Category Archives: Home Stay

Uttarakhand Village paves way for Voluntary Tourism

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Jeevan Lal is the hero of the story. His hamlet in remoteKanda, (now Uttaranchal),86 km from Almora, is an ideal  tourist spot. Kanda has about 30 villages and a population of over 15,000 people. But unlike other Hill station, Kanda has shown the way for a new concept of voluntary tourism.

Tourists not only stay in the 5 rooms Jeevan’s Paying Guest, but also use their skills to bring about a difference. For example Rajan Singh who has an architecture back ground , has helped design Earth Quake proof house for those living in the high seismic zone of Kanda.

The project also helps generate employment in an area where there are very few employment schemes.Different from the other forms of tourism ,this pro-poor voluntary tourism helps in offsetting the “Domino Effect” that has destroyed many hill stations.

       Foreigners who flock Kanda in large numbers , make their stay meaningful . They begin their day with a shramdaan ,leading to a cleaner environment . They involve themselves in different chores. They go trekking , chase butterflies but also give lesson in working English to the poor Dalit and backward people. And in the evening ,they enjoy a sumptuous Kumauni meal with Jeevan’s family. Many houses here are even repaired by the volunteers. Jeevan’s story would have remained  unknown beyond these picturesque valleys, but for Prof.Dr.Tajvir Singh – head of the Centre for Tourism Research and Development in Lucknow  and an authority on Himalayas.

    In his research journal, Dr . Singh and his assistant Shalini Singh took up this pilot project and spent a week in Kanda. The research paper they prepared , after there stay in Kanda, war presented at a conference in Makau at the institute for Tourism Studies.” The world received the news with joy”. saidShalini ,back from the conference.

    Prof Singh said this experiment would introduce ‘social  tourism’ on the hills “ inundated by holders of visitors from the plains unmindful of the damage they have done to the place”. ROSE ( Rural organisation for Social Elevation ), Jeevan’s organisation with headquarters in Sunargaon , has a bio- gas plant, a cattle shed, green house and a bee- keeping unit.

      During their stay ,volunteers engage themselves in organic farming, paper making, preparing greeting cards from recycled papers and dried flowers, and even cooking Indian food using biogas or solar cooker.

About the host

Mr Verma

about_host_1My name is Jeevan Lal Verma, I was born in the village of Sunargaon, which is in the Kanda, Bageshwar District of the Kumoan region in Uttarakhand, North India. I studied in Inter College Kanda, ITI Training Almora and National Apprenticeship at Scooters India limited Lucknow after I had finished my studying and visiting life in the city I decided to do social work within my village. I felt called to social work because I had a helping nature, I had always suffered from a lack of money, but my soul told me to serve the local community. I made it my hobby to connect to the whole of the world, so I participated in many training projects, workshops, visits and conferences by the youth leadership and as a social activist.

about_host_2It was June 1988 when I participated in a workshop where I met some foreign visitors looking for a host family. August the same year I hosted eight international volunteers from different nations. They participated in 15 days home stay, cultural exchange and social & rural development work camps. That was my first experience and it was very successful. My family and the whole community gave the visitors a warm welcome. The community and youth of Kanda participated and my family was very cooperative with hosting the international volunteers, who adjusted very well to our family life. I felt good because the visiting group were very flexible, civilized and had a good sense of humor. It was a valuable exchange because I learnt some skills and increased my knowledge from them.

I still participate in international seminars, workshops, training programs, fairs and festivals in India and exhibit photographs of the volunteers and village tourism so people are aware of the opportunities we provide.

My family members will also be your hosts. Myself and my wife Hema have six children together. The eldest girl Praveen is married and lives about 45 minutes away – a breathtaking walk through the paddy fields and hills. Jeetendra is my eldest son, Diptee is my second daughter (also married), Renu and Gunga are my other daughters in order of age and Sadju is my youngest son. Jeetendra’s wife also lives with us, as does my grandson Gautam (Praveen’s son).

Mr Verma’s Bio Data

What to expect

Lodging & boarding:

image005Simplicity is what you would see and get in all the activities of your day-to- day living as you stay with us. We have kept in mind the hygiene needs while planning for our guests’ requirements. As a guest you would be provided with:

  • A room with traditional settings on single or sharing basis depending on the availability and the need.
  • Hygienically cooked vegetarian Kumauni food. Kumauni food is similar to food served elsewhere in northern India. For, non-vegetarian food one has to request in advance.
  • A clean traditional dry-composting or wet-compositing toilet.

Our Food:

We shall serve you our home cooked vegetarian food and it will be mostly from the ingredients grown locally .There is a tradition of two main meals in hill region of Uttrakhand. One full meal late morning around 9-10 am as the day goes in doing daily chores in the field or their respective work routines this is followed by light evening tea around 4.00 & 5.00 pm with some snacks and an early dinner between 7.00 & 8.00 pm as the village goes to sleep early. But now-a-days, eating habits are changing as per modern living so do get a three daily meal system in villages also.

In other words you will share all the same amenities as the family enjoy. Your only other expenses will be for personal shopping when you go to the local market or on excursions with the family or on your own.

Money Matters:

If you run out of money during your stay, the closest ATM (cash machine) is located in Bageshwar (1h bus ride from Kanda) and the nearest place for changing money is The State Bank of India in Almora (5h bus ride from Kanda). Do not expect to change more than £60 or a $100 at a time. Visas/Credit Cards are not accepted.

Travel advisory

What to carry?To make your trip planning easier we share some of our thoughts on:

Clothes:

travel_advisory_3Besides your basic personal clothing we suggest following cloths based on the weather and experiences of our past guests

For summers:

As the temperatures rises during the summer it is advised to take loose clothing along with at least one winter wear -a light jacket or a shawl, as there can be chill in the morning & evening. Loose cotton pyjamas or pants are suggested with one or two full sleeves shirts, T-shirts or tops to protect from insects. For, ladies Punjabi salwar suites if not trousers will be helpful in moving around and taking part in some activity.

For winters:

We would suggest that going by the temperature guidelines; kindly carry adequate winter clothing as per your body needs. There isn’t any central heating system so the clothing should be warm enough. A cap along with gloves will come handy in extreme cold weather. Please remember that you may not get proper heating in the rooms at times so please plan accordingly.

Medicines:

travel_advisory_1We would advise you to carry with you all the basic medicines for headache, stomach ache, upset stomach, body ache, fever, cough & cold, anti allergic, antibiotics for toothache along with any other medicine which you are used to having on a regular basis as we may not get all the medicines in the interiors. The medicines can be brought along or you may buy them from cities on the way up.

Footwear:

A pair of shoes suitable for walking in the hilly terrain is advisable along with a sleeper or sandals as per personal likings.

Toiletries:

Besides your daily needs, please do carry a moisturizer as the skin may turn dry because of the weather. In summers, may need to carry a prickly heat powder, mosquito repellent & a deodorant too.

Other accessories:

  • A small torch will be handy if power goes off or whilst negotiating a path during nights.
  • You may carry a token gift for your hosts though not very costly as that helps in building the bond and its also a tradition.
  • Carry a small notebook & a pen to jot down your experiences.
  • If you want to take your memories further, take your camera with a spare set of batteries.

 

Do’s & don’t:travel_advisory_2As we shall move into a conservative society it becomes important for us to respect their way of living. After discussing with our past guests we would like to share few points and we request our guests to kindly keep following points in mind during the stay:

  • Avoid public display of affection to your companion or with the local people.
  • Do not defecate or urinate near water source.
  • Do not use your finger or serving spoon for tasting the food.
  • For ladies, it is advisable that they wear concealing clothing & avoid wearing clothes like shorts, short skirts or spaghetti tops. Please do not feel offended. We are just facilitating you to be a part of the group. Incorrect clothing can make you feel isolated.
  • Please respect the values, believes, culture and religion of your hosts and the people of the locality.
  • Please feel free to ask your host questions about their customs, culture etc as this will not only enhance your awareness but also help in enhancing your relationship.
  • While planning your trip do consider referring to the inputs provided by us in the section what to carry.

The only prerequisites for volunteering with R.O.S E are:
• Patience and willingness to learn , low cost technology / skill and
knowledge sharer, helper and supporter.
• Flexibility and adaptability ,obedient  to host  .
• Honesty and respect for local lifestyles don’t create problem for
the host family and community.
• A sense of humors! Don’t doing antisocial activities. Living civilized way.
*Don’t show western culture and wearing proper dress.
*Don’t drink Alcohol / Wine  and don’t smoke  hemp .
* After dinner go to bed ,keep quite don’t shouting ,Don’t disturb any person .

What can I expect when volunteering with R.O.S.E?

ROSE offers an array of opportunities to self motivated volunteers It
is a real experience in community life Opportunities include:

  • Living with a family, as part of a local community / world wide family, and having a real experience of a rural Indian lifestyle.
  • Being involved in teaching school children, organic farming and learning about bio diversity and cottage industries, including construction and protection of local Environment.
  • Enjoying the tranquility and beautiful scenery of an organic agricultural village in the foothills of the Himalayas, or taking time out to explore the Himalayas on one of the many Treks in the Kanda area. Learning Hindi or Kumaoni and enjoying unique Kumaoni cuisine.
  • Developing self confidence social awareness, and having fun!