NIIKHIL BALLAL & JUILI KULKARNI
“Once a year, go some place you have never been before”, quoted the Dalai Lama. Should you like to follow the Lama’s advice, Isha Tours is standing right up there to take you to some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Mr. Atmaram Parab, an avid and passionate traveler from Thane started his own travel company by the name of Isha Tours in 2003. Without any formal education in travel and tourism, Mr. Parab gave up his steady job in the Indian Customs department and decided to follow his passion. Prior to this, the travel freak led innumerable mountaineering and trekking expeditions to Sahyadris and Himalayas, which gave him enough confidence to start Isha Tours.
Isha Tours has become synonymous with Ladakh with more than a dozen group departures to Ladakh every year besides a multitude of tourists that go on a customized basis. Mr. Parab, himself has travelled more than 140 times and Ladakh is unarguably his favourite destination. While speaking to Mr. Parab, his passion about traveling was oozing out of every word. “I always approach a tour as a tourist and put myself in their shoes. Probably that is what helps me plan a tour well”, affirmed Mr. Parab. Just like him, his team is phenomenally passionate about travelling.
Isha Tours’ tagline states – “Let’s explore the new world”. Abiding by the same, Mr. Atmaram and co. has crafted their tour packages for their exclusive customers filled with wanderlust. One such tour is that to the amazing land of Kenya. “Kenya is not just about watching animals but the sheer number and variety in which they are found. Did you know, there are about 120 types of Antelopes in Africa? What we know only as a deer has so many other alternatives and Kenya- Tanzania showcases them all. I love showing this aspect to people, a totally different view point” described Mr. Atmaram.
Another interesting tour is to the Scandinavian countries especially to view the Northern lights! Where most people discuss the cold in the region, Mr. Parab passionately talks about how the land converts into a truly fairytale place with twinkling Xmas lights , a visit to the famous Santa Claus village to meet Father Santa himself, the super exciting Snow mobile ride and Reindeer sledding and ofcourse Nature’s very own Magic – the Amazing Northern Lights.
Closer home, talking about Rann of Kutch, the innovative tour operator added, “We do not show the usual places in this tour. We take the tourists to something that they would have never imagined; an old dead river. It is a river bed with no water but is made of lava rocks. There are over 500 patterns spread across five kilometers, and the river is nothing less than a splendid exhibition of colourful rock patterns”. Many people go to Japan to see the Cherry blossom but there is a much more beautiful Apricot blossom in India in the Ladakh region that is a pleasure to watch especially since the pale pink flowers look amazing against the clear blue skies and stark brown mountains. In addition, there are a range of wildlife and adventurous tours on offer. Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, Kinnaur and Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh are the other popular destinations among the customers.
Mr. Parab was and is never bothered with sales turnover, instead he strives to achieve maximum satisfaction turnover. “We always try to offer something unique to our customers. Even our tours to Bali and Sri Lanka which are otherwise common destinations offer atleast one place that is different and not a part of other Operator’s itinerary. We have many repeat customers, which confirms that the people are happy with the exciting experiences that we provide”, said Mr. Parab.
Unlike the typical tour leaders who are bogged down by umpteen number of consecutive tours, the tour leaders at Isha Tours are privileged to take a break of at least 8-10 days after 1-1 ½ month of touring. “It is important that the tour leaders are fresh mentally. I believe that if the tour leaders are tired then their enthusiasm and performance are adversely affected on the tour”, stated the travel enthusiast.
One of the stellar features of holidaying with Isha Tours is that you could be one of the lucky ones to get a chance to become an assistant to a tour leader. “During the tour, we observe people and if we feel that a particular person is friendly, passionate about traveling, and has the essential prerequisites to lead a tour, then we ask him /her if they would like to voluntarily join us”, described the owner of Isha Tours. There are quite a few people who have willingly grabbed this opportunity with both hands and have gone on tour as an assistant. Such newbies not only bring their passion but also a lot of enthusiasm to the tour.
Over the last 15 years, Isha Tours has been the source of happiness to more than 30000 people who have enjoyed travelling with Mr. Atmaram Parab and his colleagues. “Rather be innovative and carve your own path than follow the footsteps of the established tour operators to be successful in this business”, stated the Passionpreneur. Indisputably, Isha Tours, an amalgamation of passion and innovation is the answer to all those who are seeking to see the unseen, discover the undiscovered and explore the unexplored; a whole new world.