The idea behind this Daily Dose of Uttarakhand (DDU) is to make you aware about those aspects of Uttarakhand which are normally overlooked by many.We try to bring those things in light which can motivate people,give them some food for thought and they can feel the “essence of Mitti” (माटी की सौंधी खुशबू) and get the picture of real Uttrakhand. You must have seen that nearly in every Uttarakhand centric site there is only one aspect of Uttarakhand and that is the its natural beauty BUT Uttarakhand is not only having natural beauty but you can also find the sheer hard work of its natives,the pain behind preserving the mother nature. In the complete portfolio of MeraPahad Dot Com sites you will feel all such issues apart from the natural beauty of Uttarakhand.
Yesterday we have told you about the Village Dairy Cooperative Movement in Uttarakhand for empowering women. Today we would tell about the Village Ways,a unique project for tourism.Village Ways is for developing a sustainable form of tourism that builds on local resources, which will not only benefit the tourists but also provide demonstrable, practical and positive economic and social uplift for the participating communities and will raise their awareness of environmental and social issues. This is a new model for responsible tourism. A team, from India and UK, combining rural tourism experts, rural development specialists and local communities has launched an innovative responsible tourism project in India, called Village Ways. This project is based in the wooded Binsar wildlife sanctuary/ It has funded the creation of authentic guest houses in each of five mountain villages and trained hill villagers to set up and manage walking holidays. Village Ways enabled the formation of responsible tourism committees in each village and is providing training for committee members in tourism business skills and environmental awareness as well as practical training including health and safety, catering and guiding. These committees have constructed and equipped the village guest houses financed by grants and loans from Village Ways.How it all get started. If you go through their site they say.
A young man working in a successful family hotel business in Binsar Sanctuary, worried for the future of the villages around, talks to friends from the UK with wide experience in rural development (in India and elsewhere) and in tourism. But what’s the best way forward? A development project of some sort? – funding is a problem, and anyway, is that really what’s needed? The villagers love their hills, but they’re being driven out by lack of economic opportunity: their deep knowledge of Kumaon and their traditional skills are in danger of being gradually wasted and so lost.
They are people of tradition and warm hospitality. It’s such a beautiful area. Why not let others share it? Let people from the cities of India and elsewhere come to stay, walk through the beautiful hills, marvel at the views of the great Himalaya, experience village life and customs? And why bother with outside funding? – let’s just get on with it, put our own money in, get the villages to invest too with land and labour, be part of a very special rural tourism venture that is for their own benefit.
But will the villagers want to invite strangers into their lives? And what about the practicalities of housing these visitors, guiding them, feeding them? Village committees meet, talks begin, plans and budgets are mulled over – will anything ever really happen?
And then suddenly, we’re off! Plots are found, land cleared, building starts, training is underway. Village Ways, with its special blend of professional development expertise, local and international tourist knowledge, and all the skills, enthusiasm and energy of the villagers, is up and running.
In the months of December,2008, times online has covered the story of Village Ways,when Steve Keenan has visited this place and wrote about his experience.
"The five villages didn’t even know each other – but once everybody came on board and started building guesthouses, it was the villagers who suggested how better it could work. Now there is a committee of two people from each village who meet once a month.
"It has become a business for everyone – the guides, Village Ways and the villages. It is not an NGO, it is a commercial thing that works – the whole thing is a family, it is extraordinary and so emotional. I’ve got tears in my eyes now." And he has.
He writes about his experience.
The villagers provide the food for guests, making their own chapatis and growing vegetables, with other food brought in from the local town. Winter wheat and millet for chapatis is grown locally, and grass for animal feed. I saw capsicums, cabbages, potatoes, lemons, peaches and apricots growing. One village opened its books to me to show purchases of apples, onions (2kg – 20 rupees), refined oil from the village.
Village ways also got the award for best place to stay. The Times newspaper and Times Online have run a competition based on Green Tourism. Candidates were nominated by Times readers. Village Ways was nominated by one of the Guests who visited Village Ways in March 2008. Village Ways was selected as one of six finalists in the category ‘Green places, Best Places to Stay, Worldwide’. The editor of Times Online visited Village Ways in October to judge credentials. On December 2nd, They were awarded 1st Prize in the category.
This shows that if we have a will we can find the ways and means to be there in Uttarakhand and develop a sustainable commercial project. Hem Upadhyay – Hemu or Barra Hem – is a 25 year old who attained 11th Class at school but was unable to go to college. He had to earn money to support his family, who live in Dalar village. Initially he worked as a day labourer in Delhi but, disliking city life, he managed to get a job at Grand Oak Manor Hotel, Binsar. Then, in 2006, he joined Village Ways as a Guide. He says “Now I can live at home and look after my family. He explains: I also have a chance to learn about birds and plants and meet new people.”
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