Through my Father’s Eyes
Travel is in my blood. Nothing compares to that exhilarating feeling of waking up in a new destination. It is unpredictable, exciting and a change from the routine of daily life.
Early memories include my Father and I visiting abroad, London usually, for sales and marketing trips. Me; sitting at a dinner table in a restaurant, my head buried in an Enid Blyton novel while Dad entertained his clients and colleagues, exchanging stories about travel and simplifying- an otherwise daunting- India for them. He would share his profound knowledge of the country, answer questions and tell stories about the country that he loves so passionately. A country you visit, fall in love with and return to again and again.
The success of Dad’s company, Banyan Tours – involved in selling high-end bespoke holidays to India, catering to the international market – meant that he would constantly be on the move, visiting various destinations around the country. Whenever I was on a break from school, I would go with him. I was always excited to embark on a new adventure with Dad, and see India through his eyes. From; Shilma in the Himalayan foothills to the spice plantations in Goa, the colourful, vibrant state of Rajasthan to historic temples in Kerela… we travelled extensively throughout the Indian Subcontinent.
When I was almost through with high school, Shakti came into existence. Having grown up in Darjeeling while attending boarding school, Dad was exposed to the beauty and power of the majestic Kanchenjunga range, which sat right in front of his school chapel. School trekking trips and his early memories of the calming effect of the mountains, inspired him to start Shakti. He wanted to create comfortable, inviting accommodation and engaging experiences for travellers to visit and experience the breath-taking scenery of the Indian Himalayas.
He started in Kumaon and then moved on to Ladakh and Sikkim converting traditional village homes and farmhouses into Shakti style accommodation. The idea was to create walking holidays, where you set off on foot, exploring these remote parts and interacting with the local characters. This quote from Michele Jana Chan’s article for Vanity Fair, January 2020 sums it up beautifully; Sethna nailed total immersion before the term was coined: getting travellers out into the wilderness in the country’s less-travelled regions.
After graduating from University in the UK and a brief stint in modeling, I moved across to Delhi to work for the company. My work involved sales and marketing as well as visiting each of our remote properties and making sure everything was up to mark and interacting with our local teams. I remember staring at the Stok Kangri range on one of my first trips to Ladakh and felt my anxieties and worries slowly drifting away. I was in awe of the sheer vastness of the mountain range. While embarking on a hike with one of our Shakti guides, “ Where to?” I asked and he pointed to a point far off into the distance. I recollect thinking; I will never make it there. I huffed and puffed as we walked on, taking in the scenery and letting the beauty and mountain air in. When we reached our destination I felt a sense of pride and reassurance and thought to myself– mind over matter, if I can do this, I can do anything.
Shakti was conceived to share the rejuvenating effects of remote surroundings – to provide privileged access to places far removed from the noise and clutter of the modern world, where space, peace and epic landscapes provoke the imagination and nourish the soul. In these places of intense beauty and their deep, soothing serenity the traveler can slow down for a while and simply “be”. Visit www.shaktihimalaya.com to learn more.