In the year 1993, a fresh graduate stepped out of the gates of his University with a dream which was rather unconventional for a person coming from a
conventional Maharashtrian middle-class background. He did not want to get entangled in the never ending mesh of doing a job,he wished to start his own tourism business
instead. That young boy was none other than Makarand Joshi who ultimately did make Vihang Travels into a reality. Although Makarand did not possess any academic
qualifications which could have stated his expertise in bold letters on a piece of paper neatly framed and kept on display at his office, his expertise manifested
from a more practical and hands-on experience which he gathered while organizing nature camps during his time as a student at the university. This practical experience
coupled with his grit and determination enabled him to metamorphose his dream into a reality. At the time of its inception, Vihang Travel’s did not even possess
a land-line phone number but Makarand’s socially active parents brought in a copious amount of networking to the table and being the legal owners of a shop by
the name of ‘Radh Krishna bhandar’ , Vihang Travels was destined to take off into the adventurous realm of the tourism industry.
The first tour was organized in the auspicious month of Shravan, particularly the Shravan Somvar, a trip to Southern Kashi ‘Harihareshwar-Pali’. After that there was
no turning back-Ashtavinayak, Jejuri, Goa-Ganpatipule, Konkan Darshan, Shrivardhan, Malshej ghat, Bhandardara, Bhimashankar, Ajintha-Verul-Aurangabad and all such
places were covered and this helped Vihang Travels to garner more publicity. In addition to that special nature camps were organized in the month of Diwali and May for students. These camps mainly took place in the jungle confines of the Tadoba sanctuary situated in Maharashtra, Bondla wildlife sanctuary of Goa and Dandeli in Karnataka. The students were given a deeper insight into the intricacies of forest life, its vegetation and the geographical parameters that govern the ecological system. Activities such as birding, identifying insects and snakes were some of the many that were undertaken. It is only through these camps that students are able to understand their bond with nature and in the process it facilitates the strengthening of that bond. These camps were undertaken under the guidance of the upcoming nature lovers back then like Yuwaraj Gurjar and Krushnamegh Kunte who accompanied Makarand during these camps.
After a successful stint of organising tours in Maharashtra, Vihang spread its wings to cover all the important tourism spots pan India. Places like Hyderabad-Shrishailyam-Nagarjunsagar, Indore-Ujjain-Mandu, Shimla-Kullu-Manali, Nainital-Masuri, Konark-Puri-Kolkata, Jaipur-Udaipur-Abu, Jodhpur-Bikaner-Jaisalmer, Kerala-Kanyakumari, Saurashtra, Hampi-Badami-Pattadkal were covered with a renewed vigor. Along with these group tours, Vihang also catered to the tourists who wished to travel independently to these places by managing everything. After single handedly running the operations of Vihang Travels for 12 years, considering the steep rise of competition in this business and considering the limitations of a ‘single person operation’, Makarand decided to focus on the very core strength of Vihang which lies in Nature Tourism.
Tours to places like Kanha-Bandhavgarh-Pench of Madhya Pradesh; Ranthambore, Khichan, Taal chappar of Rajasthan; Jim Corbett National Park of Uttarakhand; Dandeli, Bandipur and Coorg in Karnataka; Bondla-Mollem-Kotegaon in Goa; Sasangir in Gujarat; Tadoba of Maharashtra; Sunderbans of Bengal; Kaziranga of Assam; Leh-Ladakh and also to places like the flowery plains of Kaas which are world famous and places like Bhigwan, Phansad, Velas, Amboli, Matheran, Bhimashankar took place.
A nature tour is not a trip away from the hustling -bustling cacophony of the urban life to watch wildlife while still enjoying the urban facilities; in fact it is a complete departure from every facet of life in the city. It is an experience of breaking away from the shackles of our ecologically destructive urban life and then getting entwined into the beautiful loops of nature in order to understand our connection with nature from a more holistic point of view. The life in a jungle is comprised of numerous species of animals, insects, birds and vegetation yet there is a certain kind of harmony within the system which lies untouched with any artificial means of life as we routinely are used to in the city. It brings us back to our roots and we automatically sense a deeper connection with our surroundings which ultimately molds our personas into nature lovers. The pleasure of watching the majestic Tiger in the Jungles of Tadoba, the massive Rhinos in the Kaziranga, the mammoth elephants of Bandipur is indescribable and these tours bring us closer to the them and watch them in person with our own eyes. The importance of saving water, curbing the use of plastic, curbing the noise/air pollution are some of the issues which are addressed upon in these tours. An ace photographer like Yuwaraj Gurjar who has kindly obliged to be part of Vihangs’s endeavour and thus ‘Photographers Tours’ ‘Photography Workshop’ are a few other avenues on to which Vihang’s journey has begun.
Vihang has accumulated years of experience, meticulously studied nature and the ecosystem and has always stood by its resolve to preserve and protect nature. It has carried this sense of responsibility with pride over the years and had disseminated the best services to its patrons/tourists. This the precise reason as to why Vihang’s journey till date has been a very commemorative and a satisfying one. With a the continued support of nature lovers like, the adventure will go on….