Last month I was asked to speak at The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event at The Indian Embassy in Iceland. The topic I was asked to speak on, was on tourism in India. I am no expert on the subject, but I do have both opinions as well as ideas on the matter.
I have traveled to India 3 times. First time I was there for only 3 weeks. I went there after scheduled tour of Nepal. I staid with a friend that I met trough the international mountaineering community and the first thing he did for me was to take me out of the city (Delhi) and into the mountains. There I experienced something that I wasn’t expecting, an image of India that I had no idea that existed, an image I had never seen promoted…ANYWHERE!
India is not exactly positively promoted in Iceland. It is in fact hardly promoted at all. The only picture Icelander get of India is trough the media and western movies and it is more often than not, a stereo typical, negative images of India. The images of poverty, dirt, pollution, noise, poor hygiene, crazy traffic and an ocean of people everywhere. I’m not saying that it isn’t also a true image of India, all I am saying that it isn’t the only image of India, that there is more too it. India is so wast in size and differs so in culture, climate and landscape, that there simply has to be more to it and I am here to tell you that there is!
What I saw during my first days in India, was yes that stereo typical image of India, but I also got to experience something that I never identified with India, a whole new side of India. I got to experience it’s wilderness, the untouched nature of the Himalayan mountain range, it’s forests, rivers and wild life. I got to stay with humble mountain villagers that lived simple life without any luxury of modern living and I got to gaze at the stars while cosying up to a fire outside our tent, with illuminated eyes of wild bears and leopards peering trough the darkness around us.
The second time I wen to India, I got to spend a whole month in the Himalayan Mountains, training mountaineering with the Indian Army at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. It was very though, the training was hard and the discipline was strict, not to mention that we had to carry 20 kg on our back in high altitude. But there again I got to experience a side of India no one every tells you about. This incredible untouched beauty of the Himalayan Mountain Range.
The difference in trekking on the Indian side of the Himalayas vs. the Nepalese side, is that it is much less commercial. In fact the adventure tourism in the Indian Himalayas, is no more than a decayed old and isn’t developing at high speed because that simply isn’t the Indian style. The people involved with this sort of adventure tourism in these areas, normally come from poor and humble background. They have never traveled much elsewhere and have little to compere it too. They simply know the mountains and the river very well and are more than willing to guide those few people that have discovers this gem in India and are interested in getting to know it better. The locals need someone to guide them in how to promote their tourism better and how to attract more tourist to these areas, because more people need to come and see this amazing part of India. The two winters I lived and I worked within the tourism industry in Rishikesh, I tried my best to share my knowledge on how market tourism and how to use social media as a tool to promote it world wide.
I would like, with this website, introduce Icelanders and the world to the Indian part of the Himalayas, particular the part that lies in Uttarakhand and what it has to offer in terms of culture, food, nature scenery and activities, now that I am forever attached to it and to Rishikesh. I will be traveling frequently there with my future husband Ravi, who is a mountain and river guide, born and bred in the mountains. Lucky me! 🙂
PS. I will have separate posts where I will talk more about the places seen in the photos featured in this post.