, and an additional Nu 1 million for campus lighting and water fountain installation. 

The trail was developed at Nu 10 million.