Towards Sustainable Tourism – Sewa Saahas
The idea of Model Eco Tourism Villages
Uttarakhand is a traveler’s paradise. Apart from being the melting pot of divinity, adrenaline pumping treks and breathtaking views of the mighty Himalayas the region is a reservoir of the rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. Post the 2013 disaster when Sewa International began its relief and rehabilitation efforts in the districts of Rudraprayag and Chamoli, Sewa Saahas was an important vertical that was initiated to develop ecotourism and also to train the youth for disaster preparedness and management.
Rudraprayag is one of the Panch Prayag (five confluences) of Alaknanda River, the point of confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. Kedarnath, a prominent Hindu holy shrine, also a part of the much revered Chota Chaar Dhaam, is located 86 km from Rudraprayag and hence attracts tourists, especially pilgrims from the entire country.
Chamoli is another district bordering Rudraprayag and is a host to a variety of destinations of pilgrim and tourists’ interest. Badrinath, Hemkund Sahib, Valley of Flowers and Auli are some of the places thronged by tourists every year. Chamoli also happened to be the birthplace of “Chipko movement”. With its spectacular natural assets and views, Chamoli is set to emerge as a major tourist destination in times to come.
Unplanned urbanization and commercialization of ecologically sensitive regions have caused unparalleled damage due to natural disasters such as cloudbursts and flood. However, it is imperative to understand that tourism forms a key revenue generation activity for the state and a source of livelihood for much of the Uttarakhand population. Sewa Saahas constituted youth clubs to develop the villages of Byunkhi (Rudraprayag), Karcho ( Rudraprayag) and Vaan (Chamoli) as model ecotourism villages and to create a low impact and small scale alternative to standard mass commercial tourism in this fragile, pristine and undisturbed natural area. These youth clubs were trained for disaster preparedness and also act as tourist guides. A total of 25 trek routes have been identified which have been categorized as easy, moderately difficult and difficult. Some of these treks are of cultural importance as well as of breathtaking beauty to the traveler. The members of the youth club are also trained in adventure sports activities to provide a wholesome travel experience to the guests.
Byunkhi village is a small hamlet located 39 KM towards the north of Rudraprayag and 124 KM from State capital Dehradun. The village presents a picturesque view of the Himalayas and Kedarnath to all its visitors. The relative remoteness of this area has kept the natural beauty pristine and pure, untouched, by the rapid commercialization of the tourism industry. The village provides a perfect ambient environment for one to pursue meditation, yoga and other such endeavors. The rich biodiversity is a treat to the eyes for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.
Places to see:
Situated in Joshimath Tehsil of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand lies the cozy Himalayan village of Karchhon. Pauri, Chamba, Almora and Tehri are some of the nearby places surrounding this remote village. Karchhon presents a majestic view of no less than 12 Himalayan peaks. The biodiversity comprises of a rich reservoir of medicinal plants and herbs that have been used for centuries by the local people. The village with its high rise peaks and twisted pathways presents an excellent location for adventure sports like rock climbing, valley crossing, wildlife safari, and trekking.
Places to see:
Located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, about 94 km away from Karnaprayag, Vaan is a trekkers paradise, situated at about 2500 mt above the sea level. Apart from being a repertoire of nature’s beauty, the village is also of keen spiritual importance. The place provides almost a trance-like serenity to the visitor, thus connecting him to the universal energy of the divine.
Places to see:
The village is surrounded by majestic Bugyals (meadows) and thrilling treks, to satisfy a traveler’s wanderlust. Following are some of them :
Why Travel With Sewa Saahas?
While you may have contemplated visiting this land of natural and spiritual marvels many times, the heavily priced tourist packages might have pulled you off. We believe that travel must be sustainable and respectful towards the local customs and ecology of an area. Hence the conception of Sewa Saahas, an alternative way to travel responsibly and in a budget-friendly manner.
As simple as sharing any skills you have with these people who otherwise have very limited access to the outside world and emerging technologies. Imagine the transformation in the life of a rural woman or child, if you help them learn Facebook or Instagram to promote their small businesses or find the right buyers for their farm produce.