The Jamunkhadi Simsar, also known as the Jamunkhadi Wetlands, is a wetland conservation project in Eastern Nepal at Kankai municipality in Jhapa District. It is growing as a popular local tourism spot and can be easily reached as it is just a kilometer away from the East-West highway. This region has a community forest which is about 25 hectares and the wetland occupies about 40% of the total area (10 hectares). Previously, this wetland comprised of two historical ponds named after the rivers Ganges (Ganga) & Jamuna. However, due to lack of conservation in the area, the Ganga Pond doesn’t exist at present and special initiatives have been taken for the protection and conservation of Jamuna pond.
This wetland is rich in biodiversity housing various indigenous plants, trees, birds and animals. The zoo that houses python snake, porcupine, vulture, Chinese rats, etc. that are considered rare in this world is one of the major attractions here. Other animals that can be found in this wetland are tortoise, jackal, monkey, fox, wild pig, deer, and many such animals that can be found on the inbuilt mini zoo. Similarly, there are also a variety of indigenous and migratory birds that can be found here. Jamuna is a beautiful pond where one can enjoy recreational activities such as boating and fishing. All of the boats are pedaled by the passengers themselves, not by the boatmen. For around half an hour of water surfing, Rs 30 is charged. In Jamunkhadi pond, there are a total of seven similar boats can be used for boating. Jamunkhadi is also extremely rich in tree species such as Sal, sisau, horra, amala that make up the major portion of the forest. Overall, the wonderful features here in Jamunkhadi include, wetland area, rare animals and birds, boating, forest scenario, open lane picnic site, and Chulachuli and several other beautifully designed statues. Jamunkhadi wetland is mostly visited by local people as well as visitors from Indian cities such as Darjeeling, Sikkim, etc.
After this place was classified into wetlands, it has been growing into a tourism hub by the mutual cooperation and understanding of the local people as well as concerned authorities. Parshuram Giri is the present chairman of the Jamunkhadi Development Committee that has been constantly giving all its efforts for the betterment and development of this wetland into a major national tourism spot. The entry ticket for this wetland cost Nrs 20 which is very reasonable for the local people. Paid parking service for all types of vehicles is also available here. The Jamunkhadi Development Committee has further added natural deer park, children’s fun park and playground and an open natural picnic spot inside the wetland premises. The picnic site is busy starting in November and continues until May, since many picnic programs are held during this time.
The locals have made plans and strategies to build man-made structures for the enhancement of physical and natural beauty including restrooms, guest houses and drinking water for the tourists. The Jamunkhadi development committee also plans to create small artificial man-made hills and planting various plants and trees in such hills to increase the natural beauty of the wetland.For the proper development of the spot, the local tourism agency has requested assistance from several ministries, tourism boards, and provincial government. Conservation of biodiversity, development of eco-tourism, development of regional tourism, creation of job opportunities for local youths, uplift of rural livelihood, and making the group “an example of the nation in prosperity through collective local efforts” are the goals of CFUG (Community Forest User Group) in developing the spot as a tourist destination.If managed & maintained in a systematic manner, the Jamunkhadi wetland area will undoubtedly expand as a national and international level tourist destination.
-Article written by: Ujjwal Bhetwal for Land Nepal