We all know that India is an agricultural country. This means that the majority of the population practices agriculture either for self-consumption or as a commercial activity. So there are more villages and small towns in India than in cities and metros. In fact, two-thirds of the Indian population still lives in rural areas as per the last census. The life of a villager and therefore the environment of a village are distinctly different than the urban environment we grow up in. Here in this post, I am going to discuss 15 exceptional Indian villages that you must visit once in your lifetime.
1. Kodinhi, Kerala- Village of twins
Kodinhi village of Kerala has a mysterious thing going on in the world. Here 220 sets of twins growing up, which is very astounding news in the world. The doctors in India are thinking to solve the puzzle of 220 plus twins born to 2,000 families in the village of Kodinhi in Kerala. Experts are researching this wonder of the uncommon phenomenon of twin births which is nearly six times more than the global average.
As per the population census, 60 pairs of twins were born in the past 5 years in Kodinhi village. The rate of twin birth increasing every year. It is expected in 2021 the new rate will break the previous record.
2. Shani Shingnapur, Maharashtra- Village without doors
Can you imagine village where homes have no front doors? This is the real story of Shani Shingnapur in India’s Maharashtra state. Here villagers feel secured due to their undying faith in Lord Shani, the god of Saturn. Shani is considered the guardian of the village.
This tradition has continued for generations. Locals occasionally put wooden or bamboo frames in the front door to keep stray dogs out – but they need no permanent doors, and leave their jewelry and money unsecured, firmly believing that their holy guardian will protect them from any calamity. Even the public toilets have a thin curtain at the entrance for privacy.
No complaint has been reported in the newly opened police station in this village due to no front door. New constructions have to honor these systems, too.
Because of this bizarre history, Shani Shingnapur attracts devotees from across India. Approximately 50000 devotees visit per year to pray in front of Shani deity.
3. Mawlynnong, Meghalaya- Asia’s Cleanest Village
Approximately 100km from Shillong there’s a magical ecstasy – Mawlynnong –a little village which won the status of being the cleanest village (2003), not just in India, but in Asia.
Not only is this village spotless clean but it’s one of the prettiest ones in the country. Cobbled streets bordered with thatched Khasi huts and gardens that are full of colorful flowers. Outside every house, there are bamboo baskets that they used as dustbins.
Alongside cleanliness, the village has achieved a lot- be it one 100% literacy rate, or a women empowerment scenario that the remainder of the planet can only dream of.
4. Deshnoke, Rajasthan- Temple of Rats
Karni Mata Temple is a Hindu temple devoted to Karni Mata at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner, in Rajasthan, India. It is also identified as the Temple of Rats.
The temple is well-known for the approximately 25,000 black rats that live, and are admired, in the temple. These holy rats are called kabbas. Many devotees throughout the year come here to pay respect, as well as curious tourists from around the world.
Eating food that has been chewed on by the rats is considered to be a “high honour”. If one of them is killed, it must be substituted with another one made of solid silver. Out of all of the thousands of rats within the temple, there are some white rats, which are considered to be especially holy.
5. Shetpal, Maharashtra- Village of snakes
In India, snakes have a connection with Hindu deity Shiva. Every year, on the Nag Panchami festival, thousands of people in Indian villages worship and feed the snakes to receive heavenly blessings.
Shetpal is a village in Maharashtra situated about 200 km from Pune in Sholapur district of Maharashtra. Each and every house has a cobra snake. Snakes are worshipped daily in every home in this village!
Shetpal is a village, where snakes have no constraint in their movement and none of the 2,600 plus villagers ever harms them in any way. In fact, cobras stay in every house as a member of the family.
6. Hiware Bazar, Maharashtra- Village of wealth
Hiware Bazar situated in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra was in the grips of poverty and drought some 30 years ago. But in the 1990s the fortune of the village changed, and it transformed into a wealthy village with nearly 60 millionaires, all of whom are farmers. The credit for this rags-to-riches success goes to Popatrao Baguji Pawar (the head of the village).
Here the per capita income increased from INR 830 per month back in 1995, to INR 30, 000 today, Hiware Bazar is making progress. Out of 1250 people, 60 are millionaires; this village. The village boasts busy markets, clean roads, lush green fields, and well-built houses that are rare in Indian villages.
7. Majuli, Assam- World’s largest River Island
Majuli is a river island in the river Brahmaputra, Assam. In 2016 it became the main island to be made a district in India. Majuli is presently listed as the world’s largest river island in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Majuli Island is accessible by ferries from the town of Jorhat. The island is about 300–400 kilometers east from the state’s largest city —Guwahati. It was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit. Majuli is the abode of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite people.
8. Punsari Gujarat- The model village
Punsari is situated at Sabarkantha district; some 90km from the Ahmedabad in Gujarat state. Punsari got the title of “model village” by the state which has “the amenities of a city but the spirit of a village”.
It has round-the-clock, uninterrupted water and electricity supplies – something that’s rare in many thousands of Indian villages. All homes in the village have toilets; there are two primary schools, a primary hospital, street lights, and a sewage system.
The entire village is wifi enabled, has CCTV cameras installed at strategic points and a public address system that covers the whole population with the assistance of about 140 loudspeakers installed all over the village.
9. Jambur, Gujarat- Mini Africa of India
In the village of Jambur near Gir forest in the heart of Gujarat, it had been indeed strange to encounter a community that was African in origin but Gujarati in speech. One can make the mistake he has arrived at Somalia or Mombasa.
The majority of the Afro-Indians presently sleep in the cities, towns, and villages of Gujarat and that they are an ethnically and culturally diverse group. They are denoted to as Sidis or Sidi Badshahs and most of the Afro-Indian communities are admirers of the Sufi saint Bava Gor.
While the contemporary Sidi population considers themselves as descendants of Bava Gor, scholars argue that the Sidi communities in Gujarat came to India during a later period of the slave trade, operated by Europeans, Arabs, and Gujarati merchant. In the case of Gujarat, not all Africans were slaves; a number of them were employed by the local rulers as agricultural laborers, tax collectors, administrators, soldiers, and domestic servants, while others worked in the commercial ports of Gujarat.
10. Dharnai, Bihar- The first fully solar-powered village in India
Dharnai is a small village with 2400 people. Situated near Bodh Gaya in Bihar’s Jehanabad district, it didn’t have access to electricity. But a couple of years ago, the villagers took things in their own hands and altered their fate forever. With the support of Greenpeace, the village installed a solar-powered micro-grid, which provides 24×7 electricity to quite 450 households and 50 commercial establishments. The entire project cost them three crores, making Dharnai India’s first fully solar-powered village.
11. Odanthurai, Tamil Nadu-Village with surplus energy
Odanthurai, a panchayat in Mettupalayam Taluk is understood for becoming self-sufficient in electricity generation. It has its own windmill of 350-kilowatt capacity. Interestingly, it is selling nearly 2 lakh units of electricity out of 6.75 lakh units that were generated to the TNEB and is making revenue of more than Rs 20 lakh a year.
Under the “Green House” scheme of the State government, more than 850 houses were built and handed over to the beneficiaries in the place. It is said to be the highest in the State.
Having already won international acclaim through its unique welfare schemes and energy self-sufficiency drives, Odanthurai has begun efforts to develop a corpus of Rs 5 crore to put in the wind and solar energy farms. This project will enable a free supply of electricity to over 8,000 residents.
12. Kuldhara, Rajasthan- The haunted village
Kuldhara, situated 20 kilometers to the west of the desert town of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Kuldhara stands deserted and a weird silence prevails all around. 200 years ago the villagers abandoned that village.
Once Kuldhara was home to the Paliwal Brahmins. It had been during this point that Salim Singh, the Diwan of Jaisalmer, known for his wickedness and unprincipled tax-collecting methods, set his eyes on the gorgeous daughter of the village chief. The Diwan was absolutely hell-bent having the girl and he told the villagers if they came in his way he would levy huge taxes on them.
Fearing the anger of the Diwan, the residents of the whole village fled one dark night, leaving their homes and everything within them. Kuldhara was abandoned by its very own people. Nobody saw the thousand-odd members of the village leave. For generations now, nobody knows where the Paliwals have resettled. All that’s known is that they cursed the town once they left – that nobody would ever be ready to calm down in Kuldhara again.
13. Kokrebellur, Karnataka- Village of rare birds
Kokrebellur, a little village in Maddur taluk of Karnataka, offers you an unusual and hypnotic sight as you’ll find a number of India’s rarest species of birds chirping within the lawns of those village homes. Named after the Painted Storks, which are called Kokkare in Kannada, this small village (which isn’t a reserved bird sanctuary) has set an example of how birds and humans can co-exist in complete harmony. The villagers treat these birds as a neighborhood of their family and have also created a little area for wounded birds to rest. Birds are so friendly here that they even allow you to travel very near to them.
14. Mattur, Karnataka- the Vedic village in India
Located at Shimoga district of Karnataka, Mattur may be a tiny hamlet on the banks of the perennial river Tunga. The villagers of Mattur, who lead a Vedic lifestyle, chant the traditional texts and converse in Sanskrit.
The Vedic culture started in 1981 when Sanskrita Bharati, an organization that promotes the classical language, conducted a 10-day Sanskrit workshop in Mattur.
Mattur is known nowadays as a ‘Sanskrit village’. Sanskrit became the first language of the village. Mattur is inhabited by the Sankethis, an ancient Brahmin community that had migrated from Kerala and settled down in Mattur about 600 years ago. Aside from Sanskrit, they also speak a rare dialect called Sankethi, which may be a mixture of Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, and bits of Telugu. The Sankethi dialect has no written script and is read within the Devanagari.
15. Barwaan Kala, Bihar- Village of bachelors
For over 50 years, Barwan Kala has been an inaccessible corner, abreast of the Kaimur hills within the westernmost a part of Bihar. It’s not witnessed any band, baaja or baraat (marriage ceremony). Relatives of prospective brides who managed to form it to the village retreated hurriedly, preferring to offer their daughters in marriage elsewhere. This left about 121 villagers — of all ages, bachelors. Those that were lucky enough had to travel down Capitol Hill, take temporary shelter during a relative’s house, or in some guest house to urge married. Over time, the village of over 6,000 people and 400 households earned the title of ‘village of bachelors’ with the very best number of unmarried men in any Bihar village.
For long, the village had no road, electricity, water, or mobile network and no primary health centre. The closest police headquarters is 45 km away. The ladies fetch water from a well nearly 1.5 km away, as all 12 hand pumps have gone dry.
In January 2008, the villagers assembled with chisels, shovels, hammers, spades and other tools. While one group shoved big stone boulders aside, another hammered them into pieces to get the road. 7 years later, in April 2015, they celebrated the development of 6 km of the road which reduced the circuitous route of 40 km to the block headquarters to only eight km. Tractors, Jeeps and motorcycles started plying.
India is the land of villages. India comprises quite 6 lakh villages each with a singular identity. Once you visit these villages you get to understand the true roots of the country. Visiting a village may sound sort of a rustic affair but therein lays truth essence of India. The vast span of India’s landscape in these rural settings will surely leave you awe-inspired. I even have compiled an inventory of 15 beautiful villages that you simply can visit once in your lifetime. If you would like to feature more, please mention in the comment section below.