Milking cows, plucking apples, digging up potatoes and pitting your wits against the elusive trout... That’s the idyllic holiday that Himachal Pradesh is offering to lure tourists.
The ‘home-stay scheme’ launched by the Himachal government in July 2008, has been getting an overwhelming response from both domestic and overseas tourists alike. Under this scheme, any resident living on the outskirts of a town can rent out a portion of his house — maximum three rooms. For this, they need to get their premises registered with the state tourism department.
“City slickers prefer to stay amid nature, where they can enjoy local cuisine and folk culture,” Tourism Director Arun Kumar Sharma said. “Till date, 5,750 people, including 220 foreigners, have stayed in various home-stay units. This has not only given a boost to rural prosperity, but also helped decongest the popular tourist destinations,” he added.
The Kullu Valley has 75 registered home-stay units, followed by 49 in Kinnaur district, 38 in Shimla district, 31 in Kangra district, 19 in Lahaul and Spiti district, 12 in Chamba district, 10 in Mandi district, and six each in Sirmaur and Solan districts.
Principal Secretary (Tourism) Manisha Nanda said, “The scheme helps boost the income of the rural population… tourists stay at home-stay units, generating employment opportunities for the locals.”
The interior areas of Kangra, Kullu, Shimla and Solan districts have emerged as offbeat holiday destinations, she said. The Kullu Valley has been attracting large number of tourists for mountaineering expeditions, high-altitude treks and whitewater rafting. Ankur Sood of Jai Durge Bhawan at Lohardi village said, “Angling in the water channels here is alluring the tourists. They also love to pluck fruits and sow fields.”