SAPUTARA: Looking for a quick getaway in Gujarat, which is not Rann of Kutch or the Gir National Park?
Head to the quaint hill station of Saputara, nestled in the laps of lush green Western ghats. Located in the region of the Dangs Forest, at an altitude of about 1000 m, Saputara, home to tribes like Bhils, Kunbis, and Gamits, derives its name from the snake god revered by these communities. It is popularly known as "the adobe of Serpents".
To promote the region as a tourist destination and subsequently increase employment opportunities for the tribal communities, an annual 'Saputara Monsoon Festival' is organised by Gujarat tourism.
"During the festival, the Dang folk tribes get a chance interact with the tourists. It also means business for them," Jenu Devan, managing director and commissioner of tourism at Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, said. Attractions during the festival include hand-crafted jewellery, jute bags and other handmade items.
Watching the Kunbi tribe performing the local 'Dangi' dance is another delightful indulgence for visitors. Hailing from the Kunbi tribe, Prakash, 24, is one of the regular performers at the festival, who strives to popularise the dancing tradition of his community.
"We work on contract with the government here. Although the income is not stable, it helps us to run our families. During the festival, the government pays us Rs 4,500 per day," Prakash said. For 30-year-old Leela, who sells hand-made goods, the festival is an opportunity to make some extra money for her folks.
"For most of the year business is usually dry. There are not many options to sell the material outside the village, but during this one month, I earn the most," she said. To know more about the tribal life in the region, visitors can also pay a visit to the Saputara museum, that has on display ornaments, and textiles used by the communities.
The museum, maintained by the state government, also offers insights into their cultures -- the process of cultivation, their festivals, the types of houses they live in among others. Other tourist attractions in the vicinity include the majestic Governor's hill, a popular sun-set point, and the shimmering Sarpaganga lake located between languorously stretching valleys.