Social Tourism – A Tour for Thought!
Tags: Anandvan, Baba Amte, Countryside Holiday Idea, Dr.Prakash Amte, Hemalkasa, Hiware Bajar, Offbeat Weekend experience, place every person wishes to visit, Ralegan Siddhi, Rural India, self-connecting travel trend, social activists in India, Social Tourism, Social Tourism Destinations, socio progressive tourism, Village life
‘Always find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive’ these lines truly make us think at a point in our lives … If we googled today about tourism, many of us will find tourism as commercial holiday activity, a gateway to exotic locations and many more alluring tour packages. Even the moment we imagine about travel & tourism the first thought which strikes our mind is sunny beaches, exotic destinations, flooded markets, shopping, and fun & entertainment. Little do we care about what is learning from these tour packages apart from just visiting those mesmerizing locations and the happiness we realized after visiting them. However, there is another unsung way of travel is trending now a day’s known as ‘Social Tourism,’ which is in the interest of society as well as the traveler.
It is an experience that gives you an opportunity to meet the people & projects that are scripting the social transformation from grassroots upwards. It is also a way to contribute to the cause of nation-building in an enduring manner. Even the government of Maharashtra is now encouraging the socio-progressive tourism that binds together the real idea of tourism along with imparting and inculcating values. One does think of why visiting remote or rural India when the alluring and mesmerizing options are available? When luxury is one touch away? When travel can be more than just reaching the destination?
The answer is very simple yet much essential as it connects us back to our origin, the roots from where we in some or other place hail. It is a kind of restoring our values that our forefathers have gifted, putting lights on our culture for our younger generations which are getting crushed in this civilized urban life.
More than this social tourism is treating our senses with the rural aroma and the flavor that stimulates us to get up and be a part of this selfless yet self-connecting travel trend.
In Maharashtra, the social activist like Baba Amte & his family, Rani and Abhay Bang, Anna Hazare and many others have adopted few villages which are below poverty line and are surrounded by inequality of nature and resources. With an active support & strong willpower of these activists, the villagers have excelled over the natures unruliness.
Never the less these initiatives help us to be with the villagers, and to understand their lifestyle where they sustain & shine in available resources. Their simple yet useful techniques of water harvesting, agriculture are more of humanitarian values. While understanding their food culture, dining in earthen pots which remind us the once forgotten aura of the soil we lived. Other things which you can learn how they earn their livelihood, using ancient techniques, etc. All these can be experienced at a moderately low tariff which can be a bundle of happiness, a great collection of memories and not to forget what it fetches the villagers!!
To name a few villages like Anandvan, Hemalkasa, Hiware Bajar, Ralegan Siddhi stood tall and firm to the thorny advent of nature & man. These Revolutionary Places are emerging as Social Tourism Destinations.
Anandvan as the name suggests A forest of happiness. Yes, Dr.Baba Amte with is mesmerizing smile stood for the leprosy patients in 1952 when leprosy was a stigma to the society and a person suffering was outcast from the society all to wait for death. Baba Amte came forward to give a hand for such people and started an ashram in Warora-Amravati. He then started taking care of them with love and affection, along with this he also trained them in making khadi clothes, wooden and mud toys which earned the livelihood for them. Shortly the entire ashram turned into a beautiful place where animals, humans lived together happily and now a place every person wishes to visit.
Hemalkasa is widely known for its Lokbiradri project near Gadchiroli-Vidarbha. This village was adopted by Dr.Prakash Amte and his wife Mandakini in 1973. They burnt the midnight oil for abundant tribes and leprosy patients, starting up with hospitals and minor surgeries, also started animal orphanages explaining and updating the tribes the need of hygiene and good health. The couple started with school and care centers for the tribes and had been able to elevate the villagers to the scale of acceptance in the mainstream. Dr.Prakash Amte and Mandakini were later honored with Magsaysay Award for community leadership in 2008.
Shodhagram a village greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings. Dr.Rani and Abhay Bang founded SEARCH-Society for Education Action and Research in Community Health in Gadchiroli which also has a deeper philosophical meaning is the pursuit of happiness, a search of humanity and the quest for self. Mr.and Mrs. Bang has initiated activities of providing health care to the local tribes and villagers. Health education and training, tobacco and alcohol addiction prevention programs, child health, Nutrition and its importance and much more other health facilities Also strong steps for stopping human sacrifice in the tribes is initiated and brought to an end. This village is a real inspiration, and a place must visit to treat our senses.
Ansarwada & Sevalay:
Ansarwada another place where a cast has proclaimed their right to live. This caste is also known as Dombari which means the people who do roadside acrobats walking on high tied strings from which these groups earn their livelihood. But now these people are into Swayam-rojgar where they make handmade carpets and many such articles. All they want is people who visit them, appreciate their work and be the part of their lives for a day or two.
Sevalay as the name itself explains a place where everyone believes in the service to humanity. Many people come here and work voluntarily for the children living here who have infected by H.I.V. As the society does not accept these kids easily. Here at Sevalaya they have their own space which gives them a homely feeling. You can voluntarily help these children by helping them in their daily course, preparing meals for them, playing games with them and many more things. This experience gives real meaning to the well said lines ‘Service to man is service to God.’
Ralegan Siddhi & Hiware Bajar:
Ralegan Siddhi a village established by Anna Hazare who struggled for corruption free India. His efforts have made this village a happy and prosperous place to live in which was also awarded by the government of India. This village has introduced many projects for self-sufficiency accepted by other villages too. On the other hand, Hiware Bajar, a village in Ahmednagar District has been inspired by Ralegan Siddhi is a very beautiful destination to visit now. This drought infected area has fought against the odds of water scarcity and infused self-designed irrigation and water conservation projects. The excellent initiative by the villagers has preached the world the importance of water and water conservation.
Kudos to the spirit and zest of these social activists who have the vision, dream and endurance to fight the toughs of nature and man is truly inspiring. These destinations though are not luxurious and comfy as others which we always like to visit; but indeed will give you an experience of the human-made heavens which touch your soul in a real sense.