Culture Aangan is a social enterprise dedicated to promoting sustainable rural tourism and supporting grass root development projects. Their focus is on both conserving and celebrating cultural traditions, to help stem the migration to the cities. They bring traditional Indian culture to travelers, so that they can experience rural India, off the beaten track but with homely comforts.
Currently, their homestays are across the Sindhdurgh region on the Konkan Coast in Maharashtra (West India) and in Pali district in the Rajasthan (North West India) desert.
Founded in 2005 by Ms. Rashmi Sawant, Culture Aangan has helped create homestays in villages that are not used to seeing tourism. Local cultural activities have been developed, so that they can be shared with tourists in the region. Ms. Sawant has also been sleected to attend the Dasra Social Impact Program, and was awarded the Konkan Ratna in 2010.
Ms. Sawant holds a degree in Tourism and Travel Management from the University of Mumbai. She has over 10 years of experience in the tourism field. She is supported by operations offices in both Sindhudurgh and Pali.
At Culture Aangan the objective of sharing culture with the traveler takes primary importance. From local arts and crafts to recipes, songs and dance, guests are encouraged to experience the vibrant colour and joy of rural life.
Communty Support is extended by ensuring that many are involved in the activities so that the guest can experience authentic rural touch. The intention is for local villages to benefit from rural tourism to support and continue their way of life.
Villages are supported to be sustainable, both environmentally and also culturally. By learning from them and supporting the community, Culture Aangan aims to ensure that their activities contribute positively to the community and its longevity. Their properties are also fitted with sustainable features including working water wells, low consumption fire wood, water boilers and CFL lights.
Rural Development Work of Culture Aangan in Rajasthan
Guests stay with a family and experience the culture of the local village. This allows them to get to know India and its people closely, to understand family values, learn how the village functions, and discover the appeal of village life. The people are simple, down to earth, and welcoming.
Depending on guests’ interests, there are three types of homestays to choose from.
1. Farm Homestay: Owned by a local Rajput family (rulers of the area), it’s surrounded by fields and has been newly constructed especially for guests. The rooms have modern western facilities and attractive contemporary decorations, inspired by the region. Fresh air and tranquility are in abundance. The homestay is run by the family’s eldest son, who’s an excellent horseman and conducts horse safaris.
2. Royal Homestay: Culture Aangan’s homestay in Nana village is resplendent with regal heritage. Owned by a descendent of the Mewar royal family from Udaipur, the imposing haveli (mansion) has been built over centuries. The guest rooms are charming, with private balconies, and the one of the top floor has its own private terrace.
3. Village Homestay: For those who like to be close to the action, Culture Aangan has a homestay with a couple and their young children in the village of Gulthani. This quaint village has narrow laneways and old architecture.
In conjunction with the homestays, Culture Aangan offers a range of activities as part of their packages. The options are numerous and diverse, and include leopard spotting, horse riding, spending time with the villagers and local tribes, exploring markets and forts, visiting local craftsmen and learning their arts, and evening cultural performances.