By Amar Raj Naharki Tanahun, July 21: Ainapahara Waterfall has recently become a new viral destination for myriads of travel enthusiasts. After getting stuck inside their homes for an extended period of time following the second wave of COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions, the waterfall located within the Aabu Khaireni Rural Municipality has proved to be a much-needed escape for hordes of vacation-deprived people. Incessant rainfall for the last few days has intensified the force of the waterfall. Hundreds of passengers riding along the Prithvi Highway flock to Ainapahara, which lies in the Muglin-Aabu Khaireni stretch of the highway. The site is currently crowded with vehicles competing for suitable parking spots. Visitors spend a good deal of time beneath the waterfall, taking pictures, creating contents for TikTok, and bathing in the fresh cold water. Rising temperatures have also made the waterfall a go-to destination, especially for residents of Gorkha and Chitwan districts. Fresh water from the Mahabharata Range flows across steep hills, valleys and forests to join the Siudi River before making the vertical drop from the foothills of Chimkeshwori, the highest point of Tanahun. “The cold water acts as a respite in this heat. It instantaneously rejuvenates even the most wearisome traveller,” said Sharmila Gurung of Aabu Khaireni, a frequenter at the waterfall. Thulimaya Tamang, who runs a restaurant alongside the national highway just a few paces away from the waterfall, is overwhelmed by the sudden surge of traffic. “On weekends, we have as many as 9,000 visitors while on working days that number drops to 7,000,” informed Tamang, visibly enthused about the lucrative business prospect brought about by the waterfall’s popularity. Once a humble site, the place has erupted into a burgeoning tourist destination. However, the area surrounding the waterfall is ill-prepared to cater to an increasing number of visitors. The road is narrow to accommodate vehicles, observed Khachin Khadka, who came to Aabu Khaireni all the way from Sita Paila, Kathmandu. “The waterfall is beautiful. If only we can develop adequate infrastructure, the place can be promoted as a number one destination within the Municipality,” he added. Given its rising popularity, the local level has also woken up to Ainapahara’s potential. “We are working towards developing the site as a refresh station,” informed Bishnu Prasad Pokharel, Chief Administration Officer at the Municipality Office. The authorities have also allocated Rs. 5 million to build public toilets, parking lots, railings, and eateries around the waterfall area.