May 21, 2024

Tradition or tourism? The Tharu huts in Dudhwa National Park

Lakhimpur Kheri district, Uttar Pradesh
2 min read

The Tharu Adivasis in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district traditionally resided in huts with roofs made of foos (grass straws) and walls built by mixing tree stems with mud. These natural construction materials, which we sourced from the forest, kept our houses cool during the summers. The forest provided us with resources to build our houses and in return we protected it.

However, our access to the forests has been restricted by the forest department since 1977, when Dudhwa National Park was established. This has changed our housing architecture in a significant way. Due to the lack of access to grass, we now use tin to build the roofs of our huts.

Further, to attract tourists to the national park, the department has built modern cottages that they are calling Tharu huts. City dwellers come to stay in these cottages because they want to experience the Tharu culture.

The department’s office inside the park showcases information about the Tharu people, including our culture and traditional attire. However, the restrictions placed upon us prevent us from living our traditional way of life. Although it is our culture that draws in the tourists, we don’t receive a share of the generated income.

Sahvaniya Rana is the general secretary of the Tharu Tribal Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch.

Know more: Read more about how climate change is resulting in farming challenges for the Tharu Adivasis.