Babita is pursuing her studies, doing in Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) in Jaipur. She returned to her village ‘Bhaakhriyo Ki Dhhani Tan Basawa’ after two to three months and found a different sort of an atmosphere in her home. Her eleven brothers and sisters — in the age group of 5 to 18 — started doing their own work as soon as they woke up in the morning. Waking up in the morning on time, then helping each other to get dressed and then taking up other household activities according to their age were all being carried out in a very smooth manner. The really surprising thing was that all these things were happening without any urging or reprimand from the elderly people of the house. Babita was astonished and was wondering what magic had occurred to bring about such a transformation. The children of the house who used to cause a virtual earthquake in the household as soon as they woke up in the morning were now completing their routine in a smooth and peaceful manner. When Babita sought out her father to enquire about the reason for these changes, she found that her father, who used to get annoyed with the naughtiness of the children, was giving them his blessings and sitting among the children. This was indeed a very big change. Babita felt that the atmosphere of her house had improved a lot, the children in the house were not like other village children now but were instead keeping a routine like that of the children of the cities.
Noticing Babita’s curiosity, her father Birbal Yadav said that it was not just a change of their lifestyle, it was also the concept of developing their minds, and it was only with this that the implementation of change in the daily routine had occurred — and it was made possible with the help of the Morarka Foundation. Actually on the advice of the Foundation, Birbal Yadav, allowed tourists to stay in his house as part of the concept of rural tourism and from then on positive changes became possible. By meeting and interacting with the tourists who were staying at their house, the family and its children learnt about lifestyles in the cities and changed their own lives accordingly.
Camper Van Facility
A Discussions are being held on the provision of camper vans like that of Europe. With this rural tourism for the tourists could start from the airport itself. In such cases, their journey would directly start from any nearby airport like Jaipur airport or from any other airport and their time of journey would become a part of the entire tourism experience. Camper vans being preferred are like the Shringar van, which is equipped with daily requirements. Starting from toilet-bathroom, this van also has arrangements to sleep. These types of camper vans are very costly and the maintenance charge is also high. But CEO Mukesh Gupta has stated that the maintenance charges of the van would be taken care of by the Foundation at the initial stage. After this, the cost would be deducted from the money got from the tourists. Mukesh Gupta says that the Foundation is thinking of starting such a unique business module where the investors would put their money and the villagers would take the responsibility of running the module. The concept of camper vans in the village areas has been appreciated by a lot of people. For example, a project can be made to work on the Time Share Concept of the Mahindra group. In this a camper van would be hired from anybody and then it would be provided with all the necessities and kept till the time it is required. After this the Foundation would take it on rent and provide it to the tourists. Efforts for implementation of this type of business module are in progress.
The village of ‘Bhaakhriyo Ki Dhhani Tan Basawa’, which falls on the way while going to the pilgrimages of Lohargal and Shankbhamri, is eight kilometres away from Nawalgarh. Because of the presence of the two famous pilgrimage centres of Rajasthan near the village, people from across the country come to visit these places. The main problem for these tourists used to be the night stay, taking rest, obtaining food and spending some quality time to get a feel of the clean environment. The tourists who come from the big cities of Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore used to wish for good arrangements in the village itself. The members of the Foundation learnt this from the tourists who were visiting the area. This feedback proved beneficial and eight kilometres away from ‘Bhaakhriyo Ki Dhhani Tan Basawa’ a new site was built for rural tourism. The Morarka Foundation has been working since the last 6 years arranging for tourists from within the country or from foreign countries to stay in the homes of the villagers, providing good hospitality and making tourists aware about village life.
Birbal Yadav, who also does organic farming in Basawa was encouraged to take up rural tourism and provided with proper training. In August, 2 groups of tourists from France carried away with them the scenic beauty of the area and their love for the people in their minds and promised to visit the place again. It doesn’t matter if they come again or not, but the memories of this place will keep alive their love for the villages of our country. Thirty two foreign tourist groups have come to Shekhawati in the last 1 year. Among these groups, two groups from France stayed at Birbal Yadav’s house for 4 nights. Along with the tourists, it was a different experience for Birbal Yadav and his family as well.
Nine groups of 63 tourists from France and Belgium stayed in the house of Thakur Girwar Singh of Singhasan village and joyfully enjoyed the village atmosphere. The family of Digvijay Singh from Katrathal helped 4 groups of 71 members who had come from France, Italy, America, Germany and from Indian cities in visiting the villages of Rajasthan within 28 days. The family of farmer Rajkumar Kajla from ‘Lakshmana Ka Baas’ hosted 4 tourist groups of 39 members from France and made them familiar with the traditions and lifestyle of the villages. Organic farmer Manoj Sharma of ‘Bidoudi Badi’ village gave 10 tourist groups of 54 members from France, Germany, America and India a familiarity of the village culture in 27 days. Seventy one tourists from France, Belgium, Spain and Finland came to know closely about Indian culture during their stay at Thakur Mool Singh’s house, a farmer from Sigda village. The farmers of Shekhawati were provided special training and prepared for the reception of the tourists, so that they could build a good relationship with the tourists easily and the tourists do not face any problem during their stay. Resident of ‘Milo Ka Baas’ village in Shekhawati area, Hariram Meel gave accommodation to 16 tourists from France during 2012, while Nekiram Godara of Bidasar hosted 2 tourists from Kazakhstan and 16 tourists from France for two days. Krishna Singh Shekhawat of Wahidpura greeted 11 tourists from France and Ram Avtar Bugalia of Kalyanpura greeted 19 tourists from France and made them familiar with Indian culture in 2 days. On the other side, Surendra Kumar of Wahidpura village made 4 Swiss tourists aware of village life within 2 days only.
In the last few years, innumerable domestic and international tourists got the opportunity of knowing closely the lifestyle of villages by staying with the villagers and roaming in their villages. To familiarise tourists with Indian culture, farmers and their families organise mehendi competitions, rangoli competitions, lok nritya, puppet shows and other cultural programmes in their village homes. Apart from this, during their stay tourists not only savour Indian hospitality, but taste other experiences like milking animals, feeding fodder to animals and working in the fields. Village women feel proud that they are greeted with words like ‘superwoman’ and ‘multi talented’ by people coming from foreign countries, who are surprised at the dexterous way in which these illiterate women manage their big families.
It is the result of the consistent efforts of the Morarka Foundation that rural tourism has not only become a new concept but has also become a new means of employment in Shekhawati, Bikaner, and Jodhpur and in places like Dousa. Continuous development of possibilities in this direction is being carried out by the Foundation. Based on the new alternative which was given by IBM company last year, the Morarka Foundation is taking rural tourism in the direction of a new dimension, as a result of which the travel agencies who have been working in the traditional tourism segment have started to get in touch with the Foundation to provide the tourists with close contact with village culture. For the time being the Morarka Foundation along with an organisation named Sahaj is working on rural tourism. In the mean time, the Morarka Foudation has made a contract with a travel agency named ‘Kani.’ As per the contract, the tourists coming from the Netherlands will include Shekhawati as a visiting spot in their itinerary. The heritage hotels of Nawalgarh and Mandwa etc., have started including the Foundation’s rural tourism in the day light programmes of tourists. Going by the results so far, this could be a brilliant experiment in rural tourism. For some time now, the attention of national tourists too has been attracted to life in rural areas. The proof for this is that at least 1 to 3 enquiry calls come from national tourists on a daily basis.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Morarka Foundation and the Head of Rural Tourism , Mukesh Gupta says that majority of the national tourists are those who are from the five star culture. According to him, when the tourists are shown photographs of the atmosphere of the villages to get a glimpse of the lifestyle of the villages, they begin to hesitate to stay with the villagers. They want to spend the major part of their day among the villagers but want provision of hotels just to stay at night. The members of the Morarka Foundation are trying to find a solution for this. The Foundation’s experience in rural tourism till date has found a few things which are not just a problem for tourists, but are also a hindrance in the development of the villagers. For instance, the distances between pilgrimage centres in Rajasthan are considerable and this problem largely affects the visits of the tourists. Besides, unlike the foreign tourists, national tourists prefer coming for rural tourism as a week end holiday. They have scarcity of time and the distances are long. As a result, a large chunk of their time goes in travelling. The Foundation is looking closely at alternatives so that both domestic and foreign tourists can enjoy their visit without any stress.
For the time being, the budget of the tourists who come to visit these village areas is 50 dollars, and they speak about increasing their budget to 100 dollars if there are more conveniences. Their visit would become more convenient and easy with this and normally, tourists are ready to pay more for more conveniences. In the area of rural tourism, the efforts of the Morarka Foundation are not only praise worthy, but are also a step towards giving an identity to these village areas at the global level.