Edge of India is a network of rural communities in remote parts of India, offering homestays in villages 'off the beaten track' with extraordinary cultural and natural heritage. The network was developed through a programme funded by the Scottish Government and implemented by partners in India and Scotland, including Dunira Strategy, Queen Margaret University and the Strategic Initiatives, Government & Advisory (SIGA) division of Yes Bank and with web development by Ezone. Building local capacity through training and marketing activities and using co-operative model for destination management, the project was funded by the Scottish Government through its International Development Programme because it is based on co-operative principles developed by Robert Owen at Scotland's New Lanark and also draws on Dunira's work in destination management in such places as Highland Perthshire, and SIGA's work on using tourism as one of the tools to achieve an inclusive growth model for India. For small villages that previously almost never saw a tourist, the network is transformational. The network has been presented at leading tourism fairs, including GITB and WTM. Each district has established its own locally owned and managed tourism co-operative society as a cDMO ('co-operative destination management organisation'), led by our team of local co-ordinators, ensuring that benefits remain in the community and that every visitor has the best possible and most authentic visitor experience.
Mahabir Singh Bankoti is the Edge of India’s Co-ordinator for Uttarakhand . Mahabir has a background in production and research for TV documentaries as well as running training workshops and seminars in Uttarakhand. He has also been assistant director and project co-ordinator for a Folk Lore Study commissioned by the Ministry of Culture. Mahabir comes from Gurna Village in Bageshwar District, and he wants to be able to help create job opportunities in the villages of the region and stem the migration of young people to the big cities.
Gokul Singh Dev is Local Co-ordinator and Chairman of Bageshwar Ecotourism Co-operative Society. Gokul has a diverse background, ranging from social worker, to local politician and contractor in construction of hospitals and schools in rural areas. He is interested in innovative projects in tourism development of undiscovered destinations, and recognises the importance of not wasting the many resources his region boasts, but of preserving them and at the same time upgrading lifestyles of the communities.
Bishan Singh Tanwal
is Local Co-ordinator and President of Ranikhet Ecotourism Co-operative Society
. His background is in social work and his wife (also a member of the Co-operative Society) is a gram pradhan (village leader). Bishan is actively involved in many local development projects, including starting a small school for young disadvantaged children in Kothiyan village and has run a home stay for the past 9 years. He wants to stop the migration of local people away from the villages and improve livelihoods through tourism.
The goal of Edge of India is to provide sustainable livelihoods for the induividuals and communities which make up the Edge of India tourism cooperatives. Working together, we have built up the knowledge to be able to provide great experiences for visitors withiout having a detrimental impact on the very things which attracts them in the first place. Preserving these magical places so that others can continue to enjoy them relies not only on the hosts, but also on visitors being responsible.
What is responsible tourism?
Responsible tourism means ensuring the wellbeing of local communities and culture as well as wildlife conservation and the environment.
What does this mean for Edge of India?
all staff employed are local residents, from co-ordinators, to guides and drivers
services and goods are locally sourced as much as possible, (including local, mostly organic meals), ensuring local benefits and reduced environmental impact through transportation
supporting community cooperation, initiatives and development, helping families and benefitting the wider community
local people are involved in decision-making
opportunities for local entrepreneurs to develop and sell local food produce, handicrafts and performance arts
skills development through training workshops in destination management, marketing, communication skills, health & safety
more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people
activities encourage cultural sensitivity, engendering respect between tourists and hosts, without jeopardising the provision of basic services or access to local livelihoods
activities encourage environmental and ecological sensitivity
Read our Edge of India co-operative principles
Know before you go! Read the Code of Conduct (also available in Hindi and Bengali)
For more information please use the enquiry form or send us an email.