Taking a stroll through a manicured garden overlooking verdant fields and rolling hills, gazing at clear skies, watching the village women rhythmically pound paddy in a mortar, listening to the hum of the potters’ wheel and the faint chirrup of birds.
A day at Giri Grama Darshini, a tourism project set up by the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) and the Pedalabudu Eco Tourism Society, offers a peek into the adivasi lifestyle, culture and tradition.
Located about seven kilometres from Araku and 120 kilometres from Visakhapatnam, the tourism project has been drawing visitors wishing to find out what a day in an adivasi village looks like. Bordering Odisha, Pedalabudu village is home to two main tribes – the Konda Dora and Bagatha. The members of the tribes have formed the Pedalabudu Eco Tourism Society that runs the tourism project.
Though Giri Gram Darshini was conceptualised in 2019, it started attracting tourists only in the recent past. “Due to the pandemic, the project could not garner attention. Over the past three months, we are getting good response from tourists,” says K Saddu, one of local villagers and a part of the Pedalabudu Eco Tourism Society, and adds: “On average, we have nearly 100 visitors every day.”
In 2022, the ITDA Paderu received the State annual tourism award for Giri Grama Darshini for excellence in the category of best and unique tourism project.
Spread over six acres, Giri Grama Darshini comprises 10 tribal huts with thatched roof, hand-made terracotta floor tiles and ochre coloured walls, giving the rooms an earthy look. Each hut is marked for specific activities like men and women traditional dressing rooms, a ritual room which showcases the adivasi style of worshipping, paddy processing hut, millets processing hut, adda leaf (vistaraku) plates and bowl making room and a live kitchen where adivasi women demonstrate their way of cooking.
Apart from this, there are 14 cottages adjacent to the tribal huts where visitors can stay. These are constructed and decorated keeping in mind the essence of the homes in the village.
During their visit, tourists can try local attire and ornaments, cook and take part in their rituals. There is a separate section for pottery making and bamboo basket weaving where the craftsmen demonstrate and also assist visitors in trying their hands at it.
One of the most popular activities here are weddings. The concept, designed by ITDA Paderu, provides an opportunity for tourists to get married in the village. “Young couples can get married in the unique style; married couples too can celebrate their weddings here. We recently arranged two weddings for families who came here from Hyderabad and will be performing another one on January 28,” says Das Babu, a member of Pedalabudu Eco Tourism Society.
At the weddings, the bride and bridegroom are dressed up in local attire; along with friends, relatives and children. The hut is decorated with bamboo, flowers and leaves. A local tribal priest is engaged to perform the wedding as per adivasi traditions, which takes about three to four hours. The entire ritual is accompanied by tribal music. The wedding feast is also arranged as per the local style. The guests are entertained by women who perform Dhimsa dance around the marriage ceremony. After the ceremony, traditional food is served to the guests.
“It was a beautiful experience of being a part of a culture that reveres Nature and celebrates the coming together of two families in such a unique way,,” says K Lakshmi, who experienced the wedding with her husband K Mallesh. She adds, “I loved how the villagers made us feel like we were part of their family and celebrated our wedding like one of their own.”
Giri Grama Darshini is located seven kilometres from Araku. For details, check out www.girigramadarshini.com