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Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation puts Anna’s village, Amte’s commune on tourist circuit Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation puts Anna’s village, Amte’s commune on tourist circuit

Jul-01-2015 | 0 Comments


PUNE: Coming from the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) stable, here is a chance to visit places associated with the life and works of social reformers.

In a strict sense social tourism is the extension of the benefits of tourism to disadvantaged people who otherwise could not afford to travel, but the corporation has given 'social tourism, with its dash of seriousness, a new meaning.

The recently developed model will take the truly interested on a tour to destinations including Ralegan Siddhi, Hiware Bazar and Anandvan, among others. If lucky, one can meet the movers and shakers who transformed these places into centres of social reform.

The effort focuses on tourists who want to visit such places but are not well-equipped with information or logistics.

The tours that stretch up to eight days can motivate people who interact with the legends, an MTDC official told TOI. "We realized that Maharashtra has seen the rise of so many social crusaders who transformed their native or chosen places. Many people influenced by such reformers wish to meet them or see the places they have created. These tours address this niche sector of tourists," the official added.

One of the tour packages include visits to Anandvan, Hemalkasa, Somnath, SEARCH (The Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health) and Tadoba, while another includes visits to Ralegan Siddhi, Hiware Bazar, Snehalay, Sawali and Vigyan Ashram.

Close to 250-300 tourists have already availed the tours and met social crusader Anna Hazare and Baba Amte's son Vikas, an official added. The MTDC got in touch with these crusaders who take some time out for the visiting tourists, imparting knowledge intrinsic to their centres.

Amrut Yatra, a tourism company, has been officially recognised by MTDC for conducting social tourism in Maharashtra. "The initiative takes tourists close to the people and projects that have brought transformation from the grassroots upwards, and have contributed to the cause of nation-building," said Navin Anil Kale, co-founder of Amrut Yatra.

Tourists who visit Ralegan Siddhi can meet Hazare if he is available, as have many in the past, said Kale. "Ralegan Siddhi is a self-sufficient village and has become a model for watershed development because of Hazare. The World Bank has praised the village for the development. This village is considered a model for environmental conservation, while its biggest achievement is the use of non-conventional energy," said Kale.

"At Anandvan, tourists can meet Baba Amte's son Vikas Amte (if he is available) who could share with them the history of the place and the work. At Hemalkasa, they could meet Prakash Amte and his family," said Kale.

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