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India’s Tourism Ministry’s ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ webinar series on June 11, 2020 reached its 31st session showcasing “Himachal- Around the next bend,” focusing on the villages, mountains, pristine rivers, culture and heritage. Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series is an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme.
The session of the Dekho Apna Desh webinar series on June 11 was moderated by Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism. The session was presented by Frank Schlichtmann, Founder, The 4tables Project, Ankit Sood, Managing Host, Sunshine Himalayan Adventures and Michael & Devanshe Lidgley, Owners, Himalayan Orchard. The three presenters virtualised and highlighted the unexplored destinations and unique cultural and heritage wealth of Himachal Pradesh.
Mr. Schlichtmann started the session by highlighting an interesting Art village called Gunehar, a beautiful amalgamation of nature, streams and forest. Gunehar is located in the Kangra district.

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The idea behind this art project in Gunehar is to develop conscious effort among the travellers to put focus on the village without affecting the place with too much crowding. Gunehar is well-connected by road, rail and air.
The valley has many small villages and Gunehar is the largest panchayat with just 3,000 people. People are largely Gaddis with a few Bara Bhangalis. The settlement started a little over 100 years ago.
Originally, the people of the village are shepherds but now many of them are farmers, some have shops and some work. Villagers are grounded, have sense of dignity and knowledgeable. The 4 tables project started in 2008 with good participation, followed by an Art festival in 2013.
Art shops were developed, inviting artists to come and work in empty spaces and present their art work and the festival was attended by people from all walks of life. The event is a joint venture with the artist, visitors and villagers. It has become a huge success and final week is organised as art festival with theatre, music and film screening. Local cultural elements are well represented towards the closing ceremony of the Art festival.
Mr. Sood took the attendees virtually through the World Heritage Site Great Himalayan National Park located in the Kullu region. The Great Himalayan National Park is spread across four valleys – Sainj valley, Jiwa Nal valley, Tirthan Valley and Parvati valley. The park protects over 1,000 plant species, including many medicinal herbs, 31 mammal species and 209 bird species, as well as amphibians, reptiles and insects. Four of GHNP’s mammal species and three of its bird species are globally threatened, including the musk deer and the western horned tragopan.
The third little known destination in Himachal Pradesh showcased by Michael and Devanshe Lidgley was Kotkhai, a town in Shimla district. The Kotkhai Palace is 800 years old and the royal family still resides in the palace. A three hour hike from Rukhla village – an apple growing village takes one to the highest point where you can have a 360 degree view of Greater Himalayas.

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The village is known for its majestic flora and fauna, including Black Bear, Barking Deer, Musk Deer, Langur, Leopards and Monal.
The Dekho Apna Desh Webinars are conducted in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD) created by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY).
The sessions of webinars are now available on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbzIbBmMvtvH7d6Zo_ZEHDA/featured and also on all social media handles of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
The next episode of the webinar scheduled on, June 13, 2020 at 11.00 am, is titled Trekking in the Himalayas – Magical Experiences. One can register here https://bit.ly/HimalayasDAD