Bihar village
Tourists in Bihar will soon get an opportunity to stay in villages and interact with residents. Image Credit:

Patna: In a novel initiative, the state government in Bihar is offering “home stay” facilities in villages so that tourists can experience life in a village from close quarters. Millions of tourists visit Bihar every year on sightseeing tours and pilgrimages, many of them associated with Buddhism.

Under the new plan, tourists will be offered accommodation in the houses of villagers, instead of hotels. These homes will be attractive and clean, with facilities like power and attached bathrooms.

“This will be beneficial for both the villagers and the tourists. While the villagers will earn money by offering their homes to the visiting guests, the latter will get a fairly new experience by mingling with villagers and getting to know them personally,” said Prabhakar, Bihar state tourism development corporation’s managing director.

Officials said they were hiring an agency to work out the ambitious project. Their job will be to extensively publicise this scheme in the areas and bring the tourists for home stay in villages which should be closer to the tourist spots and have proper road connectivity. After selection of the villages, the homes of the villagers will be checked, before home stay is allowed.

The villagers will be given training on how to interact with tourists. They will also be adequately briefed about food habits of tourists, their transport and other related facilities so that tourists are interested in staying in the village, rather than in expensive luxury hotels. “We see huge potential in this plan and are hence working seriously on this project,” Prabhakar said.

The pilot project is being kick-started in Bodh Gaya and Rajgir, two prominent tourist spots associated with Buddhism, which attract a number of domestic and foreigner tourists every year. After the success of the project, this will be extended to other parts of the state.

It is believed that Buddha got enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in the 6th century BC, while he taught his disciples at Rajgir in Nalanda district. The teachings of Buddha were penned down at Rajgir and it was also the venue for the first Buddhist Council.

Both places have been attracting a large number of tourists every year. Last year, 704,809 foreign tourists visited Bihar. In 2018, 1.08 million foreign tourists visited the state while in 2017 their number stood at 1.09 million. This year, the tourism industry has been adversely impacted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.