The site of lush green mountains; the rays of rising sun; the sound of falling water; the squeals of peacocks; and a huge fort on the top of hills, with all its pride peeping through misty curtains of clouds at a small village below. Sounds like a paradise for nature lovers and a coveted tourist’s destination.
But is it?
This surreal appearing place is a village called Khandar in Rajasthan, India near Ranthambore sanctuary; which is the reason for its little glory as a tourist spot. The magnificent fort called the Khandar Quila holds in its walls, the history of kings who reportedly have never lost a war.
Today, the ruins of this fort serve as a picnic spot for the villagers and shelter for wildlife. The green cover surrounding the fort provides rural population with wood and animal feed. During the monsoons, the hill provides direction to the falling rains which, after ground water, is the major water source for the village.
But like any other community, this one too faces many challenges. The rains that bring the place alive are also a cause of agony to many. As the village is located at foots of the hill, it gets flooded during high monsoons. Also, people are dependent on ground water for drinking and those who cannot afford a bore well and pump have to travel miles to collect it from those who can. Also, there is no proper waste management system. People dump their garbage in any open plot, which keeps on accumulating for weeks till it is removed by the district authorities or washed down by the rains. But being an environmentalist I believe these are not the problems that can’t be solved with community support.
Standing at the fort, I heard its history, saw the present and envisaged a future. A future wherein the community not only tackle its current issues but also utilize all the beauty it has been adorned with.
This place has all what it requires to be a tourist spot and it does attract many even today; so why not involve the community in it. Once the tourism starts generating revenues here, most of these problems would be solved. To start with; cleanliness is always a top priority for tourism, the waste disposal issue has be the first step. As most of the rural waste is organic, simple compost pits can be set up with the help of villagers. Other non-organic waste can be sent to nearest town Madhopur for processing and we can also bring in the concept of Eco-tourism. To solve the problem of flooding check dams can be a potential solution. They’d not only help in preventing the village from getting inundated but also be a perennial source of water for villagers.
Unfortunately, my visit there was very brief and I couldn’t dwell into the feasibility of this project but I’d love to explore. We’ve heard a lot of examples of community development from tourism, this can well be one.