Unexplored Bastar – Tourism with Impact
Unexplored Bastar is a travel startup based on social entrepreneurship model from Bastar, Chhattisgarh. It is focused on sustainable tourism through a community-based approach. Seven years back, Unexplored Bastar started as a Facebook page but its actual journey as a Tourism Promotion Agency and Travel organization started in 2016 when one of the co-founder of Facebook page Jeet Singh Arya decided to leave the corporate and work on ground level for the tourism promotion of Bastar and involving local tribal community in the tourism sector and since then Unexplored Bastar has been working tirelessly along with endorsing the various natural as well as historical sites present in Bastar and its endowed tribal culture to the populous in Indian subcontinent and outside.
It started offering exclusively customized Bastar tour packages through social media infusion and with an active participation of various stakeholders in these tours categorized under Bastar Eco Tours, Bastar Adventure Tours and Bastar Ethno Tours or Bastar Cultural tour, it enabled successful implementation of the same proposed activities. Meanwhile, Unexplored Bastar also started organizing several other promotional events with the support from Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, District Administration of Bastar and Dantewada and other local partners in the lieu to change the perception of the visitors who thought of Bastar as a conflict zone. The entire approach is also followed by large-scale involvement of local tribal people with the support of APS, an NGO from Bastar which in addition led to generate livelihoods for them. This included activities like providing stay to tourists at their home, their assistance as local guides and an opportunity to sell their mass-produced handicrafts to tourists visiting Bastar. Presently, Unexplored Bastar is impacting lives of 200+ Bastar tribal youths.
Unexplored Bastar has a tie-up with an NGO, named APS, which has trained approximately 240 local tribal people in the tourism and hospitality sector to enhance their livelihood opportunities. These local communities are the real service providers of Unexplored Bastar for implementation of different innovations at the grass-root level. They work structurally by forming SHGs at Chitrakote, Tirtha, Dantewada, Palnaar, Phoolpad, Dholkal and Barsoor. Hence, Unexplored Bastar has created ample opportunities for sustainable employment of all tribals.
While many travel startups are focusing on technological advancements, Unexplored Bastar’s objective is to augment travel experience at Bastar. In future, they plan on scaling their venture forward with promoting other remote areas in the heartland of Odisha and other North-Eastern states.
1. Reliving Adventure – It offers adventure sports at Chitrakote waterfalls (India’s widest waterfall) like flying fox, river crossing, zorbing, trekking, climbing, hiking, camping etc.
2. Experiencing Tribal Culture – As Bastar is the soil of tribal communities and hence Unexplored Bastar showcases the tribal culture – their festivals, fairs, handicrafts, Rituals (Devgudis & Matagudis) and their lifestyle (tribal homestays and tribal food) to visitors.
3. Appreciating Nature – Since Bastar is blessed with large and dense forests, the tourists get to sensitize natural elements. Moreover, they customise the tour as per the likings of the visitors and offer trained tribal guides who have the expertise in the respective areas to enhance their travel experience.
While many travel startups are focusing on technological advancements, Unexplored Bastar’s objective is to augment travel experience at Bastar. In future, they plan on scaling their venture forward with promoting other remote areas in the heartland of Odisha and other North Eastern states.
TEAM – a versatile passionate group of individuals working for a common cause
Jeet Singh Arya, Co-founder of Unexplored Bastar is a passionate traveller and has travelled across most Indian states covering various remote areas. He has always been passionate towards experiencing diverse tribal cultures in different parts of India. After a corporate stint as a researcher and partner at Ahmedabad based research and consulting organization, he decided to focus on his extreme liking towards travelling and promoting tourism in his homeland, Bastar, while creating and connecting local livelihood opportunities for the tribal communities of Bastar.
Because of his unique approach towards developing & promoting Tourism in Bastar region, he has been recognized and invited as a speaker in various events and forums like TEDx by IIM Raipur, and India’s first Tribal Entrepreneurship Summit organized by Dantewada District Administration in support of NITI Aayog.
He was also featured in one episode of History TV18 series OMG Chhattisgarh Season 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=876JgZRbnq8 and Humans of Raipur https://www.facebook.com/RAIPUR.humans.stories/posts/1495463187238262
Being the taproot of the organization, he knows how to bind every single individual and his smile and wit relishes all teammates. While during camping, he entertains everyone with his ghostly stories and accounts.
Mayuri Singh, Project Consultant – Tourism, a lawyer by profession but a vivid traveller by passion. She is also a triathlete, a Half Iron Man finisher and has backpacked solo for 6 months in South East Asia. She puts all her experiences and energy on getting things done in a more practical and systematic way in tourism consulting division of Unexplored Bastar. She also leads the business development segment and works in developing some innovative projects for Unexplored Bastar.
She is always on her toes when you say some adventure is there. One very unusual trait of hers: she travels with her laptop and makes touristic locations her own office.
Vijendra Raikwar, Creative Head, is a creative person who demonstrates the link between nature and our social intervention in the tourism sector. An art graduate from Amity University, Noida, he is a professional in animation with specialization in conceptual art, but he equally has expertise in traditional as well as contemporary art. Although working as a Medical Illustrator, he has the quest to design more of graphics and creatives.
He says less but creates more. The man with the bald look is a storehouse of creativity who is less expressive in words but more with his art.
B Bindu, Digital Marketing Manager, is an engineering graduate with Master in Sociology, because of this, apart from her regular work in digital marketing space she also works closely in the community-based interventions of Unexplored Bastar. She is very familiar to tribal stakeholders and always thinks something innovative about their growth. While working here she also follows her passion for writing and exploring the unexplored places in Bastar region. By writing blogs and contents for various social media handles, she brings out the hidden beauty of Bastar in words. Her poem recitals are being recognized locally and at the state level. She performed at Speak Up Jagdalpur and also at Karigari Raipur.
Earlier, she also worked as a Trainer and Community Mobilizer at APS.
Although it might be a little difficult to hear her as she speaks so softly when she starts talking about Bastar, her passion and commitment towards this land is not only heard prominently but can be seen clearly in the twinkle of her eyes.
Rohima Paul, Sales Manager – Tour packages, is a crucial link, who always comes with innovative ideas for our social entrepreneurship model and links market with the concerned community stakeholders. Graduated in Tourism Studies, she joined Unexplored Bastar to share her knowledge for the development of tourism in Chhattisgarh region. When in office, she augments all the business models, while in the field, she manages all the operations. She also worked as a trainer in the hospitality sector in an aviation company.
She is the first person you will meet when you enter our office, who always welcomes with a warm smile. You might always find her on phone managing the daily chores of packages as well as handling the clients and ground level implementers.
Sonsay Nag, Logistics Manager, with an infectious smile, is a young gentleman from Dhurwa tribe. You can call him as one man army, who single handedly manages all the logistics and operations and acts as a link between the tribal community and tourists. You will find him in the field, most of the time, engaging the self-help groups involved in tourism activities and managing all the operations. He is a full time certified guide from Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, and so he also guides tourists and makes them aware of the rich cultural heritage and biodiversity of the unexplored land of Bastar. He is doing all these activities while pursuing his graduation.
When you camp with him at Chitrakote waterfalls, expect to see him dive in the river for an early morning bath.
Manish Panigrahi, Research Associate, artistic in nature but graduated in science. Being curious and having a keen interest in travelling, he joined Unexplored Bastar to explore more about the majestic land of Bastar. Being a 360 Aranyak Brahmin, he knows minute details of Devi Danteshwari and some of the most important festivals of Bastar like Goncha festival and Bastar Dusshera. He helps in getting all the necessary details from the community and it helps in managing and coordinating with self-help groups for better implementation of sustainable activities promoting eco-ethno-adventure tourism.
You will see him always thinking something, which sometimes confuses people that he is overloaded with work, but without such overload, he can’t enjoy work. Irony!!!!
Udesh Kumar Katchh, Tour Guide, is a passionate personality from the Muriya tribal community. He is also a full time certified guide from Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. Exploring the unexplored places while trekking and passing on all the information to our tourists is his stronghold area. He also keeps track about the News on Bastar Tourism and updates all the team members regularly.
He is still so shy that you have to pinch him again and again to know more about the places and culture. You can easily see him clicking selfies and immediately updating them on social media.
Mayank Nirmalkar, Tour Guide, currently pursuing B.Sc. in Geology, is the man whom you can see in uniform as an NCC cadet. He got recognized at National level for his work as the NCC cadet. He is a man of the moment with a cute smile and handsome personality. Joined as a trainee under Tourism course, he is also a full time certified guide from Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. He engages all the tour groups with his jolly attitude.
Always frustrated over pimples while trekking and camping, he still outnumbers his pimples with the number of people surrounding him.
Apart from it, there are 20+ individuals who are supporting us on a part-time basis.
Ashish Pandey, CEO, Bastar KPCL, is our lead to promote organic farming and millets of Bastar. Tourists get to know about the indigenous farming products and also the farming techniques of Bastar by connecting through the farmers of KPCL. The aroma of Bastar products acts as the required souvenir to visit Bastar again.
Ashish helps Unexplored Bastar in developing agriculture tours and also facilitates tourists in understanding the agricultural practices of tribal communities in the Bastar region.
Brijesh Kumar is a Community Developer at Freecodecamp and a former senior research fellow at Tata-RKSS project. He is a Master of innovation and has experience in working with NASA.
He handles all the technical glitches in our tech-based work.
Shubham Waykole, popularly known as Travel Bhramar, is the digital nomad, who helps us with new marketing strategies digitally.
Devika Saha, Content Writer, is an aspirant of public service examinations. To contribute towards the society and Bastar, she has joined us on volunteering.
The team who were in budding days— These individuals are the ones who shaped us through their knowledge and commitment. Though they are not working with Unexplored Bastar anymore, we are always indebted to their guidance.
Jitendra Nakka, is an inquisitive individual from Geology background, with a keen interest in the tribal cultural, natural, historical and geological aspects of Bastar. He was one of the founders when Unexplored Bastar started its journey on social media. His extreme likings towards Bastar’s natural and cultural heritage gave wings to many blogs and systematic research.
Ashish Gadpale, a post graduate in Geology, he developed more user-friendly readable contents with his writing skills and based on his experience of travelling to interior places of Bastar. He was also part of Unexplored Bastar during its early days in social media.
Naina Singh, the first women Mountaineer from Chhattisgarh, is the one person about whom entire Chhattisgarh is proud of. She was part of the expedition team of Bhachendri Pal for the Bhagirathi Summit. Her short, but intense period with Unexplored Bastar gave a fresh start to adventurous sports like River Rappelling. With her expertise, she set a pace for many trekking activities in the region.
PARTNERING AND SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION
TEAMWORK CREATIONS – Manifest your vision, founded by Mr Anzaar Nabi, it’s a film/television studio, has expertise in shooting documentaries, short films, promotional videos and all types of photography related projects.
As visuals impact more than words, various documentaries and videos have been filmed by Teamwork Creations, showcasing the real beauty of Bastar, be it the majestic waterfalls, ethnic tribal culture and rich heritage of the land.
Teamwork Creations most trusted partnered of Unexplored Bastar and ever since Unexplored Bastar started its journey of ground level community engagements they are helping with their area of expertise.
CLICK BASTAR – Community of photographers, a registered photographers’ society with a group of vibrant photographers. Click Bastar is an initiative to bring all photographers of various genres including wildlife, nature, landscape, art and culture, sculpture, tradition, archaeology, macro and street, under one umbrella in order to bring more of Bastar through the lenses.
Click Bastar organizes photo walks, workshops, photography contests (partnering District Administration and Unexplored Bastar) and photo exhibitions throughout the year. Click Bastar creates an opportunity for learning, exchange of ideas and appreciation of the art. It provides an ideal platform to learn and practice photography as a hobby, passion or profession.
APS – Non-profit organization, is the real hand behind community skill development and the formation of SHGs at Bastar and Dantewada, who are the partnering organization of Unexplored Bastar. APS has trained the youth from local tribal communities to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for them in the tourism and hospitality sector.
BASTAR LAND OF TRIBAL, founded by Mr Shakeel Rizvi is a homestay provider and guide is a real gem of Bastar, who portrays the raw tribal indigenous culture to foreign clientele.
Bastar Land of Tribal is the partner of Unexplored Bastar in ethno tourism.
HAMARA JAGDALPUR – the first portal site of Jagdalpur, HamaraJagdalpur.com
HamaraJagdalpur.com contains the facts and figures which reveal all the necessary information about the city of Jagdalpur and provides visitors with everything they need to know to travel, live, do business in Jagdalpur City.
HamaraJagdalpur.com is not just common informative web portal but it is the great website for all types of visitors. This site throws light on the day to day activities in connection with Jagdalpur city as well as Bastar district.
Hamara Jagdalpur has developed the website of Unexplored Bastar.
ALPHAPRENEUR – the collaborative effort of the startup community, an initiative to bring the most powerful personalities of Indian startup ecosystem on one stage to empower passionate souls and startups in Central India.
Alphapreneur has collaborated with Unexplored Bastar for the successful organizing of various conferences like Bastar Innovision Conference, which was an eye-opener for many people from outside Bastar.
The Main link – Community Tourism
With the support of district administration at Dantewada and Bastar, more than 100 tribal people in Dantewada district and 50 youths in Bastar district are trained in the tourism and hospitality sector. These trained people have formed six different Self – Help Groups to let tourists know about the culture and tradition of Dantewada and Bastar region. These SHGs are functional at Dantewada, Palnaar, Dholkal, Barsoor in Dantewada district and at Chitrakote, Tirtha in Bastar district.
DANTEWADA TOURISM GROUP
The historical land of Dantewada on the confluence of Shankini – Dankini river, fascinates everyone visiting it. Members of Dantewada Tourism Group will brief you about the glorifying history of Dantewada and Devi Danteshwari and manage all the operational activities.
PALNAAR TOURISM GROUP
Holding Phoolpad waterfall in its lap, Palnaar – the first cashless village of Chhattisgarh state, is an alluring beauty of the plateau of Dandakaranya. Palnaar Tourism Group, which consists of the local guides to carry out all the adventurous activities like river crossing, river rappelling etc, will avail you with an unforgettable experience with their delicious tribal cuisine and warm hospitality.
DHOLKAL TOURISM GROUP
Dholkal Tourism Group arranges and manages all the requirements of yours when you participate in the 5kms long Dholkal trail. They will guide you to the height of 3000 ft of the Dholkal peak, which is the abode of 11th century Ganesha idol and let you have information about the wonderful biodiversity around. They also provide camping facilities at the Dholkal Base Camp.
BARSOOR TOURISM GROUP
Holding the prehistoric legacy in itself, Barsoor was the capital of Banasoor. It was also recognized as ‘the city of temples’. While visiting this archaeological land, members of Barsoor Tourism Group will let you know all the facts and stories related to it. These members will also arrange all the operational and logistic arrangements for you. All these activities and hospitality by the members of the group will lead you to have a cherishable experience.
INDRAVATI TOURISM GROUP
BASTAR TOURISM GROUP
Waking up to the sight of gigantic Chitrakote waterfalls with a beautiful morning is a treat to one’s soul. Bastar Tourism Group rolls up their sleeves to give you a cherishing memorable experience while camping at Tirtha side of Chitrakote waterfalls. Delicacies of Bastar cooked by them will make you lick your fingers especially Bada and imli chutney. They have expertise in boating too.
These SHGs work as local guides and avail tourists with mesmerizing experience. The members of these SHGs understand and convey the positive aspects of local customs, traditions of indigenous people and also act as a link between the local communities and the tourists. This initiative to empower local people by creating livelihoods in the tourism sector has helped them to lead a cheerful happy life.
These SHGs are the real partners for Unexplored Bastar who contribute to our greater vision of eco-ethno-adventure tourism.