A PEEP INTO RURAL TOURISM IN ASSAM: ONE OF THE WAYS OF CONNECTING URBAN & RURAL



 “The soul of India lives in its village” - Mahatma Gandhi

Now-a-days people want to explore something different while on holiday or in vacation. As familiar tourist places of the state located in urban area become saturated so people are interested for visiting rural tourist destinations.  Rural society offers multiple forms of tourism e.g. cultural tourism, agro- tourism, religious tourism, eco-tourismetc. These all are part of rural tourism. As per definitionRural tourism is a multi-faced activity that takes place in an environment outside heavily urbanized area. It is an industry sector characterized by small scale tourism business, set in areas where land use id dominated by agricultural pursuits, forestry or natural area” (Dept. of
Tourism 1994).Rural tourism is vital for rural and sustainable development. Imagination and media portrayal of rural society always creates a sense of inquisitiveness for the urbanity. But when urban folk experience rural life they came closer to the warm and hospitable rural folk. In Assam most of the villages are endowed with beautiful natural landscape, forest, hills, rivers, historical monuments, ancient temples, shrines, flora & fauna, etc. A few places like Sivasagar, Hajo, Tejpur, Jorhat, Nagaon, Marigaon, Tinisukia,  Golaghat,  Karbi anglong,  Mongoldoi, Barpeta, Sarthebari,   Sonapur,   Sualkuchi,  Boko, Mirza, Rani, of Assam has enoromous untapped potentialities for rural tourism. If traditional village life starting from attires to traditions, arts to crafts, folk culture to custom, are
showcased in week long folk cultural fest, village mela, on particular time of a year then definitely attract flow of tourist. Apart from this if rural people involves in expansion of orchids garden, floriculture, horticulture, sericulture, mushroom cultivation, bamboo & cane work in rural area then surely tourists can be pulled for experiencing it. As a result of it villagers avails employment opportunities.  To make all these possible rural people should take initiative by providing large acre of lands to setup camping site, recreational parks, flower garden, museum, market, souvenirs stall, local handloom and handicraft stalls,
hospitality and accommodation facilities include cottage at nest in indigenous architectural design with basic amenities, open area for relaxation, space for boating, river cruises, fishing, petting animals, horse & bullock cart ride, agriculture experiment space, food corner of local delicacies, dining hall, vendor of fruits, vegetables, meat, milk, poultry, eggs, fish and other products which are locally procured gives unique experience to tourists. Bhattacharya (2004) revealed that some villagers can expands their cattle, poultry, fishery and other stocks along with food processing facilities.  These all are vital for
development of rural tourism in Assam
. As a result of rural tourism folk practices, tradition, culture, rural games, ethnic foods, dresses of diverse communities can be exhibited to entertain tourists. It avails rural communities to revive its lost glory which further helps in sharing of ideas with the urbanity. To facilitate all these villagers need to take ownership by providing quality services for all kind of tourist. Prospect of local youths to train as tour guide, tourist desk operator, package tour vehicle operator, catering group etc. are there if they take
entrepreneurship at their own villages in appropriate locations then there would be no dearth of employment. The fact behind slow & steady growth of
rural tourism is that mere natural beauty, cultural and historical heritages can’t attract tourists; reasons like poor infrastructure, bottleneck communication, geographical isolation, lack of information about rural tourist destination, inadequate tourist guide & transport facilities are some of the obstacles in development of rural tourism in Assam. If Government, Tourist department, travel & tour agencies, entrepreneurs focus on these issues then definitely rural tourism would boom in the state in near future. So, need of the hour is to
sensitise rural people about rural potentialities and prospect of tourism for gaining livelihood and employment opportunities. With good investments and proper planning some villages of Assam can transform into popular rural tourist hub of the country.  The teenagers will enjoy cheerful moments in natural ambience by witnessing rural tourism because push of globalization and urbanization though provides multitude of avenues in urban area yet it detachesteenagers from experiencing rural life. As information technology gadgets in one way taking over teenagers, on the other way it debars teenagers urge to learn from natural environment.  Internet & networking devices make teenagers smart but artificial. Social networking site like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp decreases distance in
physical scale and made interaction & communication easier with virtual global communities yet it diminishes teenagers curiosity to learns from society. It
deprives them to play with friends and interacts with community in social setting. In this global age computerized class, and e-library has some extent restricted the ability of teenagers to think beyond the four walls of their home and class. Sociologically, it assumes that teenagers who tend to be more techno savvy can understand about rural life and social cohesiveness by participating in rural tourism than just being a part of virtual society. Visiting around rural area would definitely help the teenagers to develop a broader outlook on issues that concern village people most. Consequently, it connects
urban and rural people in one platform where both can mutually learn and build empathy towards each other.
In conclusion, it can be said that rural tourism is helpful in social and economic development of rural area which further promote rural economy, life style, folk culture & festivals of people residing in around the villages.




References
  • P. Bhattacharya. Tourism in Assam: trends and potentialities. Dibrugarh: Bani Mandir, 2004.
  • R. N. Saletore. Encyclopedia of Indian culture. New Delhi: Starling publishers pvt. Ltd., 1985.
       (Note: Govt. of India, Dept. of Tourism, 1994)




About the author: Aminul Islam did his M.A in Sociology from Gauhati University, Assam, M.S.W( Master of Social work) from IGNOU, New Delhi. Presently, he is pursuing Ph.D in Gauhati University in the department of Sociology. [Read More]


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