Explore the unexplored facade of Ranthambore community conservation efforts

Artisan showing handcrafted textile printed work

#hiddengemsofIndia – In our this week’s featured story we would like to highlight the social initiatives of an inspiring lady who is tirelessly committed to bring change to the real rural India which enables sustainable tourism through handcrafted art and textile products. We had an opportunity to interact with her and know about her organisation. Here are the excerpts from our interview with the stalwart Divya Khandal from Dhonk

Divya khandal and team

How would you define your organisation?

Our organisation is Dhonk which run a craft-based center with the objective of providing alternative employment opportunities to the tiger’s neighbours around the Ranthambhore park and at the same time preserving and presenting local arts and crafts to the tiger tourists who can enjoy a very unique local experience in Ranthambhore!

Artisan displaying handmade bed sheet in ranthambore
Bird made handcrafted weaved textile

What is so unique and inspiration behind this tale?

We are the only ones who are working with ex-poachers families and local community women primarily. The need was felt when Ranthambhore went through a major tiger poaching crisis in 2006, and our partner NGO Tiger Watch got 70 poachers arrested. The only reason being they did not have and alternative means to survive.

In spite of such flourishing tourism trade, nobody spoke about alternative employment opportunities for locals, so Dhonk began with the mission and strongly works towards it. We provide skill training at our craft studio and also are absorbing the trainees if they are interested.

ladies showcasing hand crafted weaving work

What does your organisation do?

Divya represents, “Dhonk” which is a social enterprise’ working in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. We run a craft-based center with the objective of providing alternative employment opportunities to the tiger’s neighbours around the Ranthambhore park and at the same time preserving and presenting local arts and crafts to the tiger tourists who can enjoy a very unique local experience in Ranthambhore!

Elephant printed hand made bed sheet at Ranthambore

What is the core value of your organisation?

Bridging the gap between the Local Community and the Tiger tourists. Dhonk is trying to make a win-win situation for everyone so that there can be synergistic relationships between tiger, tigers neighbors and Tiger’s tourists. It’s one of a kind Social enterprise’ in Ranthambhore surviving for a decade.

creating sustainable tourism textile

What is the best feedback you have got from any of your visitors?

Excerpts “I have been to Dhonk several times over the years. Each time they have innovated and expanded. Divya’s concept and leadership steer this place, but it’s the effort of her nari-sena which drives the success.

Not only are they excellent artisans (with innovation in the types of products), but Divya has instilled a sense of ownership in these ladies. The food at the cafe is fresh, simplistic and very tasty. Coffee is fantastic as well. The model of the social startup is amazing and all should support the wonderful venture. Best wishes, Subhro” 

hand printing textile on bed sheet

What is your motto?

Quality over everything, and treating every guest as a respected family member with smiles and warmth!

rewarding artisan of rural Ranthambore textile artisan

What qualities do you seek in your visitors?

We don’t seek mass visitors coming but guests who understand the importance of projects like Dhonk and are looking for unique experiences and also guests who appreciate the quality craftsmanship.

Lady wearing ranthambore textile hand crafted product

What keeps you going?

The smile on my team’s face and their trust in me makes me keep going.

Ranthambore textile hand craft artisan

What is the most unique element in your offering?

Experiencing hands-on block printing, toy making and quality finished textile products. Also sampling local dishes in our all women-run Dhonk cafe.

Ranthambore tiger printed hand made textile art
hand printing textile printing die

Divya has won heart’s of many by working hard on sustainable tourism and creating a local employment opportunity primary for women. In Rajasthan you can also explore our wildlife series. 

You can follow Divya on Instagram @dhonk_sustainable_textiles. Please like her profile and support her in the mission of creating artisan and smiles. 

School kids participating Ranthambore tiger conservation
Rural Ranthambore artisan making handi craft
hand made bag textile

Some of Divya's handcrafted product to explore

Handmade textile from Ranthambore visitor wearing
handmade textile at Ranthambore visitor
lady gown hand printed textile from Ranthambore