Rafi is a prominent member of the Gujjar tribe in Himachal Pradesh. The Gujjars, originally a pastoral nomadic tribe, have settled down in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Kashmir. The word Gujjar comes from the term “Gaucharana” which means to graze cows. Their lifestyle resorts heavily on cows and buffalos as traditionally they were pastoralists, but now most of them have shifted to agriculture and animal husbandry.
Rafi’s life before NotOnMap:
Rafi lives with 14 family members in a 100-year-old typical Himachali mud-house that has been in their family for 4 generations and has seen a lot of wear and tear. The structure of the house is ancient and traditional, with walls plastered with mud and cow-dung, a family kitchen where everyone eats their meals together, and spacious rooms with beautiful views. When we first met Rafi’ he had no understanding of the tourism business and did not know the goldmine that he was sitting on. His place is a beautiful walk from Chamba, where you have to cross a flowing river and pass little children playing on the sprawling grounds.
Rafi’s life after NotOnMap:
Rafi's home was our first homestay in Chamba and the collaboration was a huge success! NotonMap introduced Rafi to the concept of homestays and set forth redesigning and decorating the rooms. He had enough space to spare for a private cottage and a dormitory. We introduced him to various ideas through which he could preserve and remodel his house into a homestay and he introduced us to his life, the various local cultures, cuisines and stories.
Rafi’s house is rated 9 out of 10 on Booking.com and his homestay is now a popular spot for tourists visiting Chamba. He plans to rework and rebuild parts of his stay and expand his homestay business further. He loves having guests over at his house and sharing a cup of chai and stories with them. He wants to welcome more people into his warm home and make space for more visitors to stay at the same time. He loves showing his guests around the village and introducing them to the local community and culture.
Not only has Rafi prospered and progressed with NotOnMap, but his neighborhood and village have also started cultivating progressive ideas. Local people have started taking the initiative and organizing activities like Cleaning drive with more than 40 children during summer holidays. Our new initiatives like NotOnMart have also helped 50 Gujjar families who were not able to establish their own homestays. They are now engaged in making the traditional ‘Chakla’ for after every corn season as an alternate livelihood source.
NotOnMap has grown a lot since our first homestay with Rafi and working with him has been a great learning and growing experience for us. We now have more than 500 properties registered on are site and are glad that we could provide Rafi with a better life and a steady income and help him take care of his family.