Residents of a remote Uttarkashi village showing ray of hope to migration-plagued Uttarakhand
Homestay augments farm income of villagers
By converting his 500- year- old traditional house into a cozy resting place for the tourists under the homestay scheme, Vijay Singh Rana of Raithal village located in Uttarkashi district is setting up an example in a state where instead of augmenting their income, people choose to migrate to cities in search of jobs. Rana is not alone in this picturesque village offering a breathtaking view of the Gangotri glacier and lively Bhagirathi who has adopted homestay scheme to supplement their farming income. They are many others who are doing the same, taking the lead of Rana.
Raithal village is located at the base of the famous tourist destination, Dayara buggy ( alpine meadow) and from here the adventure- seeking tourists trek a distance of about nine kilometers that wade through a dense Oak forest to reach the picture- perfect pristine meadow located at an altitude of 3500 meters above the mean sea level ( MSL) . One can reach Raithal by traveling about 10 km on a small serpentine road that deviates from the Gangotri highway near Bhatwari about 40 km from Uttarkashi town.
Taking advantage of the inflow of tourists, many in Raithal and nearby Barsu villages have converted one or two rooms in their houses into home-stays.
Informing about his venture into the tourism sector, Rana told The Pioneer that in 2015, he was persuaded by the Balaji Sewa Sansthan ( BSS) to include his ancestral house in the homestay scheme. “The BSS fellows visited our village and surveyed the old homes. They said that by adopting the homestay concept, we could boost our income. They provided us mattresses, quilts, crockery aside from imparting some basic training on hospitality. There are eight persons in the village who are associated with homestay scheme presently,’’ he said.
The house of Rana was found to be 500 years old by the department of archaeology and now it has become a hit with those who visit the village. “Fifty tourists had stayed in my house last year and this year sixty tourists have already visited. We provide simple home cooked food to them and charge nominal sums from them. The tourists leave for Dayara in the morning after taking the breakfast and return by late evening due to which our routine life of working in the fields and tending the animals is not affected,’’ Rana said. Like other families of Raithal, Rana earns decently by selling apples, kidney bean, pea and potatoes, and the homestay scheme has given a fillip to their earnings.
Jairaj Singh, the elder son of Rana who completed his graduation last year, said that apart from acting as the guide for the tourists, he is now helping his father in the homestay. “Why should I migrate to a city and do menial jobs when I can earn handsomely in my own village?’’ asked the 21- year- old while sporting a beaming face.
The holiday-makers who stay in the traditional house have a once in a lifetime experience. “This house made of stone and wood is very cosy and warm as it has very low ceiling. The view from covered balcony (Tibari) is simply transcendental. By staying here one can experience the lifestyle of hills aside from enjoying the celestial beauty of the Himalayas,’’ said Navraj Singh, a resident of Sydney who along with his friends stayed in Raithal. read more posts…
Monday, 26 November 2018 | Gajendra Singh Negi | Dehradun–
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