Around 150 tribals from a dozen-odd villages in Sangla valley of Kinnaur have come together under an umbrella to develop household tourism. They want to cash in the richness of original tribal culture with a bit of value addition in traditional style.
The group is preparing to reach out to tourists from India and abroad through a Sangla Valley Household Tourism Festival on May 9 and 10. Here, they will present the true essence of the Sangla valley by giving tourists a taste of local cuisine, tribal culture and handlooms. Thirty-five tribal households have already applied for registration with the tourism department so they can open their homes and offer other services to the tourists.
Vidya Karam Negi, who is spearheading the unique effort, says: “The people of Sangla are poor and unemployed. And so far, outsiders have benefited from the tourism in Sangla. We want local boys and girls to generate income through tourism, which has great potential due to our rich tribal culture. And for this, we have worked on the concept of training the locals to enable them to facilitate tourists at their houses, villages and farms.”
Negi, who climbed Mount Everest in 1992 while working at the Mountaineering Institute in Manali, was the first to be associated with this programme, now being run under the banner of Sangla Valley Sustainable Development Society. “I have seen Manali develop and finish over time with none interested in preserving its richness. We don’t want Sangla to meet the same fate. Our efforts on household and farm tourism will automatically sustain our culture and traditions.” he says.