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Wayanad Collector Inaugurates India’s First Tribal Heritage Village In Kerala, Brings Jobs & Moolah

Wayanad district of Kerala has come up with India’s first tribal heritage village stay ‘En Ooru’. It is aimed at providing employment to the tribal communities of the district. The place is already seeing good tourist footfall and is expecting to increase the numbers in the coming years.

The Wayanad district of Kerala recently inaugurated India’s first-ever tribal heritage village stay called ‘En Ooru’. While the foundation of the project was laid down in 2012 by IAS officer Prasanth Nair, the then Sub Collector of the region, the place has finally opened for tourists after a hiatus of a decade, by District Collector of Wayanad, IAS officer Geetha A.

Indian Masterminds spoke with Ms. Geetha and Sub Collector, Ms. R Sreelakshmi, to know more about the heritage stay and how it provides employment to the tribals of Wayanad.

ABOUT ‘EN OORU’

The distinctive tribal heritage hamlet of En Ooru, which is located in Pookode, Wayanad, and was built on 25 acres of land owned by the Mananthavady Tea Plantation Corporation (Priyadarshini), exhibits the rich customs and cultures of tribal people. It is a reliable and unique source of income for them. The centre’s major goal is to provide visitors with a chance to come close to the history and culture of the tribal people.

The place has two cafeterias that serve traditional tribal delicacies. Along with this, the place also has an expanded market established to enable local tribals to sell their agricultural produce and artwork to tourists. It provides a direct marketing facility for tribal indigenous items.

“On top of it, we also have an open-air theatre where the tribal communities gather and perform their native art forms including singing, dancing, and also acting,” she said.

Open air theater of En Ooru

TRIBAL INTERPRETATION CENTERS

The main attraction of ‘En Ooru’ is the Tribal Interpretation Center where one can witness the exact replica of the original tribal colonies and their architecture, which is not easy to find these days.

“Almost all tribal families have now migrated to concrete flats provided by the government. That is why there are hardly any authentic kutcha houses left through which people could get a glimpse of their life and how they lived. Therefore, these replicas have been constructed for the new generation to be able to witness their style and way of living,” she told Indian Masterminds.

Tribal hut replicas

Tribal huts, comfort stations, an art museum, a walkway, art centres and stalls displaying tribal handicrafts, forest produce, bamboo handicrafts, tribal medicines, traditional tribal weapons, musical instruments and a children’s park with natural and traditional toys are some of the other attractions provided by the heritage stay.

“The area is extremely picturesque and tourists can plan a day to come, explore, eat, shop, and go away with wonderful memories.”

BOOSTING TOURISM IN KERALA

Wayanad Tourism has been an integral part of Kerala Tourism owing to its picturesque locations and beautiful tourist attractions. Visitors usually travel to Wayanad to watch and experience wildlife and several other manmade attractions.

“Wayanad is the most populated tribal district in Kerala which is the reason why En Ooru has been established here. The district is already popular on the tourist map of India thus garnering a lot of tourist footfall. Now the people who come to visit the region, are also coming forth to experience En Ooru and tribal lives, which automatically gives a boost to Kerala tourism,” stated the officer.

CREATING LIVELIHOOD

The ‘En Ooru’ project is essentially a livelihood initiative designed with the tribal communities and residents of Wayanad in mind, intending to give them employment opportunities. The heritage stay is providing both, direct and indirect employment, to the tribals of the region.

The place has provided a platform to the people where they can sell their manufactured items, art pieces, handicrafts, etc. to the tourists and earn their livelihood. They now have a permanent marketplace to sell from and the indigenous artists can finally earn their worth through this.

The heritage hamlet also provides a suitable setting for teaching organic agricultural techniques and passing on traditional knowledge about food processing and other relevant topics. Additionally, there are plans to sell ethnic goods under the ‘En Ooru’ label.

SUCCESS OF THE PLACE

After being in work for almost a decade, ‘En Ooru’ was finally opened to the public and beneficiaries on 4th June 2022 and over 1 lakh people have already visited the place to experience nature and its beauty. The project is seeing close to 6,000 visitors on the weekends, and about 2,000 on the weekdays.

The tourism development department of Wayanad is trying to add to the beneficiaries’ numbers, day by day. This lifestyle and social development project is essentially supporting the tribal communities and uplifting them.

The place witnesses a good footfall every week

Gradually, the department is looking forward to involving more beneficiaries in the project and they believe that they will be able to gain even more success in the coming years.

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