TOURISM: Swimming, latest fad – Hills stream down to kalimpong pools

TOURISM: Swimming, latest fad – Hills stream down to kalimpong pools – no other news, not that Bengal wants printed ?!!

The swimming pool at Pudung - indefinite strike on so lets languish in the 'pool of hope' that a political solution will come soon ?!! (Photo by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY RAJEEV RAVIDAS

Kalimpong, June 18: Kalimpong is fast emerging as the swimming centre of the hills with two commercial pools coming up in and around town in the past five years and another one on the verge of opening.

In the process, more hill people are making a beeline for the pools to learn swimming.

Swimming and cycling are two exercises that the majority of the people in the hills do not get to do, thanks to the climatic condition and the mountainous terrain.

The hills did not have a swimming pool for the common people till Dinod Sharma, an enterprising man, set up one in 2005 in his native village, Pudung, about 10km from here.

Darjeeling and Kurseong still do not have swimming pools open for the common man.

After Sharma’s Dab Swimming Pool, another one, though small, has come up in Kalimpong, which is weather-wise much warmer than the other two hill towns, Darjeeling and Kurseong.

The second pool is at Raunock Guest House at 12th Mile. The tourism department of the DGHC has also set up a pool at Relli village, 11km from here, even though it is yet to be opened.

Both the pools are watered by natural springs through pipes. The owners claimed that the pools are cleaned daily, but refused to describe the process in details.

Even though the footfall at the two pools have come down a bit in the recent past, perhaps because of the political disturbances in the hills, there is no doubting the fact that they have become popular weekend destinations for people not only from Kalimpong, but also from Darjeeling, Kurseong and neighbouring Sikkim.

“My clients are mostly from the hills and Sikkim. Tourists come occasionally,” said Sharma whose pool needs 80,000 gallons of water.

The pools charge between Rs 50 and Rs 70 per person a day. Both the pools also serve local delicacies at reasonable rates.

“The pool at Pudung with its rural ambience is a nice place to relax and spend a day with family. Whenever I am in Kalimpong, I try to take out time to chill out there,” said Rajesh Pandey, a lawyer from Darjeeling.

Others visit the place just for a swim. “All members of my family of four learned to swim in these two pools. In fact, many in my circle of friends took their first dip in the two pools. Many people are now able to learn such a wonderful form of exercise like swimming,” said Navin Tamang, a Kalimpong resident.

None of the two pools, however, have any trainers, only “helpers”. (and no life guards too – an accident waiting to happen ?!!)

When the footballers of the Calcutta giant Mohun Bagan had held their pre-season training here last year, they had done the swimming part of their fitness routine at Pudung. “The swimming pool is excellent. Our boys loved it,” Anjan Mitra, the club’s secretary, had told The Telegraph then.

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