CHENNAI: While exquisite locations and exotic experiences make for popular holidays, so does going rural. Bullock carts, huts and tribal dances seem to be the new thrill for several tourists who opt for them over private jets, presidential suites and the zumba.
Subrato Mukherjee, director of Indianmemoirz, says that when he founded the company six months ago, there was hardly any demand for his “rural” tours. Today, he gets at least two bookings a week. “Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and the north-east are among our most popular destinations,” says Mukherjee. “We take families into villages and the entire holiday is basically about living and interacting with the villagers. What I’ve found is that several families like this kind of holiday because they say it brings their children closer to nature and reality. Families get to cook, hunt and celebrate with the village,” says Mukherjee. Of course, it all comes at a price. For instance, a couple of nights in a village could set you back over Rs 15,000 a night per person.
Says Chaitanya Singh of A la Concierge, “Rural tours to the villages of Kerala, Rajasthan and Bhutan are very popular.” Wayanad and Alappuzha in Kerala; Mamallapuram and a couple of private herbal villages including the one at Thandurai in Tamil Nadu are some that promise an interesting experience.
“Tourists get a chance to take part in agricultural activities planting rice saplings, tapping and collecting latex in rubber plantations at Wayanad. Village walks and treks with proper guides are also arranged,” says Sumesh, who runs Kabani, a community-based tourism initiative at Thrikkaipatta in Wayanad and also in Alappuzha.
“I took an experiential vacation in Wayanad a year-and-a-half ago because I wanted to be away from crowded tourist spots and live in a natural setting. I stayed in a home stay and got to eat local food,” says Vignesh Kumar, a Chennaiite, who took a vacation organised by Kabani in Thrikkaipatta village, Kerala. Though foreigners usually prefer such activities, this year many Indians have also opted for it, says Sumesh.
Hi Tours, a Chennai-based destination marketing and conference company, is planning to ready a six-acre coconut farm as a farm stay destination for tourists seeking a rural experience at Chungathara in Malappuram district, Kerala.
“We are planning to allow tourists to put manure for coconut trees, de-husk coconuts, and go fishing in a nearby tributary of Punnapuzha. The place will hopefully be ready by next year. Tourists who arrive here can also go to nearby Nedumkayam forest to see wild elephants being tamed and also Aruvacode to try their hands at making clay pots,” says M K Ajith Kumar, vice president of Hi Tours.