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British-era 'water canal tunnel' used for ferrying forest logs to turn tourist spot

Pithoragarh: Part of a 2km-long British-era water canal tunnel, which once connected Tanakpur with Boom (one of the banks of Sarda river) and was used for transporting wooden logs, will be opened up for tourism by the Champawat administration. A district administration team that visited the spot on Sunday said it is "ideal to be turned into a tourist spot." Speaking to us about the intended initiative, Champawat sub-divisional magistrate Himanshu Kafaltia said, "It is a marvelous piece of civil engineering. Boom is 7km away from Tanakpur through the Purnagiri road but only 2km through the tunnel. We are getting a project report prepared and will send it to the state tourism department for approval."
Around 100 years ago, in the absence of roads, chopped wooden logs cut by the forest department would be ferried from Pithoragarh and Champawat to as far west as Nepal via the tunnel. The logs would be passed through the tunnel and reach Tanakpur, which was one of the biggest timber depots during the British era. The canal used to have gushing waters of the Sarda river and an adequate slope, which helped the logs travel without any manual assistance.
The Sarda river eventually changed its course, and the tunnel became dry and gradually filled with muck. Now, there are two villages atop it, Gandakhali and Uchhaligoth, that have sprawling farmlands where villagers cultivate crops. "The tunnel was operational approximately between 1920 and 1970," said Ajay Rawat, a local historian. "The British constructed these types of canals for transporting logs on the Sarda driver to the Tanakpur depot and on the Kosi river at Garampani to collect the logs at Kathgodam," he added.

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