Country road…take me home!Jul 10th, 2009 | By editor | Category: Art and crafts, City Culture, Heritage
RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN
“If the path is beautiful, you should not worry about the destination. And if the destination is beautiful, you should not worry about the path. So, just keep going”. The phrase from an anonymous poet just fits “Explore Rural India” by Roli Books. The volume that has just hit the stands is a fascinating pictorial journey of rural sightseeing. It’s not just another coffee table book of splendid pictures, but aims at promoting unconventional tourism destinations through a tribute to indigenous skills and knowledge, rural livelihood, local economy, rural ethos, etiquettes and enjoyments. The 207-page book is a result of the collaborative efforts of Ministry of Tourism (under Ambika Soni) and United National Development Programme (UNDP).
Described under various chapters such as art and craft, culture, fairs and festivals, cuisines, heritage, village sports and adventure and panoramas, the pictographic treat trails 36 rural sites in 20 states. What makes the book more viewable are short, crisp and all-encompassing details penned against the large, colourful shots of the craft or the locales, dances or the cuisines, festivals or food, adventures and things like honey harvesting and so on. Actor John Abraham is seen sitting pretty in Bhunga village near Bhuj, now undertaken by Sham-e-Sarhad rural heritage resort.
The enticing book doesn’t allow a moment of dullness. If a woman from Durgapur engages your attention for skilfully weaving traditional loom solely on bamboo, stunningly embellished round Bhunga huts invite you to spend a few days watching birds, stargazing, and explore traditional leather craft. Similarly, Kumalanghi, Kerala’s lazy backwaters offer a soothing panorama with palm-fringed land. The 17th Century Gondwana monuments in Madhya Pradesh cool the senses. And, the chakada, a contraption consisting of an Enfield motorcycle attached to a bullock cart with large tyres, which is a mode of transport in Gujarat, amuses.
The book also provides a glimpse at the last Indian village called Mana, located at an altitude of 3,420 meter on the confluence of Alaknanda and Saraswati rivers. In disuse after the border was sealed in 1962, it still vibrates with life on special occasions.
Mayura Balasubramanium, the book’s editor, speaks:
During the 10th Five Year Plan in 2003, the concept of rural tourism was brought up the Ministry of Tourism.
Aimed at reviving art, craft, music, cuisines and rural locations, a project was undertaken by the Ministry and UNDP in 2005-08.
It successfully inspired the villagers to take pride in their local art, culture, heritage and skills by making self-help groups, linked them to the market thereby ending middlemen’s interference. Now, tourism is the livelihood of these villages. Such spectacular results gave birth to the book that portrays the success stories of the revived villages.