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Nestling in a gentle valley surrounded by lush plantations, the spice villages of Karnataka are welcoming and peaceful but rarely visited by outsiders. Most of the farmers around Hulgol (near the town of Sirsi) have very small spice holdings, often not large enough to generate a regular income to feed their extended family and educate their children. Not wanting to leave their village homes, the local people were looking for ways to supplement their incomes and therefore welcomed the opportunity presented by Village Ways with open arms. With financial support, the villagers have formed the ‘Spice Route Cooperative Society’, and have built a guesthouse to accommodate visitors, entirely managed by the local community. Efforts are also being made to ensure that neighbouring hamlets, too, can benefit from the income of the guesthouse through guiding and other enterprises.
On the coast, the farmers and fishermen of the secluded village of Pavinakurva have also built a guesthouse for Village Ways guests, the income generated being a welcome supplement to the local economy. The guesthouse stands unobtrusively alongside the homes of the villagers, among the palm trees near the beach.
Forests teeming with life
The forests surrounding Hulgol are among the best-managed and most well-preserved areas of woodland in India. They not only provide the backbone for the region’s community and economy – being an important source of fruit, seeds, animal fodder, herbal medicines and fuel – but are also home to a remarkable number of plant and animal species, ranging from micro-organisms to elephants!