July 20, 2022
It was a momentous day for 41 tribals near Coimbatore’s Isha Yoga Center as they went for their first-ever plane ride from Coimbatore to Chennai on July 20. Supported by Isha Outreach, the tribals from the villages of Madakadu, Mullankadu, Pattiyar Koil Pathiand Dhanikandi, became the first generation to fly in a plane.
As Vellachiamma, a tribal from Madakkad village, who sells coconuts near Adiyogi, deboarded her Indigo flight from Coimbatore to Chennai, her excitement knew no bounds. “We’ve only seen aeroplanes in TV and movies. So to now to fly in one is an amazing experience for me!”
“My wife has always wanted to fly, and we were saving up for a flight to Tirupati,” says Murthy, another tribal from Madakkad village. “But a Swami from Isha Outreach told us they were coordinating a group flight to Chennai. I was chasing up on a daily basis,” he adds with a grin. “I’m happy that my wife’s dream has come true.”
Interestingly, all these tribals are forest-dwellers-turned-entrepreneurs. Their lives transformed by when the Adiyogi was unveiled in 2017. With the influx of tourists, the need for shopping, food and beverage was quickly established, and the tribals rose to the occasion.
With the backing and support from Isha Outreach, and the diligent hand-holding by Isha monks and volunteers, they were soon adept in all aspects of running stalls, shops, supplies and logistics.
The initial burst of visitors to Adiyogi brought the tribal entrepreneurs economic sef-sufficiency.
Indigo airlines, mindful of this historic first flight, rolled out the red carpet for this group. The tribals were greeted with a large banner at the Coimbatore Airport, congratulating them on their first flight. On boarding 6E-238 – the flight taking them to Chennai – a special treat of snacks and beverages was served to the first-time fliers, with the Pilot introducing the group over the speaker, and thanking them for choosing Indigo airlines.
As this group of 41 Tribals head out into Chennai, a host of surprise awaits them; including one involving an exchange of pleasantries over a cup of tea with a few celebrities from Kollywood!
“This is only the beginning,” says Surya Kumar of Dhanikandi village, one of the tribals. “Adiyogi will attract more and more tourists with every passing year. Next year, there will be 100 villagers who will get onto an aeroplane. It’s on everybody’s wishlist.”