Tribal tourism policy in offing to draw high-end tourists

As part of the strategy, the government “plans to facilitate” home stay facilities in tribal villages besides developing trekking routes.

dehradun Updated: Dec 18, 2017 20:15 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand news,tourism policy,Tribal tourism
A tribal woman weaves carpet in Mana, the last Indian village close to Indo China border in Uttarakhand.(Arvind Moudgil /HT PHOTO)

DEHRADUN: To attract high-end tourists to tribal areas, the Uttarakhand government is framing a dedicated policy that facilitates home stay facilities in villages and links them with scenic spots through trekking routes.

“We have a vibrant and variegated tribal culture…Each tribe here has its own fairs, gods, ethnic traditions and colourful dresses…But little is known about this aspect outside the state,” tourism minister Satpal Maharaj tells HT. “A full-fledged policy is being put in place to attract high-end domestic and foreign tourists to tribal areas.”

As part of the strategy, the government “plans to facilitate” home stay facilities in tribal villages besides developing trekking routes. “We are focusing to introduce such facilities because most tribal communities inhabit remote mountainous areas and valleys along the India-China border,” Maharaj says, referring to border districts of Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh.

Broadly, there are five scheduled tribes - Tharus, Buxas, Jaunsaris, the forest dweller tribe of Vanrawats and Bhotiyas or Rang - in Uttarakhand. Tharus and Buxas inhabit the Terai area and Jaunsaris belong to Chakrata in Dehradun. Rajis or Vanrawats are distributed in Pithoragarh and Champavat. Bhotiyas or Rangs, who are influenced by the Tibetan culture, live in Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh on this side of the India-China border.

Facilities will be developed so that high-end domestic and foreign tourists can have a first-hand experience of tribal culture. “In Ghuttu (Uttarkashi), we plan to develop a network of trekking routes, besides encouraging local tribes to develop home stay facilities,” Maharaj says, adding it will serve two purposes. “Tourists will be able to hike the nearby scenic spots, besides having a firsthand experience of the tribal culture—their colourful fairs, festivals, folk gods and unique dress habits.”

The hospitality of the tribal communities will be an added bonus, he says, adding the village stay will give tourists a feel of the local culture.

Citing the example of Jadung in the border district of Uttarakashi, Maharaj says home stays will be developed in the remote tribal village that is completely deserted. “The village has the potential to develop as a major attraction for high-end domestic and foreign tourists as it lies deserted after its residents were relocated to nearby Harsil and Bagoli in the wake of the 1962 India-China war.”

Mukhba, believed to be a winter abode of the Ganga in Uttarkashi, also can be another hot spot of tribal tourism. “There are some 80 century-old houses in that village. Like elsewhere, all its residents will be provided bank loans to develop home stays”, Maharaj says, adding the proposed move will fetch foreign exchange as Mukhba along with Harsil and Bagoli were recently opened for foreigners.

Home stay facilities will come up in Kumaon’s Terai area so that tourists can be exposed to the unique tribal culture practised by Tharus and Buxas. “Tourists will find it fascinating that they (Tharus and Buxas) still use bows and arrows and are expert shooters. “Similarly, they will enjoy staying with the forest dwelling tribe of Vanrawats who prefer staying in deep forests.”

First Published: Dec 18, 2017 20:15 IST