Seasoned travellers maintain that you haven’t explored a new place till you eat, sleep and live as the locals do. Don’t be a tourist, they say, be a traveller.
And what better way to explore the culture of a place than to live with the locals and experience their life with them!
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has proposed a homestay programme for visitors from other states and countries in 150 locations across the state, with a particular focus on villages around the Pune district, namely, Mulshi, Maval, Velhe and Junnar.
In collaboration with the American company, Airbnb, MTDC will now open the doors of local villagers to travellers and help them live an authentic village life.
Deepak Harne, the manager of MTDC, Pune region, told Pune Mirror, “Foreign tourists prefer to stay with locals to know more about their culture, but because there is no such arrangement, they stay in hotels. The MTDC will provide such facilities by coordinating with the villagers.”
Not only can the travellers live with villagers, but they can also engage in daily activities of the village and experience India like never before.
“We are hopeful that the tourists will come and enjoy the homestay,” said Harne, further elaborating, “They can milk the cows, cut the grass, cook and eat local food, fish, enjoy local beverages and seasonal fruits, travel in bullock carts. We aim to make the tourists feel at home not as if they are staying in a hotel.”
Homestays will help tourists get a better glance at the lives and culture of our rural areas. The experience they take with them will undoubtedly be much more impactful than staying in AC hotel rooms.
Additionally, the initiative will also provide villagers with an alternative source of income. Not only can they welcome guests in their homes, but can earn by sharing their experiences and culture.
However, the cultural difference between those who live in villages and those who will visit is not lost on the tourism corporation.
“The MTDC will shoulder the responsibility of ensuring the standard of facilities and help to develop infrastructure and security for such tourists,” said Harne. “The department will keep a tab on the activities. This community-based homestay tourism will attract visitors and also improve the host village’s socio-economic condition,” he claimed.
He also added that although Airbnb will connect tourists with the hosts, a majority of the earning will go to the owners of the homestays.
So, if you plan on exploring Maharashtra, make sure you book a bed in one of these homestays. Not only will you have a great time exchanging stories with the villagers, but will return with memories to last a lifetime!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)