What connects a life beyond the concrete jungle? Is it only the diversified nature that allays the stress or heritage that puts us into a time machine? I wonder where to live over the age old culture that most of us lost in the rush hours? It tickles our nerves when we teem out to a different realistic chapter from the city life.
India will always be torn between the urban and rural, yes I’m talking about the two prodigals -the more used city life and the lesser explored countryside. As a traveller I’ll always try to escape from the day to day rataplan to a no zone of comfort and far from mobile networks, shopping malls, traffic snarls, hooliganism, and last but not the least OFFICE. I would like to see myself… wearing a gamocha (traditional cotton towel) and bathing in water drawn from a nalkoop (hand pump) under the open sky, in a panchyat under the banyan tree than yawning at a conference meeting, in a clay walled and thatched roof hut instead of lavishly painted brick walls and plastered ceilings. So the traveller in me dreams of a rural scape in India that leads to discover how silkworms turned to smooth flowing drapes, how turmeric roots became face cream, how Neem Patta (Nimtree leaves) became a component to preserve the shine of our teeth in the form of Neem tooth paste, how tigers of your calendars ravaged villages and how sowing of seeds develop into vegetables and these seeds are later served as a palatable dish.
The rural side in India seems to be a wonderland that gives insights to a lot of mysteries. It’s not only about a ride on a bullock cart… but here it goes…
The mystery of the country side in the Indian Himalayan region
If you have ever tasted momos and thukpa at any of the villages in Lahaul-Spiti region, Ladakh region, Sikkim or Arunachal Pradesh… you will then come to know that what we are savouring at an Indo-Tibetan restaurant in a city is far beyond comparison. Here the mystery is between the spicy aroma and flavour. May be the ingredients are the same but I bet… there is a difference in taste. The reality is that you are in the midst of an age old culture. The unsung and unique culture of the inhabitants enclosed in between the Trans-Himalayan region and Lesser Himalayan region sometimes seems weird for an amateur traveller who is visiting such far-fetched villages for the first time.
Life in the villages like Dras, Likir, Turtuk, and Merak in the Ladakh Himalayan region is quite similar to villages in Lahaul-Spiti region in Himachal Pradesh. The distinctive cultural aura of the Indo-Tibetans in these villages signifies their inherited pattern of thought. From the ancient monasteries and gompas to colourful and dramatic festivals, these villages turn out as the mystical parts of rural tourism in India. Majority of these villages are dependent on agricultural that vary from altitude to altitude. Villages at the higher altitude are generally surrounded by barren landscape and grow barley, peas, and vegetables, and have one species of willow (called Drokchang in Ladakhi). Coming down to a lower altitude you will find yourself in the middle of several species of mountain trees that include apricots, apples, mulberries, walnuts, balsam poplars, Afghan poplars, grapes and oleaster. Amongst the agricultural products, the villages at the lower altitude grow wheat, alfalfa, and mustard.
Apart from the scenic beauty… the highland panorama, wetlands, and rich cattle farms… the most striking feature of the Indo-Tibetan culture for the travellers is the festivals. If you are travelling to Ladakh during any of these festivals – the Naro Nasjal Festival at Sani Monastery in August, Dosmoche Festival at Likir Monastery in February, Phyang Festival at Phyang Gompa in July, and Tak-Tok Festival at Sakti village in July-August – you will get to experience the authentic and indigenous picture of the Ladakhi culture. Each of these festivals has got a different story to tell but the common feature is when the monasteries burst out with dance and drama performance, which is an amalgam of the fusion of drums and trumpets, and thumping steps of the masked Lamas in traditional costumes.
Further… to dig deep into their culture, the monasteries and gompas in the Ladakh region offer a vivid picture of the footsteps of Tibetans in India. But the reality and culture in Turtuk village, which is one of the Balti villages, is different from the Indo-Tibetans. The picturesque village of Turtuk is about as close as you can get to the boarders of Pakistan, physically and literally AND life out there is packed with struggle. Located on the edge of the Nubra Valley and beyond Hunder… Turtuk is one of the remote villages in the Ladakh region where you can experience the lifestyle of the Balti people who adhere to Islam religion. These people are famed for their indigenous art and architecture, music and dance, and food… all which is a fusion of Iranian culture and Tibetan culture. The village is dotted with several small houses and mosques that give a glimpse of the Tibetan, Mughal, and Iranian style of architecture. If you get a chance then try to live over their classical form of dances – Chhogho Prasul, Gasho-Pa, Sneo-Pa or the marriage procession dance.
The remotest spur of the Himachal Himalayan region is quite famed for being home to the distinct Lahaulis and Spiti Bhotia. The majority of these people is of Tibetan and Indo-Aryan descent and is spread over villages like Khoksar, Sissu, Gondhla, Tandi, Keylong, Jispa, and Darcha.
The rural lifestyle of the Lahaulis and Spiti Bhotias are quite similar to each other and are mostly dependent on agriculture and craft. The only difference between the two is that the Lahaulis follow a combination of Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism of the Drukpa Kagyu order, while the Spiti Bhotia follow Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelugpa order. The best time to experience the distinct culture of the Lahaulis and Spiti Bhotias is during the Losar Festival which is an annual festival and is celebrated in the month of April. Like the Indo-Tibetans in the Ladakh region… the inhabitants of Lahaul-Spiti appear in their traditional costumes at the time of the Losar Festival… making it one of the gala affairs.
The Lahaul-Spiti region is quite popular among travellers when it comes to some of the strenuous and moderate treks in Himachal Pradesh. Covering a vast stretch of barren landmass, the region is dotted with several alpine lakes and surrounded by scattered tufts of hardy grasses and shrubs. The most exciting way of exploring the natural and rural landscapes in Lahaul-Spiti region is through Yak safari… giving you a lifetime opportunity that you won’t find anywhere else other than in some parts of the Ladakh region.
Awaken the traveller in you and step into the Kardang Monastery in Kardang, Lahaul region, and Tabo Monastery in Tabo, Spiti region, which display the diorama of the Drukpa and Gelugpa sects of Buddhism respectively. The Kardang Monastery that was originally built in the 12th century was reconstructed in the period 1999-2009 and today it is the residence of over 50 monks and exhibits several antiques, murals, statues of Lord Buddha and monks, ancient manuscripts, many old paintings. The Tabo Monastery, which is one of the ancient monasteries in India, holds many priceless collections of thankas (scroll paintings), manuscripts, well-preserved statues, frescos and extensive murals which cover almost every wall. Some other monasteries in Lahaul-Spiti region are the Key Monastery, Dhankar Gompa, and Gandhola Monastery.
I could still recollect the days with the Kinnauris on my visit to Sangla a few months back. The inhabitants of this village like other villages in Kinnaur region have physical attributes similar to Mongoloid and Mediterranean origins and are largely dependent on agriculture. The Kinnauris are very culturally developed and show keen interest in music, dance and singing. That is what excited me… when I was simply blended with their hospitality, gesture, and physical strength. The folk music and dance, staying at the traditional Dogri huts, and fusion of different languages including the Kinnauri, Lohari and Chitkuli… all are now a part of my travel diary signifying the rural tourism in India.
Sangla village that comprises a few hundred families is located at the slope of the Sangla Valley or Baspa Valley at an altitude between 2,700 meters and 3,000 meters and makes for a wonderful retreat in the midst of stone and wood houses and exotic panorama of snow clad peaks and lush green valleys dotted with apple orchards. Close to Sangla is another picturesque village called Nako, at an altitude of 3,600 meters, which is renowned within the travellers’ world for the beautiful Nako Lake. The village further hosts many Buddhist temples including the Nako Monastery. Ahead lies the village of Chitkul at an altitude of 3,400 meters that boasts off a rich traditional atmosphere with slate and wooden plank rooftop houses sheltering various tribal settlements. Some major attractions in Chitkul are the ancient Mathi Devi Temple and Chitkul Fort. Some other villages that you can visit from Chitkul are Nichar , Wangtu , Karcham , Rakcham, Reckong-Peo , Puh , Kalpa and Kibber.
Although the Garhwal region is flanked by several small villages, I would highlight two of the most remote villages, Mana in Chamoli district and Agora in Uttarkashi district. In other words the Garhwal region is home to the Garhwalis who belong to the Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group and are divided into three castes- Garhwali Brahmin, Garhwali Rajput and Shilpkaar. Coming to the culture of the Garhwalis… they are believed to relate every peak, lake or mountain range somehow or the other to Hindu Gods and Goddess and holds several myths and folklore. The Garhwali people observe and celebrate all the Hindu fasts and festivals, enjoying a variety of festivals ranging from Makar Sankranti, Basant Panchmi, Holi, Diwali (locally known as Bagwali), Vijaydashmi, Bikhot, Maun etc. During the festivals, the Garhwalis perform various folk dances like Raaso, Harul, Jhumeilo, Taandi, Pandav Nritya, Langvir nritya, Thadya, Chauphula etc.
To experience the perpetual folk culture in the Garhwal region far from the maddening rush of the tourists… the Mana village, which is better known as the last Indian village before the border with Tibet, offers a fantastic portrait of rural tourism in the Indian Himalayan region. With scheming history spread across its rustic lanes and traditional houses made of stones and asbestos amid the calm and quiet surrounding and dazzling vistas, Mana village is a complete laid-back retreat that is close to one of the popular Hindu pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand, Badrinath. Mana village that is stuck in an old warm charm is the home to the Indo-Mangolian tribes who are mostly dependent on agriculture. Nonetheless… your visit to Mana village will lead you to discover their traditional handicrafts – hand woven shawls, carpets or durries and sweaters – and thereafter A CUP OF TEA at the LAST TEA STALL IN INDIA.
If you are an avid adventurer then the Agora village is a must to explore that comes on your way if you hit the Dodital trail via Uttarkashi and Sangam Chatti. The picturesque village of Agora set on the slope of the Garhwal Himalaya is a home to few hundred families who are mostly dependent on cattle farming. Surrounded by rhododendron forest and dotted with several exotic flora and snow capped mountains… the Agora village is one of the best places for birding and camping. The outback magic spell of the Agora village is a haven for trekkers heading towards Dodital, which is a freshwater lake at an altitude of 3,024 meters.
Famed for being one of the best eco-tourism destinations in India, Sikkim that covers mostly the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve is a home to a diversified species of plants, animals and birds… pulling in a mass of travellers from all over the world. The exotic panorama of the Khangchendzonga and its sister peaks, glaciers and alpine lakes, rich montane forests skirting the remote settlements of the Lepchas, Bhutias, and Nepalese makes a gratifying and vivid mental image for the travellers. On the other hand… the cultural fusion between the Lepchas, Bhutias, and Nepalese is another striking feature for the travellers who are keen about the Sikkim folk and their lifestyle.
The rustic environment in Sikkim is quite different from all other parts in the Indian Himalayan region. The majority of the rural population is Nepalese, whereas most of the remote settlements in Sikkim are Lepchas and Bhutias. The distinct folk dances, music and festivals are the best ways to distinguish the different culture in Sikkim. The indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are both one of its kind local form of music that you must experience once in your lifetime on your rural tour to Sikkim. Further… the Indo-Tibetan festivals like Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu; Hindu festivals like Diwali, Dusshera, Maghe Sankranti; AND Islamic festivals like Eid and Muharram are also celebrated by the folk with huge fanfare.
The ultimate rural experience for a traveller touring in Sikkim will be at the villages of Lachen in North Sikkim and Chumbung in West Sikkim. Lachen at an elevation of 2,750 meters is one of the remote villages that house a sparse settlement of the Lepchas and Bhutias… whereas Chumbung is a home to some of the Nepalese ethnic groups. Lachen, abundant in wildlife also commands a panoramic vista of the Himalayan mountain ranges and forms a gateway to the Gurudongmar Lake (5,200 meters)… which is one of the high altitude trekking destinations in Sikkim. Whereas Chumbung makes a wonderful rural retreat in the midst of colourful rhododendron forest. But travellers seeking for bit of adventure in Chumbung can head for short trails to Rangit valley, Yesoltsoling Monastery, Durpine Dara, Tanki Dara, Nag Dhunga, Goru Jurey Dara, and Noobling Gumpa.
The mystery of the country side in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra
Rajasthan is where one will find the opulence of nature and heritage twisted to a shimmering wand of wonder. Be it colour, the scent of spice or the sand dunes, the rusticity of Rajasthan will keep you glued in. Rajasthani villages are culturally engaged too. I would have definitely not liked to see imported cars and concrete floors. For a tourist visiting Rajasthan for the first time it is actually difficult to find a village amidst the long stretches of barren lands. It’s only the herd of cattle that rings a bell in your mind. Well Dhani is picturesque… a cluster of mud houses, children playing gill danda, women with their faces covered with long veils moving towards the central well of the village. The crops when ripe are the only asset to the villagers who are extremely united. A stay in Dhani will determine that life there is far more sultry from the life of women draped in colourful ghagra choli of the paintings of city artists.
There are many other tribes of Rajasthan residing in different villages. These people are certainly isolated from the main stream. Circa 1400 B.C. Rajasthan was majorly ruled by a tribe called Meena. In terms of festivals, music and customs the Meenas are quite fresh. Majority of Meenas are Hindu and stay in Chittaurgarh.The seventh day of Navratri is celebrated with pomp, acrobatics and sword play. In the name of lord Vishnu they celebrate Meenish Jayanti. Now what the Meenas have actually given us to treasure is the traditional meena jewellery. The Kundan meena jewellery is a traditional form of jewelry used with gold and with silver. It is believed to be the oldest form of jewellery in India .It is also called Jaipuri jewellery or kundan jewellery.
The traditional diorama of Rajasthan can also be explored at some other places in Rajasthan like Nawalgarh, Samod, and Toddarising. Touring in Rajasthan… how one can escape from visiting the age old mansions (havelis), temples, and stepwells? Nawalgarh that is approximately 150 kilometers (north) from Jaipur is famous for its fresco and havelis, whereas Todarising, which is 150 kilometers (south) from Jaipur and home to the influential Jain community, hosts several small step wells.
Historically, these regions have been prone to penury linked to drought. But, poverty is likely to become more long lasting as ground water irrigation and out-migration are likely to fail.
The pre-historic sites inciting the Indus Valley Civilization, majestic portrait of the Sultanates, flame of the Indian Independence movement… and unique-scape of the Great Rann of Kutch… that’s all about tourism in Gujarat? What about the folklore, music, dance, festivals, art and architecture? The Gujarati folk culture is quite different from rest of India, which one can easily come across from their cuisine, festivals and attire.
The rustic chapter of Gujarat today is one of the major highlights along with all other major tourist destinations in Gujarat. What about the Vautha Mela that is dedicated to Lord Kartik and one of the major religious events amongst the Gujarat folk? Vautha is a small village that is approximately 60 kilometers from Ahmedabad at the confluence of seven rivers. The Vautha Mela is followed by trading of donkeys, usually by the gypsy traders and travellers can enjoy various forms of Gujarati folk dance and music at this time.
Beyond the characteristics of rural life… sunset, stars and stories etched on the sands of Hodka village at the heart of the Banni grassland in Rann of Kutch are endowments to a different chapter of rural tourism in India. The village of Hodka is approximately 70 kilometers from Bhuj and travellers can connect to the traditional assets of the Kutch region such as architecture and arts, music and dance, textiles and cuisine. The mastery of the local folk in mud craft is best reflected in the Bhungas. The desert settlement is resplendent with the colourful attire of the women folk. Camel continues to be traditional mode of transport.
Another best way to explore the rural culture of Gujarat is at the Heritage Village in Tera that is about 80 kilometers from Bhuj. The historical village today houses the ruins of the Tera fort and several architectural assests like havelis and temples. The rustic ambiance lies when you will come across various forms of arts including Bandhani, block printing, mirror work and Jats embroidery.
Maharashtra is not just Mumbai to a traveller. It has a plethora of tourism joints and many of them are located in the rural areas. Gorai is a village in Dharavi Bhet, the North-western part of the island of Salsette near Mumbai. Gorai is less polluted and swimming is a bliss here. It doesn’t have the pollution of the metropolitan Mumbai and provides you the serenity surrounded by beaches and palm trees. Bullock carts are still in use here. The Essel World amusement park has been set up in Gorai, by expropriating lands from the East Indians. The global Vipassana Pagoda, built in the shape of Shewdagon Pagoda of Myanamar is a DOMELESS PAGODA.
Mahabalshwar is a place characterized by the unity of scenic beauty and industrial worth. It might not exactly fall in the group rural lands; however it’s quite far from the din and bustle of the metro life. A fruit as sweet, good to look at and high value like strawberry is grown in the sides of Mahabaleshwar. The farmers of the konkan, where strawberries are reared also rear bananas.
Manori provides you an escapade from the pollution of city life. A traveller would be touched by the hospitality of the localities. Some of the popular dishes are Pork Vindaloo and Sorpotel, Chicken Raan, Stuffed Pomfret, Dry Bombay duck chutney, rotis, Prawns chilly fry and fried bombay duck.
The mystery of the countryside in Central India
Moving on to the next state we pause at Madhaya Pradesh. Rural tourism is the most famous haunt of Madhya Pradesh. There is uniqueness in every village that are spaced in little distance. However if you want to feel the fragrance of the unknown facets of Madhaya Pradesh, you must visit Orchha. Though the word Orchha means “hidden place”… it is now exposed for the exploration of the travellers from different parts of the world. The way this ancient rural land is amalgamated with heritage called the Chattris of Orchha is stunning. The fourteen Chattris of Orcha were created to commemorate the rulers of the region. The Laxmi Narayn temple is another attraction in Orchha. The temple is enriched with beautiful frescoes and wall paintings.
The Ram Raja temple is a dedicated to Lord Rama after a raja saw him in his dream.
The Diman Hardaiuls Palace is an architectural masterpiece that depicts the love between two brothers. Jhujhar, the elder brother of Hardoul, suspected that his brother was amorously linked to his old friend. Hardoul, who had a pious bent of life on the other hand sacrificed his life to prove his virtuous nature to his brother, thereby earning the respect of his brother.
Raj Mahal and Rai Parveen are architectures a traveler wouldn’t like to miss. As the name indicates this palace is royal, exotic and was initiated during the reign of Rudra Pratap.
Next is a must visit attraction called Jehengir Mahal. A stupendous 5 storied building with 8 pavillions and beautiful indoor carvings are what make it memorable.
Chaturbhuj temple is our next place to stop and have a look at. The building is a remnant of the rich cultural heritage of the erstwhile era.
Then comes a change from history to nature. The Orchha Wild Life Sanctuary will give you greenery and wildness that you might have been longing for after the heavy and intoxicating dosage of culture and history.
Madhaya Pradesh has the largest forest cover; hence definitely a part of the rural life breeds in the jungle too. Forestry in Madhya Pradesh has a significant rural industry and a perennial source to maintain the ecological balance.
The banks of Bedaghat will be another view which is remote, less known but you wouldn’t like to miss. Bedeghat has the asset of marble wall along the banks of narmada. A glimpse of the same in a moonlit night cannot be afforded to be missed.
Chattisgarh is another destination which does not cease to enthrall me. It has assets bordered by dense jungles on all the sides. A traveler like me might bump into this state for sites like elegant waterfalls and mandirs.
Chitrakote, situated 38 km from Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar district in Chhattisgarh, is a barren rocky terrain infiltrated by deciduous forest and adorned by a beautiful and elegant waterfall cascading down to a smoky hole. The best season to visit jagadalpur is during the summers, around March and April, because this is the time when most of the festivals are celebrated here. Food is unique and a traveler would like to include such recipes in the diary for sure… chutney is their favourite- a special chutney called chapra chutney with red wild ants is lip smacking to them. Others include Amat, a mixture of water rice and flour with sour elements. Leaves constitute the vegetable preparation. Phuttu or mushroom is what they make in the middle of the year. You just not enjoy food and tribal dance but carry bits and pieces to home. The rurals with their restricted knowledge of the world will amaze you with their skilled craftsmanship. A whole lot of items made of stone bamboo and wood are found in ample qauntities. This is their livelihood.
The rural here are as close to Mother Nature as the place itself. If you did not have had enough of the waterfall experience then you have the Kukurghumer(dog waterfalls) and tamda ghumer. This region is also artistically enriched. Delicate works of terracotta, wrought iron and bamboo are astonishing. A night stay can gift you the sight of a moon lit night along the banks of the water body and a platter composed of local soupmaldh sulfi chndh landa.
Being a forest land, the entire area is inhibited by creatures which tickle the adventurous mind of a traveller. Animals such as Craig cobra, checkered keel, backwater snakes, and crocodiles haunt the terrestrials.
The mystery of Countryside in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Assam
Nagaland is what a traveller is reminded of when he thinks of adventure and mystery- terraced fields, bright foliage and flowers, lush greenery all surrounded by the mighty jungles. Wokha is inhibited by the Lotha tribe. The fantastic weather there provides an apt situation for the production of pesticides, fertilizers , oranges and pineapples. But there is more of Wokha that a traveller can enjoy, a tourist village which holds the distinction of being a make shift stable for the horses during World war 2…There still stands a bunglow to entertain travelers amidst the mystic.
Tourism in Nagaland has been given a new lease of life by state tourism government in 2010 and 2011 by highlighting the festivals of the tribals. Tsungremmong celebration at the Longsa village in Mokokchung district, one of the tourist destination villages in the state has celebrated Tsungremmong festival as a permanent feature of rural tourism. The Ao tribes of Nagas soak themselves in mirth and frolic during the festival. It is organized for good harvest and better life. In fact this festival is celebrated on the eve of harvest in August. The specialty of this festival is a game of tug of war between the men and women where ultimately the men let the women take the honors. The food fiesta is noticed with rice beer in bamboo mugs which any traveler would like to have. No outsiders are allowed to enter the village during the Festival. Food attractions of Nagaland include Snail and red chilli.
The land of three most indigenous tribes in India, Khashi, Garo and Jaintia…Meghalaya makes a complete contrasting chapter in the rustic part of Indian tourism. Marked by matrilineal system where the lineage and inheritance are traced through women, Meghalaya houses a distinct tribal culture that can be observed in the form of folk dance, music, festivals, ritual practices, arts, and cuisine. In other words… Meghalaya is famed for hosting several natural caves that makes it one of the heartthrob destinations for spelunkers. It is also noted as an eco-tourism destination in India with vast stretch of montane forests, waterbodies, and wildlife.
The village of Lalong in the Jaintia hill region is noted for several adventure activities like forest trails, spelunking, and rock climbing. Lalong is a small village housing few hundred families belonging to Jaintia tribes. These people are locally known by different names such as Syntengs, Jayantias and Pnars and are skilled in hunting and agriculture. Your stay at Lalong along with these tribes will surely give you a vivid picture of the distinct lifestyle of the Jaintias.
Located in the Garo hill region, Sasatgre village is alike a knowledge guide that displays a vivid picture of the Garo traditions. Sasatgre gains its popularity mainly from the excellent oranges that it produces every year. They have a vast orange plantation, and the entire village is surrounded by dark green orange trees. People love the oranges of Sasatgre as they are not only tasty and juicy but also healthy. The village is now on the side-line of the Nokrek Gene Sanctuary cum Biosphere Reserve.
On the other hand, Mawlynnong village in East Kashi hills is quite popular as an eco-tourism destination in Meghalaya to both domestic and international tourists. It is often dubbed as Asia’s cleanest village with approximately 100 households who are mostly dependent on cultivation of betel nuts and several forms of tribal arts. Camping, spelunking, forest trails, and wildlife safaris are some of the adventure activities that a traveller can indulge in at Mawlynnong village. You can also visit the Living Root Bridge and Natural Balancing Rock. Other than that the indigenous culture of the Khasi tribes is very much a feast for a traveller’s eyes.
Overlapped on the flood plain of the Brahmaputra River… Assam is far famed for Assam tea and world heritage sites of Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park. But much of tourism in Assam is yet to be discovered by general tourists… although a traveller might have explored the best of it that lies deep into the countryside that include villages like Majuli, Durgapur, Dehing-Patakai Kshetra, Sualkuchi, and Asharikandi.
Majuli is one of the popular villages in India that is located on an island in the Brahmaputra River, which is the world’s biggest river island. It is the home to the Mising tribes from Arunachal Pradesh who immigrated here centuries ago and are largely dependent on fishing, agriculture, and handicraft. The major attraction is the neo-Vaisnavite culture that was initiated around 15th century by the revered Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciple Madhavdeva. The culture finds its distinct form in its main surviving satras – Dakhinpat Satra Garamurh Satra, Auniati Satra Kamalabari Satra, Benegenaati Satra, and Shamaguri Satra.
If you are seeking to experience the rural lifestyle of the Keont community who are mostly below poverty line… then visit to Durgapur village in Golaghat district is must. These villagers are dependent on agriculture and animal husbandry but are in stake because of the proximity to the Kaziranaga National Park. Although the village provides experiences of culture, craft, food habit and lifestyle of Assamese Baishnavite communities to the tourists. These people are skilled in producing Asomia outfits and bamboo crafts. Likewise… if you are visiting the villages of Sualkuchi in Kamrup district and Asharikandi in Dhubri district you will be acquainting other two form of handloom products, Patta and Moga Silk AND terracotta craft respectively.
Benegenaati Satra, and Shamaguri Satra. The mystery of Countryside in South India
A traveler can quench his thirst to sip the last drop nectar of nature by traveling in a train from Jagadalpur to Vishakapattanam through a series of tunnels and breathtaking scenic beauty .This brings us to Andhra Pradesh, the eight largest state of the country.
There are two regions of the state namely Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Nature has bestowed this place with the Eastern Ghats, Nallamala forest and two deltas. Being the largest producer of rice, the state is often called the rice bowl of India. It being a coastal region, the climate is more or less on the warmer side. July to September is the time when a traveler can visit the rural countryside of Andhra Pradesh and soak in the rain drenched view of the green mountains and the sea. It is one of the most educated states of the country; hence the region is rich in literature, music and arts. The famous dance form Kuchipudi originated here. The harvest festival Sankranti that’s practiced elsewhere too originated here.
Different rural tribes of this state cater to the aesthetics of the travelers. Andhra Pradesh is famous for dolls made of muds and soft stones. The village of Durgi is famous for idols in soft stone that need to be exposed to shade for drying up. The inventive Kalamkari art took birth nowhere else but in Andhra Pradesh. The Kalamkari form of art is a type of hand painted or block printed cotton textile .There are two kinds of kalamkari-Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam. The Srikalahasti style is one in which a hand or a kalam is used and is filled with colours. The designed dote on flowered and mythological figures. Machilipatnam, on the other hand, deals in vegetable dye.
Andhra Pradesh has a cluster of tribal knowledge to offer that has always attracted not just travellers but anthropologists from afar. There are almost 33 lacs tribals and 50 lacs nomads and OBCs. A traveller would definitely like to spend a few days with the primitives and experience what life is without amusements and luxuries. The short stout dark complexioned people with snubbed noses and crinkled hair display their artistry in ways their houses are built. Some of the tribes follow business while others contribute to the cottage industries by making mat items and bamboo items. The innocence of the tribes who dance, sing and make arrangements for their own recreation is captivating.
Moving on to is another pride of the south, Tamil Nadu, located in the southern most part of the Indian peninsula. It is the 11th largest state and is home to many natural resources, classical music, classical literature and even classical Dravidian Architecture. The flora and fauna of the will put a traveller indecisive…as to whether invade the archictures first or the forestry. There are almost 2000 species of wildlife that are inhabitants of the forests, including tigers, elephants, sloth bears and gaurs
Although rural tourism is getting promoted off late, it holds the credit of lot of skill and artistry since ages. There are so many villages in TN that they will fill the pages of a notebook of an explorer. Kalavi is a modern village in TN in Vellore district .This place holds to her credit the famous Sankara mataha Hindu monastery for its long time religious leader Mahaswamingal Of Kanchi. Visitors get a view or darshan of the deity from the shankarachryar who perfoms the rites of dhanurmasa and trikala. The other temples of Kalavi date back to the 10th Century
Mahendravadi is a small village situated near Shulingur Railways station of TN. This place is famous for the mahendravadi rock temple crafted by the mighty pallava king mahendra varman 1
Rasipuram is famous for its authentic ghee and handloom sarees. It is also famous for its huge Shiva temple. The main occupation of this region is weaving sarees and dhotis.
Another interesting place would be Dhanushkodi. Amidst the natural abundances lies a supernatural world…yes I am talking about the supernatural and ghostly temple of Dhanushkodi. The ruins of the Dhanushkodi temple which was otherwise WAS washed away by the cyclone of 1964 doesn’t besmirch its cultural significance anyway.
The striking feature that puts Kerala side is it being highest in literacy rate hence highest life expectancy rate and most balanced sex ratio. Not only educationally but naturally also it contributes to the national output by her production of pepper and natural rubber, coconut, tea cashew and coffee to a large extent. Kerala is famous for her backwaters, beaches and ayurvedic tourism .The heart of this state beats loudly on the rural sides, though. The paddy green fields, swaying coconut, pristine backwaters provides a paraxial experience to the travelers. An entire planned village is being developed now to showcase the artistic skills of the villagers and this is attracting more and more travelers.
There areas are near the village Kozikhode, called Iringal. A traveler would get quite a lot of facilities in this village which has mingled business with art.
Kumarokom is a conglomeration of islands and one of the favorite tourist villages. It is well known for its fresh water fish species karimeen. Chemmen and prawns. Kovalam has been recording the highest footprints of visitors every year owing to the natural beauty of the place and the various activities like coconut leave weaving coir making etc.
Karnataka is physiographically beautiful. A state that brags the presence of the software hub of the country that is Bangalore… it also has many villages to her glory where not even electricity has reached. Neriga Village is one such village where even the basic infrastructures are missing- no hospitals, no schools, no police, no markets and even no electricity. Now it is weird but the crudity and inaccessibility of this place makes it more appealing to a traveler. The primary occupation of the residents of Neriga village is agriculture. The agricultural production includes paddy (rice), raagi, roja, kanakambara and some vegetables. The villagers display their stunning craftsmanship in making earthen pots and other works of marble and sandalwood. The ivory and sandal wood products not only give delight to the travelers but are exported.
The regions of Kinnal and Gokak in north Karnataka and Channapatna on the Bangaluru are famous for doll making. A traveler would like to become a part of the doll making ceremony that starts with the advent of Dussera.The festival involves the exhibition of dolls for nine long days. The people mostly take up doll making as a profession.
Mysore painting that reels the story of ancient classical ages is prevalent in all the art forms of the state. Apart from these wood carving and ivory carving also steal audience’s glance.
The mystery of Countryside in West Bengal and Odhisha
West Bengal will never cease to amaze travelers with its idyllic rural haunts. It is the land of culture and handicrafts and the roots are deeply embedded in the pages of history. Several dyansties like Maurya Gupta and Pala left their impression through different architectural masterpieces. Academically and industrially this state is fast developing .However if a traveller is in Bengal for the first time, he must experience the authenticity of this place through a journey in the country side. The villages of Bankura Purulia and Shantipur and Bolepur reverberate with stories of art and talent.
Bolepur happens to be the place where the great Tagore most of the time of his life and started the great open air educational system in Shantiniketan. The canvas in and around Shantiniketan mainly dwelled by tribals is comprised of the beautiful Kopai river with red stoned river banks .The famous Poush mela that declares the commencement of the season of harvest and where traders from different parts of the country exhibit their skills, grabs the interest of thousands of travelers. The other elements of tourist attraction includes Basanata Utsav where the localites play with colours and gives in to the spirit of songs and dance forms propounded and preached by Tagore.
Shantipur holds the credit of designing and manufacturing the traditional Bengali saree called Tant. Tant sarees are now even worn in Bollywood and a bulk is exported too.
No, West Bengal wouldn’t let you cross its boarders without giving you a taste of the magnificent tribal dance form called Chaau. On one hand the thick forests of Purulia are invincible and on the other hand the Chaau dancers wear Seraikella masks prepared by the village mates. They put on thick eyebrows and thick hair and play mythological characters like Rama and Sita. The music accompanied by the tribal musical instruments creates a perfect ambience to send shivers down the spine.
Odhisha provides a traveller a mixed platter of sea mountains and a big canvas to depict the tribal characteristics Rayagada and Koraput give you a taste of rusticity with tribal dance ,folk music .The present existence of old rituals and practices gives an evidence to the cultural integrity of the state.Ghumra dance is a special attraction which holds the tribal spirit of the region.
India is said to be a land of multifarious cultures and colours. Every year flood of tourists comes and goes and carries back memories of different significant places or their attributes. The cities will continue to develop, festivals will keep on amusing travelers, food will always delight our palates what makes our heart,the cul-de-sac for evergreen memories of India is strongly weaved in the rural fabrics of our nation.
Please note: This is a research based article. I have tried to give a glimpse of some of the unexplored villages in India skipping most of the popular villages that are part of rural tourism in India. Readers are requested to “highlight” by commenting below any such villages you came across, which I will try to execute in this article (later) if found anything interesting from a traveller’s point of view.