Responsible Travel and Experiential Learning in India that Benefits Local Communities
Dharma Endeavours is an attempt to connect and celebrate the rural heart of India, its living, natural and man-made heritage with the rest of the world. We use rural India as a canvas for learning, making it a small step in people's own journey of growth. In doing so our aim is to increase the annual income of rural families by at least 25%, thereby strengthening their economic security. We do this by training, mobilizing and networking with local families and organizations so that they are able to host experiences (Dharma Experiences) and provide clean, hygienic accommodations (Dharma Stays). We then promote them to our urban national and international networks through a booking platform designed to account for rural realities.
Our guests are the fuel that drives our initiative. They come from all walks of life and nationalities but they all have one thing in common: they’re on a journey of growth; travel for them is more than just site-seeing. Whether you’re a traveller, a tourist, a student or a corporate organization, if you’re keen to learn from rural India, are focused on self-transformation and happy that this learning opportunity also benefits local communities, then you’re in the right place! Yes, its responsible travel. It’s also experiential learning.
We want to be another step on your path to transformation.
Note from the Founder
I grew up outside India entirely unaware of Her history, culture, heritage and challenges. It was my own loss. One day, I got on a train to Orissa called the Garib Rath (Poor Man’s Chariot). That train took me into my first exploration of the country, unadulterated by media bias, scholarly intellect and arm-chair critique. I spoke to families whose daughters were ‘studying in another town’, only to be informed later on that the girls were likely sold into sexual slavery. The sharp truth of those casual words burst my ignorant bubble. By the time I returned to my beloved Bangalore, I knew nothing would be the same again.
Far removed from my reality were the rural and agrarian communities of India. They form the backbone of the country, yet their voices often go unheard in the clamour and noise of a new and modern India. A study and exploration of this taught me and humbled me more than I can say. I travelled to various parts of the country, speaking to communities, organizations and change makers. It reduced my ignorance, but not that much.
Around 5 years ago, I decided to start a venture of my own. So, I hopped on a bus and decided to go back to my roots in North Karnataka. Dharma Endeavours emerged as result of my own travels, learning and experiences. It is a combination of 3 things:
At the base of all this is the firm belief that businesses are one of the most powerful engines of poverty alleviation, if not the most powerful. Yet, convention does not view them as such. In the past, this has been the sole authority of non-profit organizations. We are living in exciting times. The rigid lines of purely for-profit companies and non-profit organizations is being blurred. I believe it is for the better. Companies can no longer look at purely for-profit endeavours and place the socio-environmental costs of their business as externalities to be ignored. When first I started to think of setting up a company, I wanted to lay out what we stood for. The following emerged as the governing tenets of our work:
As far as possible, these are the pillars I go back to, in making difficult decisions about business. I know that with time, as the organization evolves and grows, they will evolve also.
I hope you will be a part of this journey, whether by booking with us, following our social media handles or just exploring through your travels your own ways of bridging the divide between people. We strive to go beyond thoughts and words to practical actions.
India’s heart beats in its rural communities. Her soul lies in its living and past heritage. The country’s nearly 650,000 villages account for about 70% of its population. Yet traveling in India to explore this rich heritage presents difficulties of its own. Often, there is no guarantee of hygiene, good service delivery or even reliable information. When the founder was traveling through the country, she was both amazed by its diversity and troubled by the challenges in accessing it.
We work to bridge this gap by:
- Training (formally or informally) local families and organizations to host guests;
- Linking and promoting reliable hospitality services: there are Dharma Stays, which are accommodations run by locals and Dharma Experiences, which are activities hosted by locals.
- Setting up a technology platform: this booking platform takes into consideration rural realities and is designed to make your booking and their hosting easier;
- Information dissemination: our blog is an attempt to voice the stories of rural India and its peoples, to raise awareness of their ideologies, customs and struggles and to ultimately build a bridge between the ever-widening gap between rural and urban India.
Enabling Social Impact Through Responsible Travel in India
The 70% of India that is engaged in agriculture and its related activities represent just 20% of its GDP. And account for nearly 80% of the country’s poverty. We aim to create impact in two ways: an individual level and community level.
Both Dharma Stays and Dharma Experiences as a revenue stream seek to strengthen the economic security of rural families. Our aim is to increase their annual income by at least 25%.
We also undertake specific projects that positively impact the communities where we are present. They range from providing drinking water facilities to a local school to bringing dustbins to a village to help the local NGO with waste management.
Join us! We welcome to the family! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram. I you like what we write, share our articles. And if you really want to explore, then come and book with us.