In 1993, Capt. Ajay Sud and his friend Rajesh Ojha found their way to the stunning Kinnaur area and started a love affair, which still continues.
Banjara literally means ‘Nomad’. True to its name, the company owes its genesis to the itinerant Himalayan wanderings of its founding (& current) directors, Ajay Sud and Rajesh Ojha: in the year 1993 they rambled into the stunning Sangla valley in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh, India. It was love at first sight, the start of an affair with the high Himalayas, which still continues. To quote them: “the immense, pristine natural beauty of the valleys forged by gushing crystal clear rivers, the awe-inspiring towering mountain peaks that stood guard, alpine flower strewn meadows & pastures…it all made us long to share this paradise with other like-minded travelers”.
So in 1993 they established the first Banjara Camp and Kinnaur’s pre-eminent tourism offering: Swiss Cottage Tents with all creature comforts, in an apple orchard besides the Baspa River in Sangla Valley. This was followed by another first, the Banjara Retreat – Kaza, when Spiti was thrown open. Boosted by the success of these efforts, the years that rolled by saw a lot of exploration & travel by the directors & senior team members to everywhere in the Himalayas to identify lesser known trails, soft adventure experiences, relatively untouched & hidden destinations for new camps/retreats, and properties to partner with.
Today, we are a team with over two decades of cumulative experience in travel to the remote Himalayas. We have an extensive infrastructure based out of our camps & retreats in Kinnaur, Shimla, Spiti, Kulu valleys; and a strong services network in partnership with handpicked, like-minded, properties & travel service providers, in the Greater Himalayan, Lower Himalayan & sub-Himalayan regions; from Kashmir–Ladakh in the west till the eastern extremities of Arunachal Pradesh, as well as in the trans-Himalayan plateau of Tibet. Most importantly, we are proud of having delivered numerous memorable Himalayan travel experiences to the complete satisfaction of an ever increasing family of Banjara Guests.
We are proud of having delivered numerous memorable Himalayan travel experiences to the complete satisfaction of an ever increasing family of Banjara Guests. In 2007 we received the AWARD of EXCELLENCE in the very year that it was instituted by the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI). An important reason for our success is that through all the expansion and growth we have not tampered with the combination of product & service attributes mentioned earlier in the context of our flagship camp at Sangla, nor have we compromised on our policy of protecting and promoting the ecology/fauna/flora, local culture, traditions and even the architectural integrity of the places we operate in. This makes sure that our guests have memorable holidays and they come back whenever they plan a new holiday in the Himalayan region which is why we have kept ourselves not- so- big that we lose you in a sea of guests but big- enough to give a range of experiences. The advocacy through our guests has allowed us to grow organically as a business. The recommendations in reputed travel guides like Alaistair Sawday’s, Lonely Planet & Frommer’s, 501 Great Places to Stay (Bounty Books) and the extensive coverage, every now and then, both in print and electronic media (NDTV, CNN-IBN), have helped too in making our journey thus far quite wonderful and satisfying.
THE BANJARA PHILOSOPHY
At the core we – Team Banjara, are explorer-travelers with a penchant for discovering off beat, little known and untarnished experiences in the higher Himalayas: great places to stay offering hospitality that is so warm that you forget the mountain chill ; pristine, exquisitely beautiful locales steeped in peace & tranquility; mountain settlements and sites that seem frozen in time and are home to ancient cultures, vibrant traditions & remarkable architectural styles…little-hiked-on trails that lead to awe-inspiring and soul-stirring displays of Himalayan grandeur that few are privileged to see. At another level we are travel & hospitality professionals, who simply facilitate your discovery of these Himalayan treasures in a planned, comfortable, secure, responsible, and hassle free manner. Here are the tenets & values that we abide by, in all we do:
- Design & offer ‘relaxed travel experiences’ built around guest requirements, not ‘rushed sightseeing holiday packages’ driven by bottom-lines.
- Never suggest experiences, which we (as in a senior Team Banjara person) ourselves haven’t experienced; be it a destination, a property, an activity, an itinerary, a driving route, a hiking trail …
- Stay as far away from the crowds, and as close to nature as possible. Of course, there would be exceptions: maybe to see & participate in a local monastic / temple festival, visit a village market…
- Offer windows for authentic experiences of the local culture & traditions, wherever possible.
- Always give paramount importance to the safety & security of guests.
- If something is not Responsible Tourism, then don’t do it or encourage it.
- Never infringe on the architectural integrity, ecology, heritage & culture of any place, in any of our activities: these are sacrosanct and must be preserved.
- ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’, Sanskrit for ‘Guest is God’
- Never stop exploring!