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What happens when you stay in India with SaveAGram?

You’ll discover secret places only the villagers know.

Every time Amala Menon visits the villages of Wayanad in Kerala, India, she gets a surge of pride.

“These are villages that God created in the best way possible,” she says.

In spring, the hills are covered with luscious tropical foliage, the paddy fields sparkle emerald green, you hear and see birds in their multitude; the abundance can stop you in your tracks.

But Amala noticed that the villagers themselves didn’t value what they had. Many perceived city life to be better.

She saw an opportunity — empower the villagers within their own ecosystems. Show them the value of what they have and enable them to earn income from it.

Amala started SaveAGram (means Save A Village) which invites people to experience village life, first-hand with a local family.

In Wayanad, your hosts are the Nambiar family.

Kesavan — an accomplished tabla player — inherited the home from his ancestors.

His son Rijesh and his wife Souwmya run the farm and are happy for guests to take part in any of the activities.

Sumathi, Kesavan’s wife, is the magician. Using produce picked from their farm, often on the day it’s cooked, she creates ethnic dishes specific only to the region from recipes handed down by her mother. There are all sorts of rotis (Indian breads), chutneys, curries, vegetable medleys cooked over a wood-fired stove.

There is a lot more to do in the area — treks into the forest led by a local guide, visits to the unique temples, and volunteering time at a local school that provides free food and education to children of tribal communities.

SaveAGram’s concept is to create a ripple of benefit through the community, through experiences that only a local can give you.

SaveAGram also offers a homestay in the village of Gaja in Garhwal, Uttarakhand, which is at the foothills of the Himalayas.

Contributors
Text by  :   Ashima Thomas
Photography  :   Gayatri Ganju
Executive Producer  :   Denise Oliveiro