Lhakpa Quendren

As the summer heat intensifies, the once-promising Ki-Nyam Leisure Park along the picturesque Gelephu-Sarpang highway lies dormant, engulfed in overgrown bushes and marred by piles of trash. What was envisioned as a vibrant hub of recreation now stands as a stark reminder of missed opportunities.

Spanning an impressive 13.72 acres, the park boasts six canopies strategically placed to provide respite from the scorching sun. However, these structures, once meant to welcome visitors seeking leisure and relaxation, now sit hidden beneath a thick layer of vegetation. Disappointed tourists, except for the occasional travellers stopping for a quick lunch, have all but abandoned the park.

Yeshi Tshomo, a resident of nearby Jigmeling, expresses her disappointment with the current state of affairs. “Given its convenient location, it is overcrowded during the winter but remains under-utilised in summer,” she says. Tshomo believes the park should be operational throughout the year to cater to visitors seeking year-round leisure activities.

Leki Dawa, a concerned resident of Gakiling Gewog, highlights the urgency of addressing the waste issue at the park. “Located along the highway, it is disheartening to witness the park engulfed in bushes and litter,” Dawa says. “Many people come here for picnics, gatherings, and other celebrations. Sometimes the space inside the park is insufficient, and visitors spill over into the surrounding areas. We need to take steps to make the park more functional.”

Regrettably, the efforts to manage and revitalise the park face significant challenges due to shortage of manpower. With only 18 workers available in the dzongkhag’s beautification sector, the limited resources hamper their ability to maintain the park adequately. 

Chimi Dorji, the environment officer of Sarpang, calls for responsible utilisation of public resources and expresses his concern about the lack of cooperation from both the public and travelers. Without their support, the task of keeping the parks clean and functional becomes even more daunting. “Initially, we installed waste bins in the park, but they quickly overflowed,” Dorji explains. “To address this issue, we decided to remove all waste bins from the park to prevent further overflow.”

Dorji also says that the reception point along the Sarpang-Tsirang highway, which was recently cleaned and whitewashed by the dzongkhag’s beautification team, was found damaged shortly afterward. Such incidents only amplify the challenges faced by park management and underscore the need for greater public awareness and cooperation.

The reduced footfall during the summer months could be attributed to the rainy season and the presence of mosquitoes, according to Dorji. “The park attracts numerous visitors during winter, particularly on weekends and special occasions. The dzongkhag administration makes an effort to clean the park and collect trash before blessed rainy days and Losar celebrations,” he adds.

Looking ahead, the dzongkhag administration has plans to enhance the appeal of the leisure parks in the upcoming fiscal year. Discussions are underway to establish a mani dhungkor and explore the possibility of transferring ownership of the parks to ensure more efficient management.

Interestingly, some locals have observed that Ki-Nyam Leisure Park has also become a popular dating spot for couples at night, adding a touch of romance to its otherwise bleak existence.

Established in mid-2020 with a government investment of Nu 1 million as part of the tourism flagship programme, Ki-Nyam Leisure Park was intended to be a shining example of recreational excellence. However, without proactive measures to address the current challenges and engage the public, this once-promising oasis of leisure risks becoming a mere footnote in the story of Sarpang’s tourism ambitions.