When Kush Sharma and Chandni Aggarwal started their venture Rural Odyssey in 2016, they never thought that their initiative will be so popular and get so many takers in the subsequent trips  to rural India.

"Ours is social venture to promote responsible tourism as a livelihood in rural India and as a way of travelling to bring forth the hidden or lesser known treasures of India. Rural Odyssey organises on request  and fixed departure tours to various villages in Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland.  The tours are experiential tours in naturally and culturally rich villages where travellers get to stay with local families, learn about their way of life and culture, and contribute to the family’s and village economy," said Chandni Aggarwal, the co-founder of the venture.

Rural Odyssey is also setting up a community driven tourism model in a village near Ajmer city in Rajasthan.  "The idea of the project is to engage as many households from the village for activities like hosting the travellers, farming guides, cultural guides and performances etc. The project is still in the development stages and we will be training the village community in basic hospitality, sanitation, hygiene, reducing the carbon footprint of travellers and other aspects necessary to run the project sustainably.We aim to take such projects to other villages in India as well in coming years," said  Kush Sharma, the other co-founder.

It is to be noted that recently,  they organised a themed retreat i.e. Digital Detox Retreat where individuals get to immerse themselves in the wild away from the digital world. There has been a tremendous response to their initiative people from different walk of life. " This has been received very well by not only the individuals but also several corporates. Due to the overburden of digital in today’s millennial life, people are seeking a break from the usual lifestyle. That’s exactly what such retreats provide, a time with nature and oneself away from the shackles of the digital world," said Kush.

"It gives an opportunity to take a short break from today's virtual world and soak ourselves in the magnificence of natural world. One can loosen up in a peaceful Himalayan village and break up with hackneyed digital life.  We get to spend some meaningful time in the real world and come close to the richness of nature, understand a new culture, eat scrumptious organic meals, and get involved in countless fun activities.  It is a perfect step towards restoring a balance between online and offline!" said Vritti Gupta, who went Kumaon in one of the Odysseys.   

"Rural Odyssey, in collaboration with Digital Defynd and Nirogam, brings an unforgettable digital detoxification retreat to a Himalayan village named Alchauna, near Bhimtal. The homestay is a 100-year-old Bungalow, which is a part of an exquisite 100-acre estate, set amidst the lush green mountains. With Kalsa river flowing down along with estate makes it a perfect place to enjoy both the mountains tops and the valley. It’s one of those perfect places where you can rejuvenate yourself near natural clear water pools, gaze at majestic mountains, get lost in forests, visit a rose farm, or play with village kids, while getting a taste of timeless village life in lower Kumaon hills," informed  Chandni Aggarwal .

"Our trip was very well- planned and well -organised.  We enjoyed open air cooking, participated in the rural folk dance and songs. Learnt lots of about rural entrepreneurial activities like bee keeping, organic farming, animal farming etc. On village walk through the village,  we interacted with the locals, learnt and understood their lifestyle. It was a life time experience, " said Palak Chandra, who went to Digital Detox retreat.

 

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