Mel Jol Echo Lodge – Rural Tourism

Mel Jol Eco Lodge (formerly known as Mukti Ashram) is located at Manpur-Panarwa, approximately 14km away from Kolyari, 30km from Jhadol, 80km from Udaipur and 120km from Mount Abu. The lodge is situated on the bank of the Wakal River and houses a small-scale rural tourism programme. This programme enables tourists to experience life in rural Rajasthan, interacting with local people and the region�s tribal culture. Visitors stay in simple but comfortable rooms furnished to a good standard. During their time at the lodge, they have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities, including hikes, bird and wildlife watching, classes in traditional cooking, music, dancing, and village life, providing information on agricultural practices, animal husbandry, medicinal plants, marriage ceremonies and construction of mud houses. MSS has developed close contacts with many local experts, who are able to provide a wide variety of cultural programmes and puppet shows. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit MSS�s various project sites in the local area, particularly the Mahan STEP Academy, a small school situated within the lodge�s campus. As such, the lodge is able to both provide a fantastic tourist experience and to really help visitors to these communities to understand the local culture and practices, and the issues that they face.

The lodge contains a total of four double bedrooms, one with a private bathroom and the other three sharing bathroom facilities. Stays can be arranged for both groups and individuals, and both domestic and international tourists. The lodge contains catering facilities and traditional Rajasthani meals will be prepared throughout the visitors stay. All transportation can be organised by MSS, including pickup from Udaipur airport, railway station or bus station.

The lodge is also located nearby several other tourism spots, including Phulwari Ki Nal, a local wildlife sanctuary that includes leopards, hyena, antelope, flying squirrel and over 120 species of birds. Just below the lodge is Bhilari Mata Temple, a small Hindu temple, and around 15km away, outside the village of Tindori, is a forest of Mahua trees. Finally, the Wakal River provides a perfect spot to paddle and bathe. Basic amenities are available in nearby Manpur and Panarwa villages, including a Punjab National Bank, Primary Healthcare Centre and Police Station.

The lodge�s location makes it a great base for exploring Southern Rajasthan, which includes some of India�s most beautiful and most popular tourist destinations. The beautiful lake city of Udaipur in particular is worth a visit. Sitting on the banks of Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar, the city is often known as the most romantic city in India and the �Venice of the East�. Some of the city�s biggest attractions include the City Palace, Lake Palace and Monsoon Palace, along with temples such as Jagdish Mandir, gardens like Saheliyon-ki-Bari and memorials such as Moti Magri.

There are many famous temples in the area surrounding Udaipur, including the Hindu temples of Eklingji and Shrinathji, along with the Jain temples of Ranakpur and Rishabhadeoji. Other sites of interest include Jaisamand Lake, Asia�s second-largest artificial lake, and the forts of Kumbhalgarh and Chittorgarh.

Though the rural tourism programme is relatively new, MSS has already hosted several groups and is planning on significantly increasing the scale of the programme in the coming months. More information can be provided by emailing mahanseva@gmail.com.