Should Tourism Be Introduced To The Villages?
Having joined in a lengthy discussion with leaders of Udaipur's Chamber of Commerce & Industry and on another occasion, a concerned local individual, I have decided to touch on a subject that will no doubt be somewhat controversial. The theme was whether or not tourism should be introduced into the rural areas, and if so, how should it be done.

Rural Tourism & What It Could Have To Offer
Rural Rajasthan has a very prominent community lifestyle. All villagers are bound by their customs, homes, attire, cuisine and ritual gatherings. Customs are prominent all over India, but nowhere are they more apparent than in the rigidly traditional rural areas of Rajasthan. Of paramount importance to a traditionally minded Rajasthani is that he obeys a strong moral code; keeping his promises, respecting his elders, revering nature and upholding his honour. Firm religious beliefs & values are interwoven deeply within their day-to-day lives.

The clothing of the Rajasthanis is of a brilliance that contrasts sharply with the hues of Rajasthan's countryside. Vivid bandanas, laheria, dhurries, block prints, intricate mirror work embroidery on string cholis, colourful turbans, heavy silver & kundan jewellery are stunning to behold. Even their footwear is embroidered, sequined and tasseled!
For the more prosperous Rajasthanis, the same colourful flair is employed when they decorate their homes. Their walls are painted inlaid with mirrors and stones, domestic furniture is carved and every door, window, screen and balcony is fretted & intricately designed.

The entire countryside of Rajasthan sways to its distinct folk dance and music. The various hill tribes such as the Bhils, Meenas, Banjaras, Saharias and Garasias in the vicinity of Udaipur are rich in community entertainment, notably the extraordinary & complex ger-ghoomer, kachhi ghodi, terah taal & kathputli dances and their haunting music.

Every village has craftsmen, practicing ancient skills, passed on, along with many of the traditional tools, from generation to generation.Rajasthan's sparsely populated character has led to the need for villagers to have regular gatherings. There is a market, fair or festival somewhere every month. The gathering may be merely for the purchasing or bartering of goods, or perhaps for some sort of celebration during which acrobats perform and men hold competitions or sing and dance, the women can buy multi-coloured ornaments and all can enjoy spicy snacks.

The concept of rural tourism is a challenge and is undoubtedly open to criticism. At a social level there are bound to be inhibitions. For one thing, trust has to be built up slowly and communication is very necessary. A general concern is that in no way should the villagers
be exploited. The introduction of tourists is more than likely to bring an increased social awareness which could be frowned upon by some members of the rural community. Therefore it would be preferable to orientate potential rural visitors towards the need for
sensitivity in respect of the local values, beliefs and need of privacy.

In the longer term at an economic level, there are other problems to tackle, such as envy due to an imbalance of new wealth, & ensuring that the tourists' requirements of water, electricity & food, & possible price increases of the latter will not cause a strain & ill-feeling
amongst the wider community, particularly in times of scarcity.

Despite the problems, these rural areas and their tribal villagers have a lot to commend them, and a sensitive type of tourism could benefit them as well as being of great interest to visitors. The UCCI see rural tourism as one way to achieve for the villagers an increase in income, employment & economic stability whilst revitalizing the community's traditional resources. Strategic factors include:

  1. The direct financial benifits to the villagers.
  2. The need to sustain fast vanishing rural culture.
  3. Sensitive & respectful social integration & equity between tourists and the rural community ,
  4. An addition and alternative avenue of tourism.

Amongst visitors to these regions there would be a variety of  reasons for interest. A few of us may see it as "going back to our roots". Many others will choose it as a way of getting away from urban pressure. Some will find it the only true method of experiencing authentic cuisine, culture & heritage and there will be those who just wish for a more balanced "grass roots" view of Indian life.

The effect of tourism on local culture cannot be fully assessed beforeit is tried, but the general opinion is that there are likely to be plus and minus points. On the plus side, there should be much needed economic benefits to the local population which would provide an
incentive for the preservation of culture. Perversely, the very same tourism could also make a casualty of culture by accelerating the pace of urbanization. Everyone agrees that it is only right that the final decision must come from the village elders, and if the answer is
pro-tourism then a large part proportion of the methods used, the level of tourism and the supervision must also come from the villagers to ensure that they retain their control and the visitor sees rural life unadulterated by outside agencies. This way the villagers can go along the road of tourism only as far as they wish and they, rather than the outside agencies will reap the profits.

There are a handful of villagers who are ready to put into practice a basic form of tourism for a very few people. The experience will be totally novel to the villagers and fascinating to
the pioneering visitors.

If anyone is interested in finding out further details, please send an
Email to:, with your contact No.. It will take 2 -3 days to make the arrangements so give the necessary time.


Out & about Udaipur's Home