Grassroutes: Connecting Rural and Urban India

A beaming youth welcomes us to Purushwadi, applying red sindoor on our foreheads and adorning our heads with the typical Maharashtrian headgear, the Gandhi topi. Each gets a flower, too. We are at Purushwadi for the two-day Navratra celebration, a part of the rural tourism initiatives by Grassroutes.

After the sleepy journey on the early morning Kasara local, the jeep ride to the tribal village Purushwadi in Bhandardhara excites us as the jeep leaves the highway and takes the country roads. Traversing the meandering roads becomes more thrilling when we climb on to the top of the jeep. We try to close the eyes and enjoy the wind blowing past us, but bumpy roads chip in with sharp jolts; branches threaten to hit us and we are forced to duck our heads—sheer fun!

It’s almost lunch time as we reach Purushwadi. After tucking in a simple but delicious lunch served at one of the houses, we try our hands at rice harvesting. The villagers patiently help us in learning the tasks; we pant shamelessly after a few minutes of effort. Fingers tuned to press keypads are reluctant to hold sickles. So we go for a hike! That too to the river. Gushing water soothes our frazzled bodies. An hour or so of frolic in the water; hot tea awaits us in yet another house. The whole village plays our host! Invigourated, off we go to clamber up a hillock and enjoy the sunset. As darkness envelopes the village and solar panels release the energy hoarded during the day, it is time to take part in Navratra celebration. The villagers, young and old, dance to the rhythm of marathi bhajans; we too fall into step to work up an appetite for the yummy dinner that awaits us.

Next day, after breakfast, some of us unsuccessfully try to milk a goat and give up fast for fear of curse from the goat. Exploring the village and talking to the villagers gave us an idea of their lives. There is one thing shared by all of them—the better life brought about by the work of Grassroutes. Everyone seems to enjoy the dignified work and the ensuing income, without having to move away from the village looking for greener pastures.

The trip was organised by Grassroutes, an organisation involved in developing tourism potential in rural communities and getting urbanites experience authentic village life. The youth is groomed as tourist guides and housewives are trained to cook and serve food hygienically to the tourists. A major chunk of the fees collected from the tourists goes to the villagers. Purushwadi can accommodate one to 40 people at a time. One needs to approach Grassroutes for organising the trip.

Apart from Purushwadi, Grassroutes currently has Walvanda village in Jawhar also under its wings. It plans to replicate this model in 200 villages across the country.

So take a break, pack your backpacks, hit the grassroute and enjoy a peaceful weekend in a tribal village.

3 Comments on “Grassroutes: Connecting Rural and Urban India

  1. Anu: It’ll be a nice experience for Samhit.
    PNS: You are so right. Making villages self-sustaining and stopping migration to cities is the need of the hour.

  2. There are several such Purushwadis. Hats off to this endeavor. We must ensure that our villages get sponsored. This may help stop migrations to the cities for a livelihood. Tks.

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