National Tourism Day is celebrated every year in India on the 25th of January to promote Indian tourism. India is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and offers huge diversity and multiculturalism. The country has rich history, heritage, tradition and art. India has no dearth of scenic places to visit; from mountains, seas and oceans, lakes, back waters, rivers, waterfalls, forests, desert and many more. Travel Industry alone contributes to 9% of India’s GDP with more than 10 million foreign tourists visiting India every year. India has a vibrant travel supplier base and ecosystem with a higher percentage of young population. The youth wants to travel and each state in India has unexpected wonders. Tourism in India has huge potential. It is essential to make the people aware of the prospects of tourism and what role the tourism sector plays in the Indian economy.
National Tourism Day 2022
This year’s theme for National Tourism Day is ‘Rural and Community Centric Tourism’. There is a noted shift in the ways of travelling. As tourism is taking a reboot, it is the best time to promote community based tourism. Slow travelling in rural India is where tourists live like locals, share their lives by living in home-stays, farm stays and indulge in activities like cooking and crafting together, storytelling, and touring the village on foot or local conveyance. It is the best way to know about true India. It is an opportunity for economic growth of local communities. Community based tourism demands responsibilty and makes one a lot more responsible.
My Experiences in Mawlynnong
On National Tourism Day I would like to share some of my recent experiences of rural and community centric tourism. I would love to mention Mawlynnong, Asia’s cleanest village. Mawlynnong is a little village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, a scenic state in North East India. They live a simple happy life as a community. They have work divided as a community. Me, my husband and my brother stayed at the bamboo cottage, lighted a hot air balloon with the villagers at night and fed the poultry the next morning. I helped the person who cooked us our meal with salads. It was an amazing experience.
The Lackluster Bawali
Bawali, a village near Kolkata, West Bengal, is famous for the opulent Rajbari (mansion or palace), a premium resort. There is a very interesting rural Bawali that most tourists don’t care about. The theme for National Tourism Day suggesting rural and community centric tourism is of tremendous priority. I took special interest in the village and travelled around, discovering some gems.400 years old Bengal brick temples stood, one being an enormous structure. We do not find anything about these in the books of history or on the tourism map. Some of them were being renovated by local enthusiasts and I assisted in the process with a little donation. Some of the old villagers told me about the history of the place and the temples. This experience, even though a short one, is going to remain in my heart for long.
Homestays of Himalayan Hamlets
Home stays of Himalayan hamlets give me the best of local vibes. I confess that their simplicity attracts me. At quaint little Himalayan hamlets I feel a sense of belonging. My stay at Gurung’s guest house in Tinchuley, a Himalayan hamlet in West Bengal, was healing. I enjoyed taking a local along with me on village hikes, where he told me which cottage belonged to whom. With warm smiles, many locals welcomed me with tea. I remember meeting the oldest man in the village who invited me for a local festival. My mom and I helped the little dancers with dressing up and makeup. The monks at the monastery shared a warm smile of recognition every evening as I went to meditate there during their evening prayers and chants. Tasty fresh food from the own organic farm of the home stay is unparalleled. The community and the scenic village was so much of an inspiration that I could sit and paint anytime I wanted. Life is all about making memories and experiences. This is a soothing experience I am ending with on the National Tourism Day. Hope you like reading them.