Four months after its launch, a tourism programme which offers an opportunity to experience the Gandhian way of life at one of the first ashrams set up by the Mahatma in the country has failed to take off.
`Live Gandhi For A While’ programme, conceived and developed by travel agent Nischal Barot and launched on October 2 last year, is offered at Kochrab ashram near here.
Barot, who has dubbed it as `responsible tourism’, said, “There have been no takers for the responsible tourism campaign so far. (But) we have received close to 100 inquiries in all, from Brazil, UK, U.S., Sri Lanka and from many parts of the country.”
The participants are expected to live in the ashram in an austere way, for a minimum of five days, like a true Gandhi ashram inmate: wearing the hand-spun cloth, doing physical labour, practising truth, chastity, non-violence, etc.
Barot said there were several telephonic and online inquiries, but they were yet to translate into bookings. He expressed hope of receiving bookings by May. He said Gandhi practised “responsible tourism”, as against today’s destination-based tourism, driven by commercial interests.
“We believe Mahatma Gandhi was probably the first responsible traveller who travelled across the country, connected with communities, walked down villages, stayed in their homes, tried helping them, solving their problems with minimal impact on the environment,” Barot said.
“The objective is to allow people find various ways of sustainable lifestyle, enjoy simplicity of Gandhi, experience the virtues of the Mahatma,” Barot said.
The Kochrab ashram was established by Gandhi after he returned from South Africa in 1915. Now it is in the care of Gujarat Vidyapith, the university established by Gandhi himself.
Barot also said that he had approached Gujarat Tourism for promotion of his responsible tourism campaign. “There has been no response so far. We will now approach the Centre with a proposal seeking support,” he said.