Mountains tend to bring the best and the worst out of you. Hiking and exploring mountains on their own is a dream of every trekker. This is what Indiahikes is trying to achieve. Perhaps, getting lost in the wilderness is the easiest way to know yourself.
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What do you do when you have trekked mountains and seen the nature both at its best and worst? You start documenting it, so that trek-enthusiast can use these trails to experience and explore. This is what Indiahikes was started for.
Arjun Majumdar, CEO and Founding Partner of Indiahikes has been trekking since he was 8 years old. In his own words he narrates the story of his young days,
My father worked for State Bank of India. He would inspect branches in remote areas of Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal, Uttarakhand. This gave us a chance to tag along with him and explore these mountains on foot.
By the time he was in his mid 20’s, he was exploring and scouting high altitude treks all on his own. On these treks, he would invite his friends who would bring their friends making it an average group of 10 people on every trek.
Birth of Indiahikes
Trekking in the 90’s wasn’t easy. You had to arrange and carry (or make arrangements of porters) by yourselves. Right from tents, sleeping bags to vessels and rations. At times, you might have to rent out some of these supplies too. Recounting one of his experiences, Arjun shares,
Rented gears meant they were never in great condition. Sleeping bags were always thin, insect infested and smelt horrible.
Communication was another major hurdle that made trekking, then, so difficult. Sketchy information on treks didn’t help much either. The only people who can help with the route were the simple village folks. To contact them, inland letters had to be written, for whose reply one had to wait for months. The address would usually be their name followed by the name of the village! And only if you were lucky, a call would come from them after a month!
Even after getting the information from the mountain folks, the routes would be confusing. The distances would vary by hours. The campsites would change. Nothing was certain. But the experiences gained through these treks were priceless, says Arjun
It was tricky to organize treks within certain cost. But repeating the above process and trekking across the country, Arjun realized 2 things :
- Information about treks had to be easily accessible by people.
- Trekking had to be conducted differently with more efficient systems and safety in place.
That was when Arjun started Indiahikes.
Indiahikes is changing trekking in India
Indiahikes is primarily a trek documentation organization. They explore, write and document treks. They do this in great detail so that everyone can organize their own treks. According to Arjun, ideally, no one must need an organization like Indiahikes to take them on treks. This is the core problem that Indiahikes solves.
Indiahikes brought in a change in our country. For the first time trek information started being available to people. Today, their website is the largest information database for trekking in India. Thousands of people trek on their own by using the information from the website. Not just in the Himalayas but across the country.
Only reason anyone must trek with Indiahikes is for the opportunity to meet like-minded people, is what they feel. Indiahikes is now India’s largest trekking organisation. Solving the problems of trekking has brought tremendous difference to the world of trekking.
How is trekking with Indiahikes different?
The systems that were introduced by Indiahikes are now the industry norm. Treks in India are conducted by trained trek leaders (TL). With Indiahikes a trek goes with a TL, guide and sweeper. Their safety systems includes radio, microspikes, oxygen cylinders that go on all treks.
People who are looking for alternate holidays, especially adventure, can hike with them by registering on their website for the trek. On asking more about the hikers, Arjun shared,
Demographically, hikers with us are usually the youths, between 21 and 35. Men and women are a mix of 70:30. Most of them are from urban towns, usually the metro cities. They rarely come single. They are usually with friends or a partner.
Indiahikes has opened up new trekking trails for the explorers
Indiahikes has explored and opened new trekking routes that were not frequented earlier. New treks have been made, for example, winter trekking. Kedarkantha was never a winter trek. According to Indiahikes last year over 500 people went on a winter trek. Across the country Indiahikes, continues to bring out new trekking trails. Other organisations follow Indiahikes onto these trails helping grow the market.
Indiahikes wants to increase the number of trekkers in India. Compared to the global world the number of trekkers in India are not very large. There is a very large potential to scale up on the number of people trekking with us, is what Arjun feels.
Arjun considers Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) and Trek the Himalayas as their major competitors. Both YHAI and Trek the Himalayas organizes high altitude trek throughout the year.
The team is led by business partners Arjun Majumdar and Sandhya Chandrasekharayya (UC).
Sandhya is possibly the most experienced woman trekker in India. Through Indiahikes, she has explored and put on the map more than 20 of the greatest Himalayan treks in India.
Indiahikes attracts the best talents. Their corp of trek leaders are usually mountaineering trained, along with first responder courses. They come from varied backgrounds. It is not unusual to see a management graduate trek leader working along an engineer.
Indiahikes’ Green Trails initiate is led by Dr. Lakshmi Selvakumaran. She is a PhD. She brings her commitment to leave mountains clean. Lakshmi is constantly researching on developing new systems of human waste management, litter reduction and disposal/removal of waste from the mountains.
Their Chief of Operations is led by Manish Pasad, who has over 20 years of organising travel programs. Manish, interestingly, is an entrepreneur converted to Indiahikes. He ran his own supermarket in Mumbai!
They all have come together for one reason – for the love of mountains. They are committed to changing the way trekking is done in our country. That’s probably one of the benefits of working at Indiahikes. You get an opportunity to develop new skills that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. You learn skills that are cross transferable.
Growth at Indiahikes is surprisingly easy. Your involvement and ability to take things forward can be felt by everyone — usually within days of joining. However, this growth comes with added responsibility though. Within months of starting one could be managing multiple roles. There are unlimited treks to do as well. What it requires is a mindset that is focused on problem solving, driving things forward and entrepreneurial bent.
The Green Trail initiative
To leave mountains in a better condition is what Indiahikes believes in and lives by. Every trekker on every trek is given an Eco bag. This bag is used by them to not only collect their own non bio-degradable waste but also the other waste that they find on the trails during the trek. These wastes are then brought back to the base camp where they are segregated and disposed off appropriately.
Up in the mountains, due to lack of oxygen it takes time for decomposition to take place at normal rate, hence it is very important to take care that the wastes are not left behind and brought back. Read more on the project and their achievements here.
What do you think about Indiahikes’ initiative? The team would love to know about it in the comments below
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