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Jangalmahal Welcomes Homestay Tourism, Embracing Local Hospitality

In Kolkata, Abin Das and his family made a distinctive choice when planning their trip to the picturesque village of Keran nestled in the Ayodhya Hills last December. Rather than opting for conventional hotels, they sought a more immersive experience by staying with a local host family. Priced at a reasonable Rs 1,000 per night, the accommodation, nestled in the quaint and secluded hamlet, offered not only affordability but also an authentic glimpse into local life. The genuine warmth extended by the hosts, who graciously served homemade meals and even accompanied them on explorations into the nearby forests, left a lasting impression on the Das family.

This shift towards seeking authentic, locally-driven, and exclusive experiences post-pandemic is not unique to the Das family. Across the villages of Purulia, Jhargram, and West Midnapore, collectively known as Jangalmahal, residents are embracing the concept of homestay tourism. As tourists increasingly yearn for more personalized and immersive experiences, many villagers are transforming parts of their homes into homestays to cater to this growing demand.

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Raju Sapui, a resident of Garh Salboni in Jhargram, took the plunge and converted two rooms of his home into a homestay in November last year in response to rising inquiries for accommodation from visitors. Despite initial skepticism due to limited resources for modern comforts, Sapui found success as guests expressed a desire to experience life as locals. Now registered with the tourism department, Sapui's homestay receives bookings almost every weekend, reflecting the burgeoning popularity of such experiences in the region.

With over 300 homestays registered with the tourism department in Jangalmahal, officials are actively encouraging more locals with spare rooms to consider converting them into homestays for supplemental income. For hosts like Purnendu Singha, owner of Atithi Homestay in Jhargram, the additional earnings have not only provided financial stability but have also facilitated investments in ventures like small backyard farms.

Beyond offering accommodation, homestay hosts in Jangalmahal extend hospitality by preparing meals, suggesting must-visit destinations, and organizing cultural events and local feasts for guests. This trend not only boosts tourism in rural areas but also contributes to the economic prosperity of local communities while fostering infrastructure development.

Yudhajit Karmakar, a travel start-up owner organizing curated tours in Jangalmahal, notes that approximately 35% of tourists inquire about homestay options, indicating a significant preference for immersive experiences. By facilitating interactions between tourists and locals, these initiatives not only promote cultural exchange but also offer visitors a deeper understanding of the region's heritage and way of life.

April 25, 2024 11:48 a.m. 4363

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