“We are convincing villagers not to sell their land and homes. Instead, we are bringing responsible tourism to their doorstep. We want them to remain owners of their land and homes and not earn their living by working for someone else.”
It is this thought that pioneered the Devalsari Environment and Technology Development Society in the year 2016.
Situated some 50 kilometers from Mussoorie, beyond Thatyud, Devalsari Environment and Technology Development Society Project is spread over a radius of 70 kms, and is one of its kind success story.
Today ten villages under the banner of the Project are leading by example of sustainable, responsible eco- tourism in the heart of its lush green deodar forest.
27-year-old, Arun Gaur from Bangseel one of the twenty villages in Devalsari, is your point-person here. Under the project Arun has been training the young and old in the field of hospitality, turning them into perfect hosts and nature guides who take you along for bird watching, butterfly walks, heritage walks under the mighty trees.
For now, the Devalsari project caters to twenty tourists with tent accommodation and authentic Jaunpuri cuisine any given day.
Telling us more, Arun adds, “ I am a beekeeping expert by profession and have held numerous workshops all over the State, but a few years ago. I returned home and started working with the NGO as the idea of environmental conservation along with self employment, appealed to me.”
Although, the best season to visit Devalsari is from January to June and then from September onwards, Arun suggests, “Every season has something different to. We have round the year clients that bring with them direct or indirect employment to over fifty people. From daily labourers, to pony owners, ration shop owners, they all earn a living through these camps.”
In the past two years, the project has shown an overwhelming turn over of 15 lakhs a year. With four more home-stays in the making, Arun is sure that their success story will be replicated in other villages ensuring there are no more ghost villages that define Uttarakhand.