The campaign is based on a concept that was initially created in India 10 years ago, to allow cultural exchanges between the local community and visiting travellers, offering holidaymakers the opportunity to experience “real” in Indian life. Visitors are encouraged to stay with local families in rural villages and learn about local traditions and crafts.
The concept has been now been brought to the UK market by Culture Aangan, a social enterprise that promotes sustainable rural tourism and grass-roots projects. The project aims to generate income for rural communities by giving villagers the opportunity to renovate their houses with sustainable features, such as water wells, and learn hospitality skills.
“We launched Culture Aangan in 2005 with our first project taking place in Sindhudurg, where we worked with local villages who had never hosted tourists before,” explained Rashmi Sawant of Culture Aangan Holidays.
“For centuries, Indian villages have been self-sufficient and rich in local heritage, and we wanted to ensure travellers to India could access these traditional cultures in an easy and personal way.
“Our home stays now range from the Sindhdurgh region on the Konkan Coast in Maharashtra to the Pali district in the Rajasthan desert and we tailor-make the itineraries, ensuring travellers receive a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” Sawant added.
Raj Sunani, India Tourism’s assistant regional director for the UK commented; “The UK is one of our most important markets and we’re very excited to now provide UK holidaymakers with the opportunity to explore India away from the conventional tourist trail. To see the real India, you need to see rural India.”
Destinations have been selected by Culture Aangan to ensure the availability of a range of products, such as home stays, farm stays, school tours and rural getaways. One of the initial itineraries includes the opportunity to spend time with a camel herding community in Rajasthan.