The growth in the India rural tourism market in recent years means that many Indian villages have now found a place on the tourist map. Not only does it provide the villagers with a much needed additional source of income, visitors are able to interact with them and gain a rare insight into their way of life. Here are some unique ways of experiencing rural India.
Grassroutes has tied up with a couple of villages in Maharastra to offer three three unique experiences, depending on the time of year: The Story of Rice allows tourists to learn about and participate in the cultivation of rice and other village activities; Taare Zameen Par: Watch a Million Fireflies happens every June when the skies around hills of Western Ghats (Purushwadi village) light up with fire flies; A Trip to Warli Village is an excellent way to experience tribal India, with lessons about Warli art painting included.
2. Ecosphere Spiti: High Altitude Rural Tourism
The Spiti Valley is a lesser known alternative to Leh and Ladakh. Visits to Bhuddist monasteries, yak safaris, treks to villages, village homestays, and cultural performances are some of the posssible activities. Ecosphere Spiti, an award winning non-profit organization focused on conservation and responsible tourism, is highly involved in the community there and can make all travel arrangements. They also offer two week Volunteer Travel packages, involving a range of community initiatives.
India Untravelled offers a relaxing trip to an organic farm in rural Punjab, nestled in the foothills of the Shivalik range. You can do all kinds of activities from short treks to learning Punjabi cooking and visiting a Punjabi village. Volunteering on the farm is also possible. The harvest festival of Baisakhi
is an excellent occasion to celebrate there. Accommodations are provided in a traditional cottage or Swiss tents, all with western bathrooms.
4. Lakshman Sagar: Luxury Rural Tourism in Rajasthan
It is possible to explore rural India without sacrificing any comforts. The spectacular Lakhsman Sagar luxury hotel, which was once a royal hunting lodge, is perched on a ridge in the Pali district of Rajasthan. Its design has been inspired by the culture of the region, and numerous activities are offered that give guests an insight into the surrounding rural area. These include breakfast at a villager's home amongst the fields, horse safaris, village visits, exploring old forts, nature walks, and visits to local industry such as chili drying and wholesaling, and making of bricks by hand.
Culture Aangan is a Mumbai based organizations that's been pioneering rural homestays in India. Currently, they have to locations -- the Pali district of Rajasthan, and the Sindhudurg coastal region of Maharastra. The hometays are comfortable, attractively furnished, and built to western standards. A wide range of rural activities are offered as part of the packages.
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Looking to take the road less traveled in India? Travel Another India offer trips to lesser explored rural destinations. One of the most fascinating is the village of Hodka, near the edge of Gujarat's Rann of Kutch
white salt desert -- located as far west in India as you can go! The village specializes in the making of handicrafts, and visitors can watch artisans in action. Accommodations are provided in mud huts (with attached western bathrooms) or tents at Hodka's Village Resort, the Shaam-e-Sarhad (Sunset at the Border). It's owned and operated by the Village Tourism Committee of the people of Hodka village, and is set in breathtaking natural surroundings.
Explore Rural Tourism
Explore Rural India, an initiative of the India's government's tourism ministry, directs travellers to villages all over the country. What's really appealing is that you can search destinations by location, type of handicrafts produced, or other feature such as herbal medicine, crab farming and Deodar forests. There are dozens of options and circuits to choose from, or alternatively compile your own!
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One of India's Quirkiest Festivals, the Rural Olympics takes place in February every year at Kila Raipur in the Punjab. The highlight of the festival is an action packed bullock cart race. There are plenty of other competitions and off-beat events, as well as cultural events such as bhangra dancing and folk singers in the evenings.