Isoti, Pauri Garhwal Homestay Receives Indian Responsible Tourism Award 2023
(Manoj Istwal, Dehradun) : Home stays have been gaining popularity as a unique way for travelers to experience local culture and hospitality in a sustainable and responsible manner. In India, the Indian Responsible Tourism Award recognizes and honors such home stays that preserve and promote the country’s cultural and social heritage while providing exceptional service to guests.
Isoti, a picturesque village situated at the base of the Ameli Danda mountain peak in Ekeshwar block of Pauri Garhwal, has been bestowed with the Indian Responsible Tourism Award-2023. The village, with its breathtaking natural beauty and abundant wildlife, is a paradise for bird watchers.
The Neglected Village Transformed
Before the formation of the state, Isoti was an isolated village, which was difficult to reach due to the absence of proper roads. The village was neglected for many years until the state government built a road to reach it. With the advent of the road, the village started to flourish, and its youth started returning from cities to their homes. Moreover, the elite families that had migrated to the plains also started coming back.
The Visionaries Behind Isoti Homestay
It was during this time that the Ishtwal siblings, Kavindra, Umesh, Ashish, and Anjali, decided to do something together for the village they love. They founded the Dagdya Foundation, and from it was born the Orthotic Himalayan Village Homestay Isoti in 2018. The homestay operator, former village head Hem Chand Ishtwal, and present head Arjun Ishtwal accepted the Indian Responsible Tourism Award-2023 in the Once to Walk category, awarded by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin at the award ceremony held in Ooty on 17 March 2023.
Isoti Homestay – A Model of Responsible Tourism
Isoti Homestay is a model of responsible tourism. The homestay offers guests an opportunity to experience the local culture and lifestyle in a sustainable manner. The homestay operates on the principles of responsible tourism, which involves minimizing the negative impact of tourism on the environment, promoting cultural exchange, and contributing to the local economy.
A Village Reborn
Isoti Homestay has put Isoti on the tourism map, providing a source of income to the villagers and reviving the local economy. It has also helped to conserve the natural environment by promoting responsible tourism practices. The award-winning homestay is a shining example of how responsible tourism can transform a neglected village into a thriving tourist destination while preserving its natural beauty and culture.
Jury Members of the Indian Responsible Tourism Award
The Indian Responsible Tourism Award is a significant recognition for home stays in India. The award’s jury members for this year include distinguished individuals like Rakesh Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, CB Rajkumar, Vice Chair, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Sanjay Sondhi, Founder, Trustee, Titli Trust, Vaibhav Kala, Founder, Aquatera Adventure and Vice President, AUTOI, Raj Basu Founder, Help Tourism & Advisor, Rural Tourism & Homestay South Asia, Malika Virdi Founder Director Himalayan Arch, and Jonna Van Gruysen Owner-Partner, Sarai et Toria & Conservationist, among others.
The Success Story of Dagdya Foundation
Colonel Ashish Ishtwal, the founder of Dagdya Foundation, had a burning desire to work for the rural society, classmates of soil and water, and preserve the village’s valuable heritage together with his younger sister Anjali Istwal, he decided to take their village’s pure organic products to the international market to gain recognition. Anjali promoted the products by setting up stalls in markets like Delhi. Then, in 2018, they established home stays through Dagdya Foundation, which has since become known on the international stage for its unique hospitality and natural beauty.
Hem Chand Ishtwal’s Journey
Hem Chand Ishtwal, the director of the home stay, returned to his village after living outside in Dehradun for only 10 years of his life. When he started home stay in 2018, there was some hesitation because his village fell in off-side tourism. However, he took the initiative and got his 400-year-old ancestral house renovated, with two rooms ready for home stay. Even though the people of the village initially considered it awkward, they decided to take the leap of faith. After the two-year corona period, the home stay started again in 2021 with renewed enthusiasm. Today, the guests are not just visitors, but they become a part of the family, eating and cooking together like in a home.
The Indian Responsible Tourism Award recognizes the importance of promoting sustainable and responsible tourism practices in India. Home stays like the ones established through Dagdya Foundation and run by Hem Chand Ishtwal are shining examples of how the tourism industry can support local communities while preserving cultural and social heritage. The success of these ventures shows that responsible tourism can be a profitable and enriching experience for both guests and hosts.