Author Archives: Babit Gurung

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Is “Tourism” promoting Colonisation?

How and why?

It is more than just a hypothetical theory to say that the word “Tourist” has a wider definition than the whole concept of Tourism. The word was commonly in use way before the word “Tourism” came into existence. So, the concept of tourism is merely an amendment of how people define “Tourists”.

The common proverb in India ” Atithi Devo Bhava”, that has become the sanctum of Tourism in India nowhere defines Tourism. The concept of Tourism has more realistic existence in terms of market fundamentalism of today’s neo-liberal era. Today it has become a symbol of the dominance of one’s culture upon the other. It has become a source of spreading colonization all over the world indirectly inspiring and influencing the extinction of cultural diversity. Tourism as a social phenomenon is not shaping with the changing culture, social practices, and globalized economy but in fact, is adversely implementing the change. It is the colonization of western culture gradually pushing the other culture into the category of ethnic, primitive and reserved. As a result, most of those cultures have turned into tourism products and are now reserved only for the events, stages, and showcases.

Places you will never find the Definition of Tourism in India.

Tourism in India is more like an uncontrolled flow of religious people visiting Ghats, Mandirs, and Masjids. Here the concept of Atithi-Devo Bhava is and was nowhere to be seen. A sense of equality is seen among the crowd that doesn’t differentiate people according to their culture and class. No one is Athithi but a disciple or a follower in the crowd. The definition of Tourism products and Services in terms of the international and market standards does not match in such type of tourism in India. The rooms with only basic needs with no western style toilets, fetch the travelers whose only purpose of the visit will be religious and spiritual. There is merely any significance of categorizing domestic and international tourists here. This type of Tourism, if defined in today’s terms, is more primitive and has remained nearly unchanged and so, it stands out of the topic.

Tourism is said to be a leisurely social practice since it rarely engages any earning activity. It is the true form of expenditure that does not build up any visible assets and liabilities in exchange. It is a business of anticipated experiences that should be delivered through all the five senses of Human nature. Beautiful view of nature and architecture, good food, different types of languages and music, unpolluted and fresh air to breathe and the feeling of cold in the Himalayas, the wetness of sea, and the warmth of Desert are all the products of Tourism. The question now remains is how Tourism is pushing the primitive cultures into a mere stage show? Well, it all starts with the arrival of ” Alternative Tourists”.

Who are “Alternative Tourists”?

The story begins with a remote village. The tradition and culture are nowhere in such a state that they need an up-gradation. People are still happy. The consumption of resources has not crossed the danger line. No one has ever matched their standard of living comparatively with any other standards. The standards that are always on a quest of delivering more and more. Then a traveler arrives who is like a fugitive hiding from the fear of imprisonment of modernity. He or she loves to travel back to the time where there are no targets, less competition, over-eating is a word that does not exist and yet more to arise every day. The traveler who is more like an alien inspires them and opens a window of fantasy showing things to the villagers they had never dreamt of. They realize that they live a hard and unhappy life, away from the basic health care facilities, uneducated, uncivilized, unhygienic, under paid  and many more things. Then comes the realization that their culture and tradition is something they can sell in exchange to acquire that life of fantasy. The warm family rug converts into an elegant dining, that cozy room starts seeming congested and the traditional and cultural practices become outdated and vague. Following the traveler, who was a true Atithi ( Guest), an alternative tourist, now there are no more guests who create no demands in exchange for their money. They bring their world of modernity along with them. So, now the villagers adopt the life of fantasy and keep their own under the curtains and hide them.  Their earlier life now becomes a product to sell, a drama for the theatre, all exclusively to be exchanged for money. Above all an Industry is established – Tourism.


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The wine tours of Darjeeling and Sikkim

5 Sedative Local Drinks you shouldn’t Skip While Traveling Bengal

Traveling Bengal is a little different experience than traveling to other states of India. The vast number of communities you will find after every 5 km is certainly a thrilling experience for every traveler. Not only do they differ in the way they look, but also their culture, tradition, language, and lifestyle. So, when it comes to exploring the diversity of the colors, you should never miss the taste. Keeping aside the types and tastes of different traditional cuisines, this post will help you more on the wet flavors that quench the thirst of your throat. Now, as just wetting the throat will not give any flavor,  there is a little addition of sedation as well.

As there are many communities, this post gives you the information on the tribe as well. The method of distillation may match with all the communities but the taste and flavor are what make them different.

Rhododendron Wine –  Darjeeling’s Delight and Sikkim’s Sedation.

Traveling Bengal

Rhododendron wine

Locally named as ” Gurans ko Raksi”,  it is a traditionally distilled brewage of Darjeeling and Sikkim region. It is made from none other than the beautiful Rhododendron flowers that blossom during early March to Late July. The Hill people drink it as a medicinal drink. The charming Red Color of this brewage may look similar to a red wine, but the taste is surprisingly different. With little sour and leafy flavor containing the aroma of the petals of Rhododendron Flower, this drink will insulate you amidst the chilling weather of Darjeeling and Sikkim.

 

 

Raksi – A brewage made of Millet and Rice.

This Brewage is the most common drink and you can have it anytime traveling Bengal. The crystal clear color may seem like a Vodka, but the taste is somewhat similar to Nepal’s traditional Drink “Ayla”. The only difference is that Raksi is made of Millet and Ayla is made of different grains mixed together. Raksi has three qualities depending on its alcoholic percentage.

Locally classified into three category – 

Traveling Bengal - The local Drinks of Bengal

Raksi- the local drink of Hills of Bengal

  1. Ek Paaney ( The first level distillation)  – The alcoholic content is very strong. So all the whiskey and Vodka lovers can try this.
  2. Dui Paaney ( The second ) – The alcoholic content is moderate.
  3.  Tin Paaney – This is the most common because locals mostly consume this.

Normally, you would certainly prefer the first one because it has all the strong flavors that you can enjoy. The locals may charge you a little higher for this drink.

 

Tongba – The Bamboo Drink

Served in a beautifully crafted Bamboo Vessel along with a thick Bamboo Straw, Tongba is

Offbeat travel Bengal

Tongba- a local drink of Bengal

a common drink among most of the indigenous Himalayan tribes like Lepchas, Tamangs and Tibetans. The drink is made of fermented millet grain that you need to directly sip after pouring the hot water in the Bamboo Vessel. Often served with

 

Barbecued pork, Tongba is also served traditionally during festivals. Nowadays, you may even find Tongba Bars on the streets of Sikkim and Darjeeling. So if you are traveling Bengal, this is the only drink that you can enjoy even at the busy Marketplaces, unlike the above-mentioned drinks.

Jaand or Chhaang – The Millet Beer

The local Drinks of Darjeeling and Sikkim

Chaang or Jaand – The Millet Beer of Darjeeling of Sikkim

This drink is made in the same way Tongba is made. The only difference is the presentation and drinking style. Chang or Jaand is the juice of millet prepared after squeezing the fermented millet. This drink is quite heavy as it is

nothing but the flour of Millet mixed with hot water. You may have a filled stomach after drinking Chang. You can even take this as an alternative to carb drinks.

 

Handiya – The Rice Beer

This drink is more common in the Plain areas. This drink is more common amongst the tribes of plain areas like Urao, Sautal, Rabha, Toto, Mechiyas etc. Made of fermented rice this drink too is similar to chhaang, but has a different taste and flavor because it is made of Rice.

The other form of Rice beer is Nigar. It is not the squeezed rice but the wine. The distillation of rice wine happens naturally during it fermenting stage.

Indian Local Wines

Nigar – The Rice Wine

 

Dooars drink

Handiya – The rice beer

 

Now that you have known all about the local drinks of Bengal, you need to plan a route that will take you to this less traveled routes of Bengal. Traveling Bengal with Meaningful Travel India is fun and adventurous because here you will hear the voice assistance of Hosts and not the travel agents. Get your travel plan customised and travel through a local’s perspective. So call us, hear us and reach us anytime, every time for the offbeat travel plans of Bengal.

<<Reach Us Here>>

 

 

 


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Meaningful Journeys India

Where does your Money truly go in Rural tourism in India?

 

“Am I too robotic that I can’t feel anything through my heart? Why do I always need to either drink, smoke or anyhow get high to embrace the happiness of traveling?” Yes, it’s true because I have seen many travelers go through this so predictably. The demands have become extravagantly commercial and the travel industries now showcase them as products although reluctantly. If on one side there are such travelers, then on the other side there are some who really follow the positive aspects of Tourism. In this context, Rural tourism in India is truly for the latter category of travelers.

To put some light on the true practice of Rural Tourism in India and its impact on the environment, there are few observations that can truly help any Meaningful Traveler to understand the divinity of this concept.

The stakeholders of Rural Tourism:

Who are they? Are they some tycoon entrepreneurs whose annual focus is always on profit and loss statement? No, but they are those people who fear the crowd of cities, can’t breathe under city’s polluted atmosphere, and who like to watch open sky illuminated by stars every night. Their focus is on necessities rather than luxuries because they have everything as blessings from nature. People there believe in the language of smiles rather than greasy words and above all, they love and protect their environment along with their culture and tradition. They don’t negotiate with you on price and costs.

So, they are just charging you for what you would have paid as a donation to save any destination from the clutches of Urbanization. They are your hosts and not a middleman trying to slice out a portion of your travel expenses as a commission with no intention to care for the natural beauty of any destination.

Why the Word ” Rural”?

You’ve traveled enough through the artificial urban luxuries. The trained smiles and refined greetings now don’t really touch you. Imagine if this was the only type of experience left for you everywhere you go. The hotel beds with white bed-sheets, and decorated walls exhibiting the beauty only through pictures and sculptures. All such luxuries only take you farther from nature. Only ” Rural” is the word that now still remains in its pure natural existence. Every year due to travelers changing their taste and demanding more of artificial luxuries, such rural destinations are too getting exploited. The rural people too now have lost their ethnicity and soberness. Money has ruled out their culture and tradition and travelers have become more like invaders. Now it’s time the meaningful travelers think about their money that they spend while traveling. The rural tourism in India is now on its way to change the scenario.

The question that remains is ” Would the travelers really feel it?” Would they ever realize what their expenses will bring out in future?


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offbeat destinations of India

When you say “offbeat Destination”….

Category : Uncategorized

I often hear this word more regularly nowadays, but, what the word precisely means, somehow is lost in the trend. “Will you suggest me an offbeat destination away from the urbanised crowd ?” It sounds more like a metaphor to boast that,”we are not amateurs and you better get it clear”.

If you want to explore the sublime beauty of the offbeat destinations of North Bengal, my perception of an offbeat destination might help a lot before you ruin your journey.

Be Ready for a bumpy ride, or if worse,  to test your real stamina.

How often do you walk between your house and the workplace? You may consider a lot to you regular jogging habit. That really doesn’t really count apart from giving you the confidence initially. So, do not say a word when you don’t mean it, or else accept it and be ready for the circumstances. The back aches, joint pains, and breathing problems are  going to come out all at once.So, the road connectivity is still a question to make compromises.

Be Ready to be on the List of “Missing”.

If you’re the one who goes insane, get yourself throwing away your smart gadgets whenever there is a network error, then probably you are going to end up breaking your expensive gadgets. In rare cases, you might have to climb a tree, a hilltop and or hang it near a window. The only uses you might have for those are clicking photographs, flashlights during the night and entertaining the locals with images. Getting a call is luckily an exceptional case.

Be ready to be alienated.

Soccer quiz, political news, and current affairs, if you give out these to act smart, you’ll drown deeper into the feeling of embarrassment. The big update on new bills won’t work smart, but, if you really know how to peel the wild beans and herbs, you really do have a chance. Remember, you can’t win a crocodile under the water.

Diamonds are mere stones.

Not every day is a Friday. The cash in your pocket can’t do everything that you do back in your hometown. You can take it as a test of your aura because everything else will not give you a hand. Leave your habit of window shopping and get into some real understanding of human nature or characteristics because only then you can win them.

Try it but not to prove it wrong.

Not all the superstitions are wrong like you’ve read in Social science books. Some are far better than the legalities of the urban society. So you can try it, test it but do not act too smart for you can see the long results. Believe me, some superstitions are better to be followed than as proving it wrong can create other bigger problems.

The Dubious Perspective.

Most of the houses of the offbeat areas never keep their doors closed. Even if there is no one in the house, it’s quite a rude behavior in the villages. So your dubious character back at your city is fine, but be sure not to cross the limit in the villages, as you may lose your respect.


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west bengal for solo travelers

The Places All the Solo Travelers would love to Explore in North Bengal.

Nearly a year back, I remember a young russian couple contacted me to know about some places, where foreign travelers would have hardly reached. I had no idea of such places so I named only few of them. Those were the ones that I loved to travel, more than any of the renowned destinations shown in the Tourism Map of West Bengal. As a host and a travel expert I’ve had many experiences giving assistance to the solo travelers from abroad. Candidly, in my opinion,there is truly no need of any assistance for such travelers because they always have more information than even the local people. You can truly know each street, shop and sometimes even the names of the people you would find there.

The job of exploring becomes quite like a job of identifying. You do not feel special as nothing seems so special for you. Again, there are obviously certain travel warnings you shouldn’t avoid while getting off-road. So, this post will help you to just know the basics of such off-road destinations of North Bengal.

When Alex & Ann – The russian Couple, landed in Dalgaon…

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Alex $ Ann – The lovely Russian Couple

Now getting back to that Russian couple, the places they visited were more unplanned and unveiled for them. They couldn’t even get it in their route map. That part was more fun, both for them and even for me. It was fun for me because I could see the curiosity in their eyes about everything they’d never heard of North Bengal. But the most interesting part was yet to come for them.

After they departed as usual exchanging numbers I got a call the very next morning. In a nearly shocking tone they said “Oh God! We’re in the newspapers, I don’t know what it reads but both of our’s picture is there. I ran to find the news paper and read it. It was a just a warm welcome for the  lovely couple for their visit to the rural place because they were the first foreigners to visit the village. The local people had collectively requested the newspaper agency to print it as a promotional news for their village.

Ain’t you too be feeling great if this would have happened with you? Certainly it would be a real experience to get local exposure in a totally foreign country for all the solo travelers.

What solo travelers always skip about North Bengal?

If traveling means following the recited stories for you than this may not excite you. In contrary you are the one who want to build stories by traveling, then certainly you have landed in the right place. So if you talk about North Bengal, your stories will never end. Here are the reason why it will not end:

  1. Check out the map of Northern part of West Bengal in India. Do you find any difference? Yes, of course, to be more definitive, this part of India is often named as “Chicken Neck”.  Now, you can imagine the diverse cultural influence of not one, but 4 countries. So, if you love exploring the culture, drown deeper seeking the unexplored destinations of  North Bengal. Besides, you can always visit the renowned destinations anytime while you are in North Bengal.
  2. Whether you Love cold and high hills or always a bright sun ? Almost everything a Solo traveler would look out for from Jungle & Wildlife adventure to River Adventure, you can get all just within the distance of not more than 100 kms.
  3. As most of the areas of North Bengal fall under rural areas or plantations, the people still are far from the lifestyle of a modernised urban life. The word safety is something that you can blindly mark as checked because most of the accommodations are rural home-stay. So no question of commercial environment, but you will be staying with a family following their daily life , culture and tradition. Now, that was the travel warning.

 

The Destinations some of you have never landed..

As already mentioned earlier, there’ll be no fun if all the curtains are opened. So, here let’s only discuss the circuits of North Bengal that has seldom been explored by solo travelers. The rest is all left for all the curious travelers to seek the destinations that comes within the circuits. Let’s not talk about Darjeeling, Kalimpong or even Mirik. You all may even win over me for the travel guide information. So, I am giving the names you would certainly not like to miss once you step on the doorway to North-East – Siliguri. Siliguri can be called as a transit destination of North Bengal, because your milestone of Zero will start from here. You can just enter to any part of North Bengal and that too of your choice from Siliguri.

1.  Defining  “Dooars” – A complete circuit of destination for solo travelers

Dooars for solo travelers

This circuit has all that North Bengal beholds apart from the legacy of Darjeeling. It stretches from the foothills of District Darjeeling to the national and international boundaries of Assam, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The region has many rich bio-diversities, tea plantations and even the one and only Cinchona Plantation, that are renowned for some of the most extinct wildlife animals like One-horned Rhinoceros, Chinese Pangolin, Royal Bengal Tiger. The historical influence of culture and tradition of several international borders has made this circuit a rainbow of culture.

The most strange part of this region is that within a distance of mere 5-10 kms the travelers can enter into a totally different world of culture and tradition. Some of the unique tribes of this circuit are Tamangs, Totos, Sautals, Urao, Rabha, Koch, Mechiya, Dukhpas, Lepchas etc. Few destinations for examples that come under this circuit are Samsing-Suntalekhola, Rajabhatkhawa, Lepchakha, Sisamara etc.

2. The Teesta Circuit

solo travelers for north bengal

This circuit follows the trail of Teesta River right from the Border of Sikkim till Bangladesh. The landscape of this region is mostly covered with beautiful Tea gardens, Orange orchards, and even Cinchona Plantation areas. The adventure lovers and solo travelers mostly lover this place because of all the activities this region offers. Some of such activities are Paragliding in Delo, Mahseer-fishing ( Angling) in River Teesta, and Trekking. There are many small rural destination under this circuit that has some of the best views of North Bengal . The region also offers volunteering options of many categories to different kinds of travelers. Apart from such opportunity the region is also best for many scholars who like to research many activities like agriculture, medicinal plants, teaching etc. Some of the example of such destinations are Doon Valley, Bara Mangwa, Soreng, Chuikhim, Yelbong, Takdah Cantonment etc.

3. The Neora Valley Circuit

Solo travelers neora valley national park

Have you ever heard about Neora Valley National Park?. If you have ever been to North Bengal and have missed this part then you may not have got the real taste of Foohills of Himalayas. Neora Valley National Park is one of the renowned heritage forests of India. The forest is so dense that unlike other national park this region is hardly explored. It covers the patch between Sikkim, West Bengal and Bhutan and also hold the forgotten trails of legendary Silk-route of Asia. The settlement of villages that are adjacent to this National park have their own history that often leads to the story of silk route trading. The forest is still unexplored because of its rough and inaccessible terrains. It is also abode to some of the most rare species of wild orchids and it’s often believed that species have even not been discovered.

Similarly, the forest is abode to many unique and extinct species of wild animals like Chinese Pangolin, Red Panda, Clouded Leopard, Snow Leopard, Yellow-throated Martin, birds and butterflies. The solo travelers, Botanists, Wildlife lovers, Medicine plant researchers can consider this circuit  as a paradise. The trekking options through the forest is the most adventurous part for all the travelers. Some of the of rural destinations that fall under this circuit are Lava, Kolakham, Samsing -Suntalekhola, Kumai, Gorubathan, Saakham etc.

Now it’s a test of your traveling soul to find your own destination among all the above mentioned circuits. Whether you are a solo traveler, or a group of travelers exploring Eastern- India, these circuits will certainly give you the real taste of adventure that you have seldom read in any of the travel Guides. Above all finding your own path is the real motto of any traveler.

Besides if any help is needed, we are always happy to assist you to choose your own meaningful Journeys through North Bengal . So go ahead and feel free to ask us at << Contact us >>


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Yoga Destinations of India

Changing Tribal Lives through ” Art of Living” at Santalabarie

Everyone in this world hunts for achievements, possessions, stature, and status are no matter, how have yu mastered the art of living, you sometimes fail to acknowledge your achievements in comparison to how the world defines the word ” Achievement”. The world introduced the method of chemical farming in the agricultural sector and named it as one of the greatest achievements of Mankind. The world is again onto its best endeavor to ban the method and revive the traditional method of natural farming. Surprisingly, people call this too as an achievement. So, in the first place why did, they even introduce it.

Therefore, it all matters on how people define their invasion to the laws of nature just to meet their materialistic demands.  Just look around you, do you find peace in all those we name as achievements? Perhaps, instead of understanding the inner happiness in the true art of living, people have more inclination towards the external happiness.

Art of Living Destination –  A practice for spiritual healing

Volunteer for yoga in India

This hunt for happiness has today become one of the primary reasons for most of the travelers from the west. India in this context has more potential because of its cultural richness and the abundance of spiritual knowledge. Yoga and other forms of practices that not only helps the body but also the mind is one such knowledge that attracts many travelers from all around the world. If you are looking for any of the meaningful journeys through the rural India, you can add this learning as a part of meaningful experiences. One such rural Destination where you too can participate is Santalabarie in the Northern part of West Bengal. The name of this practice is famously known as part of living in India whose spiritual leader is Shri Shri Ravi Shankar.

The Guide and Teacher

Mr. Ramkumar Lama ( A teacher of ” Art of living” and a social worker) drives this effort. Living in a small village which is surrounded by various indigenous tribes, he is in his mission to change the lives of tribal children through the discipline and spiritual enlightenment of the practices of ” Art of Living”. Santalabarie is a beautiful village located in the district of Alipurduar of West Bengal. This small village is a forest village under the famous Buxa Tiger Reserve Forest of West Bengal. There are many other small villages in the area inhabited by indigenous tribes like Rabha, Kochey, Mechiya, Tamangs, and Dukhpas.

As a forest village, though nature has blessed it with miraculous natural beauty, the area highly lacks the basic facilities that make it a remote village. So, for all those who seek for meaningful journeys through the rural and unexplored beauty of India, this village will certainly be a resourceful and meaningful destination.

Your art of living days at Santalabarie:

Art of living school

Your prolong search for the perfect ambiance will certainly match the beauty and solidarity of Santalabarie.  The journey will right away start after you get at any of the nearest railway stations such as Rajabhatkhawa, Kalchini, Hamilton, and Alipurduar. The place may not totally fit into your category of luxurious destination, but its undisturbed beauty will make you oblivion of everything. A beautiful road through the dense green beauty of Buxa Tiger Reserve forest will take you to this village. For adventure lovers, the only option available in this village is to explore the Jungle watching butterflies, birds and if lucky enough, some wild elephants. The problem of Human-Elephant conflict does exist in this village and there are many organizations who are working hard to minimise this problem.

Where can you stay?

There are no hotels or commercial resorts in this place, instead, there are beautiful homestays with basic facilities for the guests like attach bath and western toilets. The villagers own the homestays, so you can learn a lot about the culture of different tribes in different homestays.

You can then meet Mr. Ramkumar Lama who runs an open art of living school for nearly 100 different children from different tribes. All the children are from the surrounding villages. You can truly feel the change in them that probably the undisturbed nature of Santalabarie stimulates in them. Mr. Ramkumar Lama also runs different courses for different age group people. Many travelers and volunteers who seek for a peaceful destination to relax and cleanse their mind can come to this destination. Far away from the disturbing urban life and work stress if you are really seeking happiness then you can find it here. Every small thing comes directly from nature. This true realization of happiness and peace amongst the wise tribal people, amidst the undisturbed abode of nature and the true smiles of children, will leave you as a totally different person altogether.


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Incredible Rural India

The Veiled Truth of Incredible Rural India

The word “incredible rural India” has quite become a keyword that attracts many foreigners in the common tourist places of India. The story has not much changed since the decades in such places. You would still find the same environmental bubble impressing the travellers with the same glimpses, fed in their memories in the form of stories, videos, books and articles. The only change that has been closely observed is the growing crowd, growth in the number of bargaining touts, congested hotel rooms and fraudulent advertisements. As a result more number of travellers opt for special interest tours avoiding the mainstream form of conventional tourism. The Rural India, in this context, has today grown into a lucrative product of Tourism and is now showcased as one of the primary attractions for the special interest tourists.

The Rural India may develop a glimpse of a different world in your mind. A world, where money is not the factor to buy all the materialistic happiness and where the roots of Indian culture can be reached. India is a country where every village will have different culture, tradition and altogether a different world. Precisely it also means that not all the rural places of India can be truly termed as ” Rural” by its true definition. For instance the outskirt areas , slum areas and even the true villages of Northern India can hardly be termed as Rural. In contrary to what “Rural” defines, such areas are not the roots of Indian culture but the results of exploitation of Modern Culture. It’s the time for you to know the different between the true Rural India and the ones that are just the results of prodigal urbanisation, and are often named as one form of Rural Tourism :

The Farm Houses of Incredible Rural India :

Do not get overwhelmed when you come across one of such properties that are sold under the concept of  farm stays. Such accommodations are just made to meet the extravagant needs of lavishly lifestyle of Urban riches. Measuring the demands of rural tourism , a new trend has now developed where the external investors from urban areas convince the innocent villagers to sell their only property – Land. This way they develop a two-way profit source, both for their needs of riotous lifestyle and to earn some extra black money. The remote locations of rural areas are hardly under any surveillance that can create the problem of taxes. This opens the opportunity for such rich owners to utilise the innocence of rural people. In contrary to the true ethics of rural tourism that speak about ecological balance and the cultural authenticity of Rural India, a full fledged commercial unit gets established that further again ruins all the social benefits of Rural tourism. In the name of farm stay a luxurious villa fulfilling the luxurious demands of urban culture then takes place with  value additions of organic and purely natural ambience of Rural culture, overall delivering merely an illusion of Incredible Rural India.

Not Home stays of Incredible Rural India, but Leased hotels :

 When you hear about Home-stays what is the picture that comes in your mind? Probably a beautiful and cozy home built by a lovely family with bricks of love, concrete relationships and doors of cultural Hospitality. Where the smoke coming out from the kitchen would be filled with the aroma of inherent culture and tradition, and where the smiles would not let you miss your family whom you’ve left all the way back home. Your mind is prepared to encounter such an ambience, but alas!, even here the dreams and illusions are converted into a sample of product of tourism Business. A new trend has now set up where the travel business owners explore the offbeat rural destinations and convince the innocent villagers to lease out one or two rooms of their house to be used as Homestay accommodations. This way a commercial ambience of hotel industry travels from the urban areas to the rural areas exploiting the culture and tradition of Rural areas, as for them such things have least value in comparison to fetch back their investment along with profit. This way you may initially see it as a homestay but in real picture you will be staying in a hotel following the commercial trend of business.

Above all, the major role is also played by the type of tourists who have such demands that can never be fulfilled under the rural environment. As a result, to meet their urban demands, the villagers too become reliable to their urban counterparts becoming their accomplice in exploiting their own destination. So, the picture that may be shown to you with flowery description may not truly hold the truth behind it. In this context , if you are one of such meaningful travellers who really care for the people and the nature then there are few things that can help you to identify the true units of ” Incredible Rural India”.

The Visibility :

The destinations that are owned by commercial units have more visibility in media & publication. They are easily found and approachable. This is because the marketing part is done not by the villagers who hardly have any access to media, but by those for who are expert in business entrepreneurship.

The Occupancy:

This is one major identifier for the true rural destinations of India. For the villagers a  rural tourism unit is not their main source of income, but just an alternative. The home -stay accommodation is not primarily a commercial tourist accommodation , but a home for their family. So if the home-stay has higher number of occupancy available for the tourists then there is a high chance that the home-stay may be a leased out  commercial tourist accommodation.

The Host:

If the host you are communicating belongs to a commercial travel business background, then there are high chances that the destination is just another unit of commercial urban tourism. The way of communication, the presentation, also determine the authenticity of Rural destination. A meaningful rural host will always lack the professionalism. In contrary there may also be few social organisations and volunteers of rural tourism involved who would be doing the work on their behalf but may not truly be professional tourism business owners. In such cases there may not be any doubt that you will find the true essence of Incredible rural India.

 


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Traveller

Why I say “Travelling is an inborn art “?

Traveller & Artist:

While I was working as a Jewellery Designer few years back, I learnt that your inborn art readily never takes up a materialised form until you learn the ways of its acceptance in the outer world. I created designs and that brought business more than the fans of my designs.  So, it was more like a profile of a marketing agent than a Jewellery designer. That was the time when I practically learnt a proverb that I hang around with me till today, “World is a market, life means salesmanship and everyone in this world is a salesman”. You create masterpieces not in the form of art but to impress this world either with their understanding or your art of salesmanship to serve their understanding.

It’s been years I’ve quit the industry of fashion. Today, I prefer not to be asked about my current profession, as I am unable to frame it in one canvas. It’s like you can’t create a single art that goes on with all the numbers of themes. This way you’ll confuse others and to be more precise, you too will be confused. In this context I prefer saying freelance writer or a travel blogger and pray in mind “Now please don’t ask,” what and where do you write”. This is mostly for those who are travel bloggers and travellers, as the profession is quite not yet accepted as a work profession or an art, or there would be schools and institutions to teach you on how to become a meaningful traveller.

Travelling doesn’t just mean to seek for beautiful places and people in this world and many people think this way. They travel to either get a break from their own choice of life they live or to spend the time they think is granted as a privilege. The definition of so called “beautiful places” too has a more diverse perspective that depends again on the different character of a traveller. You can’t just follow the crowd to look out for the mentioned beautiful places and differentiate ugly places.  As an artist you have to have an eye that can see beauty in every ugly thing in this world. If a snow covered mountain is a beauty then a dry and dreary desert has its own beauty.  A traveller not only looks out for the beauty that can easily be seen by any common person but digs the depth of every place in this world to portray it as a beautiful art and engrave its picture in everyone’s heart. This just can’t be the character of every traveller but only few who have the heart and mind of an artist.

There are times when I see hotels decorating the corners with some of the famous worldly known flowers and bouquets just to impress the travellers. Then I also see few travellers who show no interest in those flowers but give their fullest to some wild and unwanted flower that grows on the pavements and roadsides. The expensive pets are never caressed but a stray dog becomes the most lovable animal for the travellers. To be a true nature lover is to love nature in any of its form whether the world names it ugly or beautiful.  So only an artist who has an inborn art of always seeing the beautiful side of everything in this world is a traveller who never complains about any destination or people.


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Neora Valley National Park

What is so special about Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling ?

Category : Uncategorized

Darjeeling, a beautiful hill station in West Bengal India is always the most preferred hill destination of many Travellers visiting India. There are countless reasons why most of travellers never avoid to visit this destination when they reach Kolkata, one of the most populated and historical cities of India. The most popular reason is because it was once, one of the summer capitals of British empire. This resembles many historical memories that still can be enliven while visiting Darjeeling. Apart from the enchanting beauty blessed by nature, Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling stands in the top most priorities of every traveller.

Where is Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling?

Quite strange, but the administrative part of this rich green lusciousness of District Darjeeling is tackled by District Jalpaiguri, naming it as Jalpaiguri wildlife division-II. The earlier recorded area of Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling was 88 sq.km, but currently the demarcation of Neora Valley National National Park in Darjeeling has extended to cover the adjacent Reserves forests of District Darjeeling and the figure is approximately 140 sq.km. There are two legal entry gates to the forest for the Travellers, though the forest is accessible from all the sides through many villages.  By legal entry it means permissible entry, after one obtains permit to enter the national park. One is from Samsing Range which is often named as Samsing-Suntalekhola in the tourism map of West Bengal and the other is at Lava and that too is one of the most popular tourist destinations of West Bengal. Extending towards north the park shares the territory of Bhutan ( Torsa strict reserve of Bhutan) and Sikkim (  Panglakha Wildlife Sanctuary) without any artificial barriers and towards south and east the forest reaches other reserve and protected forests of West Bengal like Chapramari wildlife sanctuary near Chalsa Junction.

Special attractions of Neora Valley National Park for the Travellers:

The attractions described here may not seem more common that usually become the hub point for tourists, but it is more ethical and resourceful for only a portion of Meaningful Travellers. In real words if you’re on a holiday just to enjoy drinking, get in the crowd, click selfies near popular landmarks, see wild animals by paying money for booking watch towers, enjoy the  so-called royal ride of captive elephants, then Neora Valley National  is not your choice for the best tourist destinations of North Bengal.

  1. Out of all the protected areas Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling is most undisturbed patch of virgin forests of West Bengal. The inaccessible terrains have formed because of it’s unique topography that starts from the plains of Jalpaiguri District and rise towards north forming diverse landforms resulting into complex geomorphic processes with varying altitudes. The altitudes vary from 180 m to 3200 meters which is towards North near the Sikkim Border where there is a point named Rachela, the highest point of Neora Valley National Park.
  2. Due to it’s varying altitude the forest covers two biomes – Biome -7 , Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (1800m-3600m) and Biome-8, Sino- Himalayan Sub-Tropical Forest (1000m-2000m). Falling under Bio-Geographic Region -2, Neora Valley National park, though being in oriental region, strangely has floral and faunal similarities with the Palaearctic Region. Due to this characteristic it consists of all the three sub-regions- Himalayan Montane System, Indian Peninsular Sub-region and the Malayan sub-region. So for all the nature professionals Neora Valley National park can be the best research and study ground in all over the region.
  3. Neora Valley National Park is counted among the most spectacular and species rich temperate forests in the World. The temperate forests of Neora Valley National Park has such unique elevation where even during the warm moisture rowing time the moisture tends to condense and remain in the air due to which its richness is unique in nature.
  4. Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling is one of the only forests of India that has four habitats turning into one of the best bio-diversity regions of the world. Four habitat types are  (i) Subtropical Mixed Broadleaf Forest, (ii) Lower Temperate Evergreen Forest, (iii) Upper Temperate Mixed Broadleaf Forest and (iv) Rhododendron Forest. The vegetation includes Dry Mixed Forest, Wet Mixed Forest, Lauraceous Forest, Bak-Oak Forest, High level oak Forest, Coniferous Forest, Himalayas Moist Temperate Forest and Rhododendron forest.
  5. Kanchenjunga range, being the backdrop of Neora Valley National Park, blesses the forest with some of the spectacular views that you can never see from any other place in Darjeeling. Apart from enchanting beauty the forest is an abode to some of the rarest species of the world. 20% of species found in Neora Valley National Park are extremely rare and some are facing the threat of Extinction. Some of the few names are Balanophora neorensis (a unique species of parasitic angiosperm), Balanophora polyandra, Betula utilis, Swertia chirata, Swertia bimaculata, Rananculus tricuspes, Digitalis purpuria, Geranium nepalense, Taxus baccata, and Ilex hookeri.
  6. Neora Valley National Park is the only forest of West Bengal that provides shelter to more than more than 31 species of mammals, 258 species of birds (Islam and Rahmani 2004), 276 species of insects, 38 species of other invertebrates including 6 species of leeches, namely Dinobdella forox, Hirudinaria manillensis, Haemadipsa zeylanica, Haemadipsa Montana, Haemadipsa sylvestris and Haemadipsa ornate that are listed in the RedData Book of IUCN and the appendices of CITES.
  7. For Ornithologists and amateur Bird Watchers, Neora Valley National Park can be considered as a paradise because the forest falls under the restricted species site. The forest is also abode to two globally threatened species of Birds in cluding rare endemic species like Black-lored Tit Parus, Indian Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii, Rufous Throated Wren xanthogenys Babbler Spelaeornis caudatus, Rusty Throated Wren Babbler S. badeigularis and Rufous Sibia Heterophasia capistrata.
  8. Above all the attractions the last but not the least is that it is the last remaining suitable habitat for the poular mammal Red Panda which is the most endangered species of the forest. Including Red Panda there are many other rare species found in the forest that have its name in list of Red Data Book Of IUCN, for example Chinese pangolin and Clouded Leopard.

How does accommodations near Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling make your trip so special?

Apart from rich Bio-Diversity and the beauty of Kanchanjenga Range, the forest is also adjacent to many villages flourishing the lives of different culture and tribes. Today, all the rural areas that are adjacent to Neora Valley National Park have become the most preferred Rural destinations of North Bengal for most of the offbeat travellers. Some the renowned Destinations to explore the beauty of Neora Valley National Park are Samsing Suntalekhola, Lava, Kolakham and Lingsey. All the destinations provide home-stay accommodations to the travellers and also warmly welcome the research scholars, volunteer Travellers , gap year students, travel writers and many more who choose the place as their research ground.

Some of the Homestays of the places :

Kolakham : Samsuhang Homestay

Samsing – Suntalekhola : Mayjhor Homestay

Trekking in Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling , India:

Among all the trekking routes of India, Neora Valley National Park is the most unexplored trekking route of India. Because of its rough terrains and inaccessible denseness spotting wildlife is s tough job unless it is for the researchers who can stay for longer period. However, for Botanists this trek route will be an important accomplishment for their research work and similarly for Volunteers who want to explore the culture of tribes who live adjacent to rich Bio-diversities of India, the destinations mentioned above can be a resourceful destination.

The two  important trekking routes in the map of Neora Valley National Park are :

Rachela Trek at Neora Valley National Park = ( Trekking the highest ppoint of Neora Valley National Park covering all the types of vegetation – 4 nights 5 Days

Mulkharka Lake Trek at Neora Valley National Park  = Trekking for a lake that is called ” Mirror of Kanchenjenga”

 


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Off season in Rural Tourism

Why there is no term as “off season” in rural tourism?

Many a times you’ve heard people negotiating for the tariffs of hotel rooms demanding the rebate for off season. In obvious terms there are such offers in the tourism industry that are one of the promotional policies of Tourism Business. In business terms, this is indeed a good promotional step to overcome the problem of slow business that is often called as dry season in the colloquial language of tourism business.  The calendar of peak season depends upon many factors. The main factors that determine off season and peak season in tourism industry mostly depend upon the geographical location and climatic changes of the destinations. If the destination is a cold region then he peak season will be counted during the summer season because many tourists and travelers will look out for colder regions to get away from the crouching heat. It goes vice versa with warmer regions.

In precise terms, what can be the main reason behind the tourism business that allows them to afford such a low price in spite of no change in any of the overhead costs, fixed costs and variable costs of their business? Can you imagine such “off season rebate “in the things like electricity bill, Taxes, employees’ salary, and other commodities that together count the profitability measures of tourism business? So, how can you expect the price rebate demanding for off season rebate? Above all such compromising statements one this is for sure, that it’s all just a business policy, a perfectly commercialized calendar for attracting stable business transaction.

Why Rural Tourism should be kept far from the word “Commercialization”?

Rural Development has always been the most focused area in the various sectors of development in the objectives of both the Government and private sector. It has become the most common area to showcase the possibilities of various successful models for all the developmental firms. What is more interesting is that every firm’s anticipated results describe Rural Development in a way the world measures the matrices of Urbanized world considering them to be the real units of development. In precise terms, is turning a beautiful village into more like an urban town building sophisticated infrastructures, turning green fields into Industrial areas, the real meaning of Rural Development? That is the main reason why Rural Tourism should be stringently kept away from over- commercialization, or there will be no existence of the word “Rural” to call it a model of Rural Tourism.

So, now what’s off season in Tourism?

Does it mean that the nature becomes ugly during off season? Or, your hosts turn into some demons during the time of off season? Yes, this is true that you may not find much crowd on the roads. The hotel rooms may not be fully occupied or you may not have trouble to book your Railway or airline tickets. So, does that mean that tourists visit destinations just see other tourists? As a meaningful traveler who always searches for some meaningful journeys, there is no off season or peak season because nature is incompetently beautiful in its every form. If on the one side people visit the dry and dreary deserts like in Rajasthan Tourism than on the side there is Cherrapunji, the destination that received the world’s heaviest rainfall all round the year. Off season is just the fluctuation of price wherein the business owners hike the price during peak season, way too high in terms of profitability percentage, and this way they bring it down to low profit during off season. In both the ways they would surely be earning profits.

Rural Tourism Vs Off season:

Rural Tourism is never the main source of income for the hosts, because the hosts are already self employed. It is a source of alternative income for the hosts. A farmer running a homestay tourism will never leave his farming profession and indulge fully in his homestay business because that way it will be fully commercialized. So, he is less conscious about the price factor, and in some cases the hosts even don’t keep proper accounts. A rural tourism is more like sharing culture, hospitality, relationship, knowledge sharing, nature and beauty, simplicity rather than a term used for commercial tourism business. So, the tariffs and prices are something that are just a medium of exchanging things that you can hardly quote in numbers. The prices are neither hiked nor made down throughout the year. So the word off season is never a word defined in the dictionary of Rural tourism because every fruit and flower has its own season to grow throughout the year.


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