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Going off-grid

The more you travel, the more you learn about different communities is the travel motto of many. But not everyone gets down to actually doing it.

Published: 03rd May 2022 02:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2022 03:04 PM   |  A+A-

Volunteering work at Varanashi Organic Farms. (Photo | EPS)

Volunteering work at Varanashi Organic Farms. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: From learning to brew local beer using foraged produce, to discovering the indigenous music from different states, and staying with the local families to experience community-based life, Bengalureans are choosing to travel local this summer

The more you travel, the more you learn about different communities is the travel motto of many. But not everyone gets down to actually doing it. As a new travel trend, Bengalureans are opting to live closer to local communities, understand their culture, learn more about it and volunteer with them . To make travel more off-beat and immersive, 25-year-old Shreyas Danappa collaborates with indigenous communities to make his outings more purposeful.

From learning to brew local beer using foraged produce, to discovering the indigenous music from different states, and staying with the families to experience life like a local, Danappa gets travellers to interact with the locals as much as possible. Going by the name ‘Map My Stories’, he handpicks such experiences for travellers and takes them around different parts of North-East India.

He explains, “Interested travellers usually connect with me on Instagram. After intense screening, I select them. Since I curate this myself, I don’t take more than six people on the trip; these experiences happen every month.” He adds, “By allowing the locals to conduct workshops, showcase their work, the travellers will get to learn and in return help the community make an income.”

Julie Kagti of Curtain Call Adventures also focuses on travel across North-East India. Local meals, homestays, curated guides, trekking, performance arts... the travel guide company offers both luxurious and offbeat experiences.

“We get about 85 guests a year out of which 55 are from Bengaluru. All the experiences travellers try have been personally experienced by me. I feel it’s important to showcase how the communities survive here,” she says, adding, “There are travellers who want to learn cooking from the locals. They can also learn about the different crafts and learn how to make them. There are walks organised during the stay and they also dine with locals in their homes.”

For instance, a visit to Assam includes a meeting with Jadav Payeng, popularly known as the ‘Forest Man of India’; in Manipur, there’s an experience to meet the artists, weavers and NGOs who have created a niche for themselves. “All of these experiences have been helpful for the locals, make them confident to meet tourists, and gives them overall exposure,” she says. Closer home, many from the IT crowd have realised how important it is to be closer to nature. This is why they are taking up volunteering work at Varanashi Organic Farms, Adyanadka (near Mangaluru), and learning the A-Z of farming. According to Partha Varanashi, director of the farm, they focus on the concept of woofing — Willing Workers on Organic Farms, a loose network of national organisations that facilitate homestays on organic farms.

“When people come to volunteer here, they get the complete farm-life experience. We work on the fields for about six hours a day, work on harvesting, post-harvesting, grafting, compost making and rainwater harvesting. In the evenings, there’s a session where people about different types of farming,” explains Varanashi, about the month-long programme. “We just had a batch of 12 volunteers. There’s a new batch starting this week and we have some coming in from Germany as well,” he says, adding that the work they do here, brings farmers and city folk closer, possibly exposing them to how life on a farm could be like.



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