Women’s Day Special: Incredible woman power in the Indian travel scape

Image courtesy: ©Travel man/Shutterstock

These women have shown an incredible power when it comes to the Indian travel scape.

Neha Arora, Planet Abled

Travelling in India for a disabled person is unsurprisingly (and unfortunately) not kind on the nerves. Apart from being practically challenging, expensive and extremely limiting, it can be a humiliating experience. But there is one woman, changing the landscape of travel with inclusivity as the main goal. Meet, Neha Arora, founder of Planet Abled. She has been creating barrier free experiences in the country for over three years, slaying one societal prejudice at a time.


Image courtesy: ©Neha Arora

Neha’s quest for change was born out of numerous personal challenges of travelling with her visually impaired father and her mother, who is a wheelchair user. Planet Abled has helped hundreds of clients experience memorable travel moments – from rafting in frothy waters of Uttarakhand, taking heritage tours in Khajuraho, traversing the high altitude regions of Ladakh and many more.  For travellers with disabilities, being on the same plane as others is a watershed moment. In Neha’s words,” It’s the moment when disability becomes a possibility.”

Ansoo Gupta, OneShoe Trust

Image courtesy: ©Ansoo Gupta

If you feel that travel has reached a point of overconsumption and ludicrous exhibitionism that is causing more harm than exploration and personal transformation, your thoughts might resonate with Ansoo Gupta’s. Seasoned traveller with thousands of miles to her credit, Ansoo is the founder of OneShoe Trust, a movement that side steps packages, deals and mindless travel to overrun destinations. After travelling to more than 70 countries, and seeing the effect of over-tourism on different destinations, Ansoo’s goal is to make every Indian traveller a responsible one. Anchored on immersive experiences, rather than ‘dash-in-dash-out’ tenor of travel, OneShoe Trust is hinged on the kind of travel that enriches the traveller, the local residents and above all the beautiful spots that we go to see. Think, supporting local economies, understanding local ethos, being respectful to local culture, slow travel, reducing the use of plastics, immersive journeys and going beyond just ticking things off the list. Ansoo’s efforts have resulted in workshops, fairs, large events, pop-ups and talks across the country with all the stakeholders waking up to the need for this new way of travelling.

Shoba Mohan, Rare India

Image courtesy: ©Shoba Mohan

It’s been 15 years since Shoba Mohan has been steering the travellers’ gaze from the unwary cocoons of branded hotel chains to the more characterful owner-run lodges, retreats, stately palace hotels and glam camps. After all, luxury cannot be measured in expected comforts, facilities and amenities alone. Anchored on the ethos that ‘meaning is the new luxury’, Shoba, along with her partner, Sowmya, has pinned scores of family run boutique hotels and exclusive experiences on the travel map of India. The appeal of these properties lies in working with the local community, being mindful of conservation and offering immersive experiences. Looking to explore India with another eye? Borrow Shoba’s ‘Rare India’ lens.

Pavane Mann, Executive Director, Outward Bound Himalaya

Image courtesy: ©Pavane Mann

Pavane Mann’s name is etched strongly in the upper echelons of adventure entrepreneurs in India. She was the sole woman to have been on the lean team of men who started adventure outfits around rafting in 1985-86, when it was first allowed in the country. She co-founded Outdoor Adventures India, one of the first few companies that offered both mindful and intrepid travel options in the country. But the love for outdoors was not new. Hiking, countryside trips, sailing and camping were regular features while growing up, and studying in a school at the foot of the Himalayas further nurtured the love for the outdoors. After thirty years of adventure experience, Pavane continues traversing the subcontinent as a coach, leader and creator of rafting tours, long distance treks and adventure programmes for schools and corporates. Her time between adventures is spent managing The Lama House, a boutique homestay in Manali.

Malini Gowrishankar, F5 Escapes

Image courtesy: ©Malini Gowrishankar

Malini has worn many professional hats, but it is F5 Escapes that is closest to her heart. Founded in 2013 and being ably managed along with her cofounder Akanksha Bumb, F5 Escapes is an experiential travel company with a vision to redefine the way women travel in India. Malini believes that travel has the ability to foster equality and even impart humility in people. The local connections, the food, the ground realities of a destination are things that make for a powerful, humbling travel experience and F5 enables that for women travellers. For all the women who need the extra nudge to start exploring at their own pace, F5 is a safe way to get bitten by the travel bug. F5’s team has the unique ability to make both first timers on the road and seasoned travellers find resonance together in a variety of trips. It not only hopes to help lot more foreign and Indian women to travel safely in India in the coming years, but also touch more lives by conducting travel safety and confidence building workshops.