|A gold mine at Kalgoorlie in western Australia and Hodka village in Gujarat
Kalgoorlie in western Australia, Hodka in Gujarat and Kala Gram in Rajasthan all have something in common. Bihar could soon follow in their footsteps.
The government is working on a plan to develop rural tourism, allowing visitors to get a feel of the state’s culture and art.
Down Under, tourists visit Australia’s largest goldfields city Kalgoorlie. During the gold rush of the 19th century, fortune-seekers visited the city in hordes for the yellow metal. Now, people dress up like gold miners, going back to the old days.
Gujarat’s Hodka village lends visitors a feel of rural life, while Kala Gram developed in Jaipur, Rajasthan, is famous for its handicrafts. The artisan village, developed to encourage traditional artists and market their goods better, sells the state’s handicrafts such as Bagru print, mojri work and Barmeri cloth.
Bihar has been late to the game, but better late than never.
Deepak Prasad, principal secretary, tourism, said: “There are many villages in the state famous for its art and artefacts. There are villages with artists who are experts in Madhubani paintings, apart from handloom and other works. These villages can be first identified and then an ambience created which will give tourists a feel of the place. They can also know how a particular art form originated in a village and then thrived. The villages can be transformed. The department is working on the idea but we need the proper backing and support of other departments too.”
“The industries department can help us develop the villages and encourage their art. Not only would the artists profit, it would help gain them recognition too,” he said.
The tourism department’s principal secretary added that although Bihar enjoys a steady inflow of tourists, the problem lies in holding them back to the state. “Tourists generally come to Bihar and visit Bodhgaya, Nalanda and Rajgir. They mostly stay for two to three days. We have to come up with a plan that will hold them back for at least a week or more. For that, they need to be shown new places. The idea of rural tourism is bound to click with them,” he said.
Sources said, for now, Patharkatti village in Gaya’s Atri block is being looked at to launch the initiative. The place is already close to the tourist hot spot of Bodhgaya and is easy to develop than other options in the state.
Another tourism department official said: “Patharkatti, around 35km northeast of Gaya, is known for its sculptors. One can develop the village and allow tourists to know the village’s history, how the people learnt to make sculptures and how they have kept the art alive. A small market can be developed at the village where tourists can buy the artisan’s products. The artists would be trained better, too, so that they can excel more. Tourists would definitely be interested in such a place and the state’s tourism prospects will automatically receive a boost.”
The official added there were more villages like Patharkatti that could be developed too. One of such options is Nepura village in Rajgir. “It is famous for handlooms, but the village is very under-developed,” he said.