India is a vast country with varying culture, traditions, languages, festivals and rituals. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we observe the different colours of life.
History, in its ancient, medieval or modern form has provided evidence to the fact that India has been a country which has attracted global attention right from the timeline of Alexander to the British Raj. Some of the dynasties that have ruled the country have left indelible impressions in art, culture, architecture. Most importantly, they have left a legacy that is a part of India’s contemporary life.
Back in 1993-94, when everyone was dreaming of their tourist destination, he decided to make his place a tourist heaven. After completing his higher secondary, he started working as a guide and was parallelly pursuing MA in English. As a guide he observed the people from India and abroad very closely about their choices to declare someplace a dream destination.
In his journey of exploring the beauty of rural India, he met another beautiful soul named Sabrina. She was from abroad. She was a tourist and a hardcore lover of rural culture. Her unique perspective on a particular thing, her patience and art of adaptability is what made him fall for her. It’s been seven years since they got married. Now, they are giving their everything to preserve and protect the beauty of tribal and the rural culture.
They started the Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat in the year 2004 (a residence having rural architecture). Bhoramdev is located 16 kilometres away from Kawardha. They had just two to five rooms with additional rooms for the staff.
It is a residence constructed with the bricks of tribal culture, tradition, unique style and selfless love. In this modern era, where one craves for air conditioners, the people from other countries come to stay here to feel the smell of mud, the purity of the air and the essence of love Chhattisgarh’s tribal people have for others. The furniture and the facilities provided here are made from the raw materials bought from the local people of that area in order to generate employment for them, and provide a unique identity to their place.
Early on, it was hard to gain the trust of the villagers and to make them learn the concept. The arrival of foreigners and the difficulty of communication and the stratified culture made it difficult for the villagers to accept them with wholeheartedly. Since tribal people give more priorities to their culture and become aggressive when someone violates them, it was hard on their part to get used to new innovations. They also had to welcome people from other places. Apart from this, there was a financial issue but they managed to cope with the help of many like-minded people who willingly contributed to the cause. Now, the place is a home to many.
1. Free school: The best way to bring about a change in mentality and to make people accept new trends with time is to impart them education. They have started free education for all the students living out there. Apart from knowledge about the materialistic world, they are also taught the philosophy of life and social concepts. The art of discipline, punctuality, safety, cleanliness, health and personal hygiene – these are their main mottos.
2. Suti saheli: This is a school for knitting, stitching and embroidery. It’s free for girls and women. When everyone is giving speeches about women’s empowerment, Sunny and Sabrina are implementing what is actually required. There were times when the women only performed household chores but now, every woman there is mastering rural entrepreneurship.
3. Marathon: This was conducted by various organisations on January 26, 2017. One hundred girls took part in it to celebrate the Republic Day of Kawardha. In the Raipur Pink Marathon, 150 girls participated who were provided with free running shoes, tracksuits and offered a one-day-stay in Raipur. In a marathon organised by the government, around 25 girls, along with some foreigners, participated actively with a message “Jungle Bachao”.
It was not only the marathon for them but for the first time, they were exploring a big city like “Raipur”. It gave them a new hope to do something in their life.
4. Blood donation camp: Sabrina, Sophie (from England) and other 15 people have contributed to this campaign in order to remove from the minds of the tribals misconceptions of blood donation. And it worked well. Now, they are eager to donate their blood and to save someone’s life if get a chance.
5. Water conservation: Work has been done with Frank Water UK and Samarth (India) with the help of Sophie and Sabrina in order to make people aware of the importance of saving water and to promote its sustainable use.
They are planning to build a wildlife sanctuary named “Tenduakhar”. It’s going to be 100 acres in size, of which 29 acres have been completed. It is a habitat of animals like bears, leopards, blue bulls, jackals, hyenas among others. They are searching for like-minded individuals and professionals who are nature lovers and who could contribute to the movement in their respective area so that they could make Chhattisgarh a tourist heaven and also help create a healthy ecosystem.
More than 50% of the tourists from abroad or India repeat their trip to this place. Sophie, a good friend of Sunny for the past 15 years, is visiting the place every year and willingly contributes her earnings towards the development of Chhattisgarh. When the world is moving at a fast pace in terms of technology, it is quite easy to come up with five-star infrastructure but preserving and beautifying something in a natural way is difficult. This is partially the reason tourists from faraway countries visit us.
Chhattisgarh should be proud to be gifted with such natural flora and fauna and a distinguished tribal culture. People like Sunny Upadhyaya have already made it a destination for many.
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