Here is a glimpse of our work with village communities as destinations for community-based tourism:
Devalsari, Dehradun, with Devalsari Ecotourism Research Centre, Devalsari
We have developed heritage trails and trained local youth to conduct them. We have been handholding the community by directing appropriate tourism traffic towards this destination. Today, Devalsari is a successful destination with its own Butterfly Park and guest house, run by locals. Locals have leveraged ecotourism to stall ecologically destructive road building projects, with our assistance.
Bhangeli, Uttarkashi, with the District Administration
A village known for out-migration, today Bhangeli successfully operates homestays, heritage and nature trails, and the popular trek to Gidara Bugyal, a pristine alpine grassland overlooked by the insurmountable Bandarpunch peak. Locals also engage with tourists in providing wholesome village experiences.
Powalgarh, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, with Powalgarh Prakriti Prahari
On the fringes of the Corbett National Park, the community at Powalgarh have successfully evolved the concept of heritage village with sustainable tourism practices forming the core of their livelihoods’ model. Rather than focusing on mega-fauna species such as tiger and elephant, their model is now based on village experiences, bird watching, and a heritage walk to the ancient Sitabani temple.
Kamad-Thandi, Uttarkashi, with Development Alternatives, New Delhi
Kamad and Thandi are a cluster of six villages that were adversely affected by the Kedarnath Flood of 2013. Today, these villages run successful homestays and treks. A community centre is functional, that helps coordinate village activities. A tie-up with DIT University, Dehradun, is helping young people reach out to the community and developing an understanding of local issues.
Jageshwar, Almora, with the District Administration
Identifying fast changing travel trends, we trained many local youths from families of
priests who earlier performed rituals for visitors, into heritage guides. Today, they conduct heritage walks and historically interpret temple architecture and history for visitors. A booklet was also prepared for the community as a reference guide.
Balawat, Dehradun, with Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board
Located in a remote disaster-prone region, this village hosts trekkers who decide to undertake the trek on the Chainsheel Ridge and Pass. Locals have been given basic courses in search and rescue and trek leadership. The trek is gaining in popularity. A short film has also been produced by us on the trek.
Parashar Lake, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, with Development Alternatives, New Delhi
This high-altitude lake in Mandi is flanked by a group of six villages. We have worked with women groups to train them in tourism entrepreneurship, running homestays and conducting heritage trails. Extensive work has been done in documenting local wisdom, especially in the field of culinary recipes and use of native herbs in treating ailments. We intend to take this work forward to broad base craft and local remedies in wider markets.
Sankri, Uttarkashi, under UNDP Secure Himalaya Project with Govind National Park/Sanctuary
The Govind National Park/Sanctuary is a prime habitat for the Snow Leopard. It attracts winter trekkers to destinations such as Har-Ki-Doon and Kedarkantha. We are working towards making village communities the stakeholders in the ecotourism pie, leveraging indigenous timber architecture and local experiences. An interpretation center is also being created by us to curate the Sankri experience.
Mussoorie, Dehradun, with Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd.
Mussoorie is a typical hill station, its accessibility ensuring that it has reached the population limit of tourists, much beyond its carrying-capacity. We are working with village communities around Mussoorie, to develop their spaces as tourism attractions for day tours. Local youth have been trained to lead heritage and nature walks. A booklet has also been produced.
Khunt, Almora, with Shri Venkateshwara College, New Delhi
Traditional Kumaoni Architecture has been successfully leveraged to transform abandoned homes into homestays. Some people who had abandoned their homes have been convinced to return to their homes and run these projects in the Kumaon hills. This has triggered a wave of restoration of Himalayan homes in the region, empowering communities to reap dividends of the travel and workcation boom.
Rikholi, Dehradun, with Project Peepal
Rikholi is a peri-urban village community that has been steadily abandoning its agricultural practices, unable to keep pace with market trends. We are trying to restore these sustainable agro-based lifestyles, connecting the community with a niche urban market. Ecotourism is emerging as a vital means of bringing people back to traditional and sustainable lifestyles.