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Friends of Orchha
IRTA 2018 Gold Winner, Community-owned Homestays & Agri-Tourism
The Friends of Orchha is a registered non-profit organisation formed in 2006 to create livelihoods, preserve the built heritage of Orchha and to promote cultural exchange between visitors and locals. The Friends of Orchha initiative was a response to four years of drought in Bundelkhand to spread the economic and cultural benefits of tourism to the families of small farmers, artisans and labourers. The Friends of Orchha provided the capital to build a sanitary block in the family compounds. The judges were impressed by the business model. The Friends of Orchha provided the loan capital for the sanitation block repaid from tourism earnings. The families provided the labour to build the blocks and gain additional income. This business model enabled poor families to engage in business, earn an additional income while avoiding risk. Each of the families has at least tripled their incomes and acquired an asset. There is obvious scope for replication. The women from the six families currently engaged in the project are the key actors. The fact that foreigners stay with them, and eat food cooked by them, has countered discrimination, boosted their confidence and social status and empowered them.
The Sarai at Toria, near Khajuraho
IRTA 2019 Silver Winner, Best Earth Friendly
Thick mud walls create traditional village style buildings with eight unexpectedly elegant interiors. The rooms are designed to preclude the need for energy-intensive heating and cooling. The walls, constructed of mud and thatch, are two feet thick stabilising the ambient temperature. The windows are positioned for light and to create a cross breeze when open. Much of the grounds comprises grassland and an area of wild tree cover to provide a diverse habitat for birds. The Sarai has set menus to reduce food waste, and guest soaps and shampoos are sourced from a local women’s co-operative. The Sarai provides accommodation for travellers visiting Khajuraho and the Panna Tiger Reserve. This is an example of an earth-friendly accommodation which provides high-quality accommodation for sightseeing travellers in Madhya Pradesh as well as being a destination in itself.