Ayodhya, Jan 22: Homestays, providing a glimpse of local culture at an affordable price, have emerged as a practical choice for attendees from across the country converging in Ayodhya for the Monday consecration ceremony. In addition to a comfortable stay, visitors are relishing home-cooked Awadhi cuisine.
The city's 30 hotels were fully booked well in advance, and neighboring areas like Lucknow, Barabanki, Gonda, Basti, Gorakhpur, and Ambedkar Nagar faced a similar situation. With around 8,000 people invited by the Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust and local mutts extending invitations to seers and saints from various states, Ayodhya is teeming with pilgrims.
Ayodhya Development Authority officer Rakesh Singh noted the scarcity of space for visitors to unwind after a long journey. To address this challenge, the concept of homestays was encouraged. The Ayodhya residents were urged to launch homestay projects, both as a source of additional income and to preserve their historic houses.
Despite initial reluctance, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's appeal encouraged people, resulting in the inauguration of 51 homestays and 600 paying-guest facilities on January 17. By the eve of the consecration ceremony, all these facilities were fully occupied.
Neera Yadav, a native of Ayodhya running a homestay, shared her success story, stating that her house had become a hub for tourists from Kerala, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. Abhinav Srivastava, who converted his ancestral house into a homestay, reported high demand, even attracting prominent guests like the top diamond merchant of Gujarat, Govind Bhai Dholakia.
Residents like Sudha Maurya expressed how the introduction of homestays had significantly boosted their family income, with guests booking rooms for extended periods and requesting local culinary delights. Sunil Razdan from Jammu plans to launch container home facilities in Ayodhya, anticipating increased demand after the inauguration of the Ram temple.
To facilitate coordination, all homestays and paying guest facilities have been linked to the Divya Ayodhya App launched by the chief minister. In anticipation of continued tourist influx, the administration is considering the establishment of three community kitchens on a public-private partnership model in the city.