Village Getaways

#1 Mar 11th, 2014, 00:32
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#1
Here is a link of village getaways, located far off the beaten trail.

http://villagegetaways.in/downloads/brochure.pdf

www.villagegetaways.in
#2 Mar 11th, 2014, 01:17
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Originally Posted by karikor View Post Here is a link of village getaways, located far off the beaten trail.

http://villagegetaways.in/downloads/brochure.pdf

www.villagegetaways.in
In case anybody doesn't realise it is possible to take Indian village breaks in states other than Meghalaya.

Last month we spent 4 wonderful days at this place in Orissa. http://www.chandoorisai.com/.

You can read more about it on our blog. http://radinja4.blogspot.co.uk/2014/...doori-sai.html

The train journey up the Araku valley to get there is superb.
Last edited by Dave W; Mar 13th, 2014 at 23:54.. Reason: typo
#3 Mar 11th, 2014, 11:59
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@ Dave W

Very nice links. I was also fortunate enough to have traversed the length and breadth of Orrisa for 2 years. In these two years I was able to visit 15 districts. Most of which were located in the Red Corridor. The districts of Koraput, Bolangir, Mayurbhanj, Malkangiri, Deogarh etc offer a different taste of Orissa from the popular Bhubaneswar & Puri circuit. So having experienced myself, I know that Orissa has a lot to offer.
Anyway, what I was amazed when I was in the deep interiors of Orissa was the fact that there were some similarities in the customs of the Tribals in Orissa with us the Khasis and Jaintias in Meghalaya. I have always read in scientic articles that we the Khasis and Jaintias of Meghalaya were anthropogenicaly related to the Santhals & Mundas of the Orissa, Jharkhand belt since we belong to the Austric group of races. It did not mean much to me then, considering that we are geographically located in the north -east of India where every tribe other than the Khasis & Jaintias were of the Mongoloid race. So I presumed we were also mongoloid, till I went into some reading. Now what shook me most while I was in Orissa was the fact that while I was in a remote village in Koraput, I saw in the centre of the village a whole group of monoliths planted by the village. Now monoliths are something that I have grew up seeing. They are located all over the Khasi & Jaintia hills as it is a custom amongst us to keep monoliths. Now when, I asked what were the monoliths doing in the middle of the village, they told me that the remains of their ancestors are kept there and the monoliths are in remembrance of them. Now how similar can that get, we do the same thing.

Anyway Dave W, I know by your cheeky remarks that you do not appreciate my work here at IndiaMike. I spend hours researching on things that I feel will help members here in Indiamike and post them here. I know many out there are interested and I am making Indiamike that platform. A 'mike' in the collocial language out here, is a public addressal system. I do not want travellers to be cheated by touts and agents in the city and so I put whatever information I have out here. Many want to come here but need help. and there are many more who have not even heard the name. And many have benefitted from my efforts. So my posts are for such people.

Now you may say, then stick to the Meghalaya forum. Well firstly few know where Meghalaya is. So I am using the other forums to reach out to a wider audience. And I know there is nothing wrong with that, since I can see other threads related to other parts of india also on these forums.

And then you may say, why this drive and push to promote Meghalaya? You are from Scotland, I guess, maybe Edinburg or Glasgow, whatever, are you not proud of your city or village? Now why I am trying to promote my own state is because I love it and I want others to also experience it. Second part is that in this state, the education level is high however there are very few avenues for employment. Most of the youth are becoming frustrated and are getting into militancy.

Seeing this trend, efforts are being made by the Tourism Department and Cooperative Department to address this issue by converting the tourism potential in the state into actual success stories. Infrastructure like rest houses and guest houses have been constructed by the department and the youth in these villages are being trained and organised into cooperative societies to run them. Now my point, public money has been spent, taxes collected from individuals in Delhi or madras has been made into a rural tourism place in a remote place like Mawlyngbna. If the place is not being utilised, then the hard earned taxes paid by an Indian is going down the drain. Secondly and most importantly, if places like these do not function, then I seriously fear for the future of the youth and the state as a whole. The youth will go into the jungles and whatever tourism that is there now, will be shredded into pieces. Reminiscence of the time when Kashmir was a no no for tourist.

I agree with you, India is a huge place with so much of potential every where, i wont debate on that with you, and by the way I really love your links as well.I am just putting information out here for members to see. You may also do the same. So why un-necessarily take pot shots at me.
#4 Mar 11th, 2014, 12:29
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Originally Posted by karikor View Post Anyway Dave W, I know by your cheeky remarks that you do not appreciate my work here at IndiaMike.
That's nonsense. I was merely trying to put some balance into the thread. Hopefully others will contribute information about village experiences elsewhere in India.
#5 Mar 11th, 2014, 13:40
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#5
There are villages all over India where you may find that "getaway" experience. Having visited Chandoori Sai in Koraput area of Odisha last year, I agree with Dave. I have also visited the villages of Meghalaya. Actually, all of the tribal areas of India, from the Andamans to the high Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh, will furnish an equally original trip far from the overcrowded 'metros'.

I am hard pushed to choose between a visit to Mechuka (Arunachal Pradesh), Wakching (Mon province, Nagaland), Goudagudi (Odisha). All of these offer amazing off-the-beaten track trips.
#6 Mar 12th, 2014, 02:17
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First, I'm not having a pop at anyone here, just giving an opinion.

I've never quite liked the idea of arranged village getaways, it's a personal thing, and difficult to explain, it's the 'arranged' part that doesn't sit right, for example, if something happens in the village, was it arranged for tourists or was it natural?

I'm not suggesting that this is the way the tours happen, or that some village tour companies are not more culturally sensitive than others, and I don't speak from experience either, I've only been on 1 village tour and enjoyed it (more later). (oops, just remembered a 2nd, see later)

On my 2nd. trip to India I stayed in a upper mid budget hotel in Jaisalmer, and the evening entertainment was provided by 'village dancers', a group of women who, in my opinion, were dressed in clothes they didn't enjoy wearing, and doing a series of dances that they appeared not to enjoy, all watched by tourists thinking it was a wonderful cultural experience, I've never felt so uncomfortable, I really didn't enjoy any of it and had a few drinks with their 'manager', I tried to find out the name of the village, but he wouldn't say, I wanted to visit the village just to see if I was right, the man's English was that of someone with years of experience of speaking to foreigners, but he wouldn't say how long they'd been performing this routine.

I first took my Mrs. to India (perhaps 9 years later) we had a few days at the Taj Kumarakom, they had a 'special Kerala dance experience', so we went to watch, I left with exactly the same feelings, glad to get away having felt uncomfortable.

Experiences like this can lead to a little mistrust when offered similar experiences, and sadly, adverts for 'the village experience' often have a lady with a 12 inch neck painfully stretched by brass bangles, or a man with a buffalo horn through his nose (excuse the English sarcasm), I feel uncomfortable seeing those adverts, and feel I wouldn't enjoy seeing it in real life, it's the kind of thing I couldn't stare at, and certainly could never photograph, it's almost as if it's some kind of human zoo.

This mistrust can ultimately shape a person's travel style, but it's worth mentioning that in those days I had a lot of time on each trip, this allows a person to turn down opportunities and wait for something that appeals more, many people have just 2 or 3 weeks for travel and this helps them to make decisions quicker, and try to get as many different experiences as they can in a shorter period of time.

It's also true that a completely arranged tour can appeal to many people, visiting villages on your own isn't as hard as many would imagine, but try telling that to a person who's never tried, it's a difficult thing to believe, if this is the case, the arranger can change things if need be.

The following is an explanation of how I ended up going off the tourist trail so often.



Thereís nothing like a good walk.

I can't remember what was the first village I visited, it's difficult, what is a village, what is a small town, what is a completely untouristy part of town, all offer the same experience to me, something purely India, something we sometimes feel we're not supposed to see, somewhere that never appears in the brochure, somewhere not used to seeing tourists.

The first time I ventured out on my own, and away from the tourist sites was in Madurai (read about it in the 2nd half of this link), it was a slightly scary experience, but as always in India, it ended with experiences that will never be forgotten.

To this day, walks in the 'wrong' direction are the biggest thrill for me, wherever I go, whatever the wonderful attractions, the walks almost always come first, it was my 3rd visit to Agra when I eventually saw the Taj Mahal, I remember the on the first visit that I crossed the railway lines just south of Agra Cant station and went for a walk down that road, and as always, it was amazing, and the day was gone before I knew it.

It was only half way through my 2nd trip to India that I was travelling alone, and free to do the things I wanted, the first thing I done was move from the Fort/Colaba area of Mumbai up to Grant Road, just to get experience of a different part of the city, whilst still being able to run back to Colaba if need be, I could write a book on the experiences along Grant road, they're a world away from Colaba, I stayed there 4 or 5 times over the years, and just loved the madness of it.

Wherever I went, I was going on walks everywhere, they were like a drug, no touts, and the only people who approached me were those who were interested in ME, I enjoyed all the attention, and it certainly helped me meet hundreds of people I'd never have seen at the tourist attractions.

I had one particular trip that really boosted my confidence, I'd planned to visit the North East and an indiamiker asked me to visit a colliery to take some photos of a place her father used to live, that sounded like heaven, visiting an out of the way place with a purpose, I ended up travelling from upper Assam to a village near Nadiad in Gujarat to play a joke on a friend, I really enjoyed that trip, here's an old quick/rough post about that trip.

Quote:
Day 1 - Arrived in Delhi, took 44-hour train journey to Guwahati (Assam), Drunk a bottle of Tequila and a bottle of Johnny Walker with a couple of Indian Soldiers and an Assamese man, great fun.

Day 3 - 6 - had 3 and a half days in Guwahati, stayed at an OK hotel, never went to see any tourist attractions, just walked around all day, met some lovely people, played pool for a few hours every night.

Day 7 - Took train to Lumding, The Chai place outside the station had just closed, I asked where I could find another, so they opened up again, took about 10 minutes to make me a Red chai (they had no milk), they charged me Rs1 for the chai, it was nice, sweet and had a bite to it, I think the bite was chilli powder, had another red chai, security warnings I had received seemed strange, I had my own private army, chatted with about 30 soldiers for a few hours, took overnight train to Silchar.

Day 8 - 9 - stayed in a basic, cheap (great VFM Rs170), place, though I could have done a wildlife programme about the occupants of the bathroom, I never went to see any of the tourist attractions, spent most of my time talking to truckers from various parts of the North-East, also met a group of locals and played pool whilst discussing the poor relations between Assamese people and the large number of Bengali's living in Assam. (I have details of the hotel)

Day 10 - Took the daytime train to Lumding, very scenic journey through the North Cachar hills, took the opportunity to ride on the roof for large parts of the journey, arrived at Lumding, went for a red chai, then went for a meal with a group of policemen, later I got talking to a train examiner, he has his own carriage with beds, a living room, cooking facilities and a bathroom, he asked me to join him on his next trip, (Guwahati - Jodhpur - Guwahati), nearly 6 days, I was tempted, but said no, took the overnight train to Margherita. (Upper Assam)

Day 11 - 12 - Disappointed that I couldn't have a Margarita in Margherita, I found a bus to Tipong Colliery, (that well known tourist attraction ), found it to be a very picturesque place, stayed in the guest house, had a good evening, in the morning I got to meet the Colliery manager, got permission for the photos I wanted to take, and was shown around the place by a very nice man from Delhi,(I have his details) he organises trips to see the working steam engines in the Colliery, though that wasn't the reason I was there.

I then went to Ledo to find out some information far an Indian rail map that a friend is making, then went to Digboi (got its name when the British oil bosses used to shout "DIG BOY to the local workers), got overcharged by the government hotel "because you tourist", and very pissed of that it always seemed to be raining (in March)

Day 13 - 15 - Took the train to Dibrugarh, Stayed in an awful hotel, by now I had give up on the possibility of the rain stopping and was absolutely sick of constantly walking on soft mud, walked 2 kms to find a place to book a plane to Calcutta, had to go back to my hotel before I could get the bookings BECAUSE I couldn't remember the name of my hotel for their paperwork ....AAGGHHHH.

In the 2 days I had to wait for the flight it stopped raining, I moved to a great hotel (details available), met a good cycle rickshaw wallah, found a great restaurant, met a great group of men, watched India beat Pakistan at cricket and wondered why I was leaving Assam, never went to see any tourist attractions.

Day 16 - 19 - Flew to Calcutta, booked into the Fairlawn Hotel, absolutely awesome place, stayed a few days, met a few great people, went on a narrow gauge train trip in west Bengal (remind me to add a link to a write-up about it), went to see Eden Gardens cricket ground, Howrah bridge and Howrah train station, bought a couple of CD's by Bhumi, was glad that the people of Calcutta were as friendly as their reputation.

Day 20 - Took overnight train to Jabalpur, had a very quick stop-over as I was intending to get to another place, stayed at ok hotel, didn't look for any tourist attractions.

Day 21 - Had a great breakfast, a haircut, a little look around, then took overnight train to Nadiad (Gujarat).

Day 22 - 28 - Arrived Nadiad with 2 hours to wait before my next train, so had breakfast, then give a hotel man Rs100 to let me shower and change my clothes, then took narrow gauge train to Pij, the village where a friend in London was from, (I had intended on spending all my time in Assam, it's only when I booked the plane ticket for Calcutta that I decided to go to Gujarat, so nobody, not even my friend knew I would be in Gujarat, when I looked at the dates I knew I had to go to Pij).

I knew that he lived by the water tank, so after a group of kids (met them on the train) had shown me around there school, I went and found the water tank, some people asked me why I was in Pij, I said I had come to meet my friend (I give them his name and they all knew him), they said "he is in London", I said "no, he is meeting me at 12 next to the water tank".

About 5 minutes later my friends father arrived, he was confused and telephoned my friend in London, it was about 05:00 in London when my friend answered the telephone, his father talked to him then passed the phone to me, all I could say was "April fool", it was April 1st., we all had a good laugh about it and I ended up staying in the village for a week, it was as if I'd found a new India, it was the most 'eye-opening' experience of my life, a week I will never ever forget.

Day 29 - Went to meet another friendís family in Ahmedabad, and then took the overnight train to Jaipur.

Day 30 - 31 - Stayed at the awesome Jasvilas, had a couple of days in Jaipur then took the overnight train to Agra.

Day 32 - lasted 45 minutes in Agra before I decided to head for Delhi.

Day 33 - 34 - A couple of days in Delhi, then I flew home.
That trip give me such confidence, I felt I could travel anywhere and visit anywhere.

I went to Bodh Gaya and had always been told that Bihar was dangerous (thatís what they said about Assam), but off I went, walked down a narrow street, walked across a dry riverbed about a mile wide and went walkabout in a village, it was fun, later, I went to Gaya and found my train was delayed by something like 8 hours, so I went walking around Gaya, the people were really friendly, I had some great food and really interesting drinks, I was soon with a bunch of guys for hours and completely forgot the time, it was gone 11pm when I decided to head back to the station, but the guys freaked when I said I was walking and insisted on driving me to the station, it was about a 25 minute drive, so god alone knows how far I'd walked.

On another trip I started looking for great beaches down the east coast of India, not that I'm into beaches, but it was just an excuse to go walkabout on a grand scale, looked in various places, mostly in Andhra Pradesh, loved Voderavu (near Chirala) the most.

My walks can drive other people crazy, I was in a group of 20+ doing a tour by train, and we'd been on trains from Mumbai through Gujarat to Jammu, then back to Delhi, then a train to Assam, I was getting really restless, and the train pulled up 2-3km from Guwahati station (I knew by the km stones), we were running to time and had almost an hour at Guwahati before the train was scheduled to depart again, so I said to the others "I'm going for a walk, I'll be back on the train before it departs Guwahati", they must have thought I was mad, but I followed the general direction of the tracks, found time for a quick kingfisher, saw an interesting temple, found a great shop for Indian sweets, bought a massive box, got to my carriage with 2 minutes to spare, then shared the sweets with the others on the train.

Iíve had far too many fascinating walks to mention here, theyíve included taking narrow gauge trains to villages, and a couple of times Iíve just got off my train early because I liked the look of a place, or pretty fishing villages after a long beach walk, I did go to Koraput and Jagdalpur, but I was too tired in Koraput to do anything, and although Iíd looked so forward to Jagdalpur, I got food poisoning and was laid up for 2 days and had a train booked from Raipur the next day, so didnít do anything I wanted there.

I took a lady to Goa and went on the ĎJungle Book tourí, it was kind of interesting, and there was a Ďauthentic village tourí, it was dreadful, and ended with a bunch of kids singing us a local song, badly.

The Tamil Nadu tourism department laid on buses for a village tour, and it was fun, but again, I didnít like how they (tourism department) tried to get the villagers to make us feel welcome and important, Iíd rather they carried on doing what they were doing.

As I said earlier, it can seem difficult to just go off the beaten track, but it isnít, Iím not brave, donít speak any local languages (I find thereís always English speakers, and they find you quickly), but itís good to have a rough idea of local transport, and itís essential that youíre prepared to eat anywhere (and itís the biggest thrill), the vast majority of people will welcome you and look after you, they really do believe that Ďguest is godí, and youíll find the curiosity is genuine and the smiles are infectious.

Try another part of town first, or just down a few narrow streets, youíll know from that experience if you can venture out further on your own, but more than anything, just walk, walk and then walk some more.
#7 Mar 12th, 2014, 10:14
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Steven_ber,

Interesting post. I see your point and feel similarly about all that cultural dancing part. Visiting a cultural festival celebrated by the locals would be the bet thing to do, if you are in the right place t the right time.

These village getaways that I have posted are in some ways similar and also not similar to what you have described. First the not so similar things, these places are located mostly in the interior parts and having some distinct natural or cultural attraction associated with them. Some of these places are 70-100km away from the closest semi-urban area. They are completely rural. Second thing is that they are run by the villagers itself, not some hot shot MBA who has done his graduation from the cities and trying to squeeze out the opportunities out of the place. The Headman or Secretary of the village cooperative society is usually the one who runs the place with a few senior members of the village. Tourism is still a small contributor to the economy in the state, hence you will not come across touts, especially in the villages. The villagers will be too busy with their own normal days work.

Now the similar things to what you have just mentioned. Yes a guesthouse /homestay will be there and a few activities would be arranged so as not to keep the traveller bored. Most of the activities will be adventure activities like trekking, caving etc involving taking a local guide along or learning to make your own silk shawl or learning how to pluck tea leaves from a tea garden, etc. But I would prefer that activities are kept strictly optional so that the traveller may opt what he wants to do with his time. A roof over ones head in the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere,is the only first prerequisite that is needed. How you spend your time should be entirely up to you. I don't know how much the Tourism department out here have trained or over trained the villagers to welcome their guests, but I guess it would be just so much to make you feel pleasant and welcome. The other villagers will definitely be fascinated to see a stranger walking along their village footpaths, especially kids, but I guess that will be as much as it goes. People here are polite yet generally shy and as per the Khasi customs, 'Akor' or manners and 'Tip Briew, Tip Blei' or being 'socially conscious and spiritually conscious' are the Ten Commandments for the Khasis. Infact when we were in school, we had a separate book that taught us for 3-4 classes on just manners and how to behave.
#8 Mar 12th, 2014, 21:14
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Originally Posted by karikor View Post a guesthouse /homestay will be there and a few activities would be arranged so as not to keep the traveller bored. Most of the activities will be adventure activities like trekking, caving etc involving taking a local guide along or learning to make your own silk shawl or learning how to pluck tea leaves from a tea garden, etc. But I would prefer that activities are kept strictly optional so that the traveller may opt what he wants to do with his time.
There lies another couple of problems with arranged visits.

A very well meaning person persuades villagers to open their doors to tourists, very likely with promises that local culture/customs wont be affected, the same well meaning person explains how another villager can act as a guide and another can arrange tours and activities, and so on.

The tourist then feels under pressure to take the guide and tour, even if nobody is pressuring them.

The locals are then viewing tourism as a way to earn a living, and leaving behind their normal way of life.

I'm not saying these tours are a bad thing, certainly not, and I'm also not saying that locals wanting to make a living from tourism is a bad thing, it's just different and will slowly move the whole village away from their normal way of life (this could be a good thing for the local economy, maybe not, I don't know), these villages offer something different (why else would tourists go), but how long before tourism changes that village.

I feel like I'm crazy arguing against tourism, and arguing against arranged village tours when I often go for a wander to such places myself, perhaps I am a bit of a hypocrite, but as I said from the start, it's the organised bit I worry about, yet at the same time I'm well aware that many people wouldn't visit such places without the organisation, and that these people can often bring some useful rupees to such places.

My hypocrisy has my head spinning.
#9 Mar 12th, 2014, 21:34
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The casual tourist would freak at the real village experience Where's the women's restroom, the bushes in that direction. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. After a few sherries my visiting friend confided how happy he was that I didn't have a cow dung plastered floor. I gave him a few a few more sherries..
Last edited by edwardseco; Mar 13th, 2014 at 20:30..
#10 Mar 12th, 2014, 23:21
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@ Steven_ber,

Your points are well taken but I believe that there is no need to be too paranoid about hings. You have to measure up your priorities while making a roadmap or policy for a city/state/country. When you do not have too many options to improve the economy of the state, you will have to carefully consider what steps can be taken to stop your citizens from starvation immediately.

Similarly Meghalaya is one of the poorer states in the country with no scope for any industry to come up. Employment avenues are few and far. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people about 80%, but the yield is so less that most of the production is just enough, sometimes less, even for personal consumption.

You talk about changing the normal life of the rural people. Now what sort of life is it when most days you have to skip a meal since there is damage to the crops or there is no one to employ you even as menial help? What sort of normal life is it, that despite the hard work you render yourself to, to whatever trade your into, you do not live a day without having debts ? And if you have half of the population below the age of 25, all literate, without jobs, frustrated and some being misdirected into anti-national activities, and you do not have options for other opportunities, what will you do?

If you put in one hand, promoting a policy the supports rural tourism (arranged or unarranged) in a few places that may change many lives away from a life of extreme poverty and on the other hand, you put all the negatives that you have carefully jotted down, what will you do?

Finally from what I understand, you can't have it all. It will also depend on each personal requirement. There are some who will want organised tours and some who won't. It will be very difficult to cater to everyone. Beside there are 6000+ villages and 9000+ rural hamlets in my state, so promoting half a dozen hamlets to rural tourism, will not change the entire rural setup in the state. Groups sharing the same views as you, will still have another 6000-6 villages to visit. By the way, why be so stingy to those group of people who seek for a comfortable and hygienicaly and activity filled experience holiday?
#11 Mar 13th, 2014, 00:58
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Originally Posted by karikor View Post By the way, why be so stingy to those group of people who seek for a comfortable and hygienicaly and activity filled experience holiday?
I wasn't, I openly said that I wasn't against organised village stays, and that those tourists can bring in much needed income, I was just expressing my own opinion and the way of travel that I prefer.

Opinions are mostly formed by experiences, and being approached by pushy touts in large cities offering village stays only gets a person thinking about how much money will actually go to the villagers, I could be wrong, but I tend to think that if someone is pushing hard, there will be a big profit in it for them if they get a sale.

Even if I'm right about such touts, I'm confident there will be many more tours where the vast majority of income goes direct to the villagers.

If a tour is booked on http://villagegetaways.in/ , do you know what percentage of money goes direct to the villagers?
#12 Mar 13th, 2014, 02:41
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Steven_ber,

I respect your opinion. That is how you like to travel so to each his own.

Now coming to your last line, I do not know what the scenario is for other rural tourism, but for the villagegetaways thing, the people running these places are members of the village cooperative societies where that project is located. The Cooperative Department trains and provide capacity building to these villagers to function as a cooperative. On top of this, the Department on behalf of the Govt. provides share capital to these cooperatives as per their functioning. When dividend is announced, the government gets a share. Now for the infrastructure of these rural tourism, the line department, that is the Tourism Department builds the infrastructure for the cooperatives in convergence mode.

So now say you book a cottage for 2000 bucks. The money goes to the members of the village cooperative. And when the dividend of the cooperative is called, a small portion goes back to the Govt as dividend. This is a way for sustaining the initiative.

As for touts and agents, I won't want to kill them off, but I feel the villagers are first priority and should get their dues. That's what I have been doing here on IndiaMike since May 2012 in the Meghalaya forum, decreasing the travellers dependency on touts and agents. My main aim is to bring people here with certain expectations and to learn from them that they left filled with good memories. If I am successful in doing this much, I know I am indirectly helping the economy of the state. I have studied out and even worked out, and I'm very sad to come back and see the state of affairs in my home when compared to the places i have been to. I have passion for nature and tourism. So this is me doing my part, for this place I love oh so dearly.
#13 Mar 13th, 2014, 22:50
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Here are photos of the Mawphanlur Guest Houses which I took when I visited the place during the Christmas holidays.
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#14 Mar 13th, 2014, 23:31
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Another view of the guest houses
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#15 Sep 5th, 2014, 12:26
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by steven_ber View Post If a tour is booked on http://villagegetaways.in/ , do you know what percentage of money goes direct to the villagers?
Well to answer this question, I actually visited one of these places, Mawlongbna a few months back. The villagegetaways website had only the contact no. of the Meghalaya Tourism Cooperative Society president/secretary. So I contacted him wanting to know more about the place, route, etc., and came to know that he was a village head representing the Mawlyngngot Cooperative Society. He did not have the contacts for the Mawlongbna Cooperative society with him at that time and told me that i had to contact the Mawlongbna Cooperative Society for more information. So, to my dismay, there was no option to book via villagegetaways website, and sadly i would have to hunt for contacts.
I had to visit the Meghalaya Cooperative Department, to actually get the contact no. Once i got the no. of the secretary of the village cooperative at Mawlongbna, i called him up, got the required info, and started making plans.
Infact, i had to call him again before i left shillong to confirm that i was coming, so that he could go to Mawsynram, 15km away, and buy provisions to prepare lunch for us.
When we had arrived at the travellers nest, there was a caretaker who would also be our guide for the day, who welcomed us and a lady doing the cooking. And no other visitors.
After we had our lunch, we started with our activities. We came to know that we were the 5th group to have visited in the 6 months that they had opened. And that everytime a group comes, another boy is made as guide in rotation basis, so as to provide chances to other unemployed youth in the village. Our guide had completed class 12. What was sad in a way, but good for us was that till the end of the day, there were no other tourist/visitors in the entire place.

Apart from the trekking, we also did rafting. Now while we were trekking, our guide was quick to call a jeep to pick up the rafts from the travellers nest and drop them off at the reservoir. We met the Secretary of the cooperative society at the reservoir. He was enjoying fishing in the afternoon with his buddies. We had a chat with him and he expressed his eagerness to develop the place further. The only thing i forgot to ask was how the cooperative society got the rafts, from the Tourism Department?

Now coming to the most important part, we paid our fees and other charges directly to the guide, who quickly ran to get the cooperative society's receipt book and produced us our receipts. And we thanked him and bid adiue.

Now 6months later, apart from 2 billboards on the way, i have not seen much promotion of these village getaways places. Nor have i come across any touts endorsing these places.

So i guess it must be different how other rural tourism projects operate in other states. This is the state of affairs here. Infact im a little sad since things have not picked up much. The cooperative societies even now are so thrilled when they manage to get a group of visitors occupying 2-5 days a month.

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