Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Surjivan-Village Tourism

" All the academics in the world may write a much as they want, in as many fancy words as they can about this country and its people, their plight and their struggles but it will always be wanting.  For it cannot and never will hold comparison to what is out there to be seen, to be felt, and to be heard on our own." 
-SBI YFI Fellow Akshay Kumar in the Book "Experiences of SBI Youth for India Fellows in Rural India.

Khus fields in Surjivan

The words of the youngster quoted above rang a bell when I returned from Surjivan, a village approved for "village tourism" by the Haryana Government.  Here is a resort which makes a valiant effort to connect with the 21st century mall city of Gurgaon. 

About 40kms from Gurgaon driving through the Jaipur highway for about 15kms and then through metaled roads, one can reach the village.  For just Rs 950/- per person, you can enjoy the ambiance of the 50 acres, take guided tours and partake in an organic lunch cooked the traditional way.  All the ingredients used for cooking are grown organically in the 40 acre organic farm, which also boasts of a chicken farm and milch cows.

While sipping the welcome drink of masala lassi, we watched a large group of young families walk in.  Children were frolicking all over in no time leaving parents to chat and enjoy their drinks and music. It was a Sunday-a well reserved holiday for these back office employees.  Yet no one seemed to be complaining.  " I am glad to escape the claustrophobia of....." ,  I overheard a young smartly dressed lady remarking.

The manager, offered to show us around.   We have all the facilities for adventure games, he started and insisted that we first take a look at these.   The last part of "Survivor Series" on Television was shot here, he proudly proclaimed. 

Where are the herbal gardens?  In the very next plot, our guide answered.  Also the main ground has many local trees and ancient plants. 

Lemon pansy on lavender plant

Bakul plant

Kalpavriksh or Wish Tree

We were informed that the big "Kalpavriksh tree" the resort had earlier grown, died, suffocated by the red threads tied by believers!

"Reetha" the seeds of which are commonly used by villagers for washing clothes and their hair, is also a rarely seen plant these days.

As we watched village artisans giving the final touches to a motif, drongos and parakeets announced their roosting time and we realized that we need to drive back to Gurgaon before the highway gets choked by office commuters.

The resort has twelve mud huts complete with cow-dung plaster on floor and mud beds and seats- also equipped with fans, air conditioners and attached baths with geysers.  All these come at a price though.   The solar panels support lights and fans but geysers and a.cs are run in winter and summer using Diesel generators.  

Surjivan is a bold attempt to connect Maximum City dwellers with nature- Spend a day there and you realise what it is that we miss in Big Cities-Again I quote our young friend Akshay Kumar of SBI Youth for India
" Gone were all delusions of "uplifting them", wanting to make them more like us and it was replaced by shame, shame about my own superfluous sense of superiority that had led me to believe that my way of life was something better and worth being forced on them."

Friday, October 19, 2012 featured in Hindustan 17th October, 2012