In conversation with Mina Tilakraj,
Independent Tourism Professional
Mina Tilakraj is an independent tourism professional who looks at travel and life from a different dimension and perspective. She describes herself as a storyteller guide of India, and promoter of tourism for global goodwill and understanding. She is currently the only Travelism Expert in the country. Starting off as a licensed tour guide over three decades ago, she graduated on to become a tour manager and later an itinerary designer.
She is also an inspirational speaker, welcoming you to travel with her to discover and experience the wonders of the ‘outer’ and your ‘inner’ world at the same time – a journey that will enhance your world view and help you meet your real inner self - the wonderful ‘Incredible & Absolute You’!
On the travel front, she welcomes you to a world of memorable experiences in the country and discover the true spirit of ‘India beyond books’ - on road-trips, story tours, spiritual tours and pioneer tours.
For this feature interview we thought it would be interesting to switch from the question format and use quotes from our initial conversations with Mina Tilakraj – because her thinking about travel is a lot more than arriving at your destination.
“Travel for me is much more than just my interest and a profession. It goes beyond just showing or seeing places.”
As far as I can remember, I have always been a travel freak. As a little girl, I was called Minno Banjaran. I would often wander away in the neighborhood and even got lost a couple of times. As a grown up the professions I got into, first as an air stewardess and later as tour guide, were both related to travel.
Often people travel to reach a destination, whereas for me the journey was equally exciting as there was so much to see, to do and so much happening along the way. In India, which has 7 geographical zones, 9 living religions and a mind-boggling cultural and geographical diversity, there are fascinating changes after every 150-200 kilometres during your journey; the topography, vegetation, color of the soil, flora and fauna, the traditional dresses and houses of people – the visual panorama keeps changing. In fact, the longer the journey the better it was for me.
My profession was an opportunity to share the wonders of Incredible India with the world – ours as a country has no parallel and remains unique over thousands of years in terms of culture, traditions, and philosophy.
As quoted by Mark Twain – ‘As far as I can judge, nothing is left undone by Man, Nature or God to make India the most extraordinary country the sun visits on his daily rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.’
“Often, I am asked, what helps me keep going with the same vigor and excitement after 35 years of being in the tourism industry. Aren’t you bored and tired of seeing the same place repeatedly?”
Well, are you ever tired of being proud of your beautiful house, or of the achievements of your family? I ask. Similarly, that pride of my country and culture keeps me going with enthusiasm. I never tire of sharing the great works of art, the nuances of my culture and of our great Indian history, and I love watching the way our visitors look at a monument or a piece of art after my narrations.
35 years ago, when I saw the Belur and Halebid temples for the first time, my eyes flowed with tears of wonder and pride. I wondered why Indians are not proud of being Indian.
Just think of the arts and sculptures in the temples, forts, and palaces - they are ancient and were created without the availability of sophisticated tools and technology available now and are yet so perfect to the minutest details. Take for example the nails and eyelashes of the human figures, or the sadness, the anger, the frowns and smiles on their faces. The pillars of the temples are also made so perfectly in design and size to produce the seven notes of music.
Think of the perfection of the sundials of Konark, the incredible perfection of the monolith Kailash temple at Ellora in Aurangabad, the fascinating stepwells. Oh, I could go on and on with this. All this is so humbling and a matter of pride at the same time for not just Indians but the entire humankind. I can never tire of sharing this pride and enthusiasm with my visitors which keeps me going on.
Monuments such as these of which we have plenty, can make anyone bow down with respect for the artists who created them. I have seen people in tears of wonder and joy on hearing their stories and seeing such operas of art.
I am passionate about creating global awareness through my story telling - about India, her culture, and her history, thereby promoting India tourism.
“Travel helps bridge the gap among people of different cultures through greater non-judgmental understanding, tolerance and open-mindedness.”
The merits of travel are endless. It teaches you that nothing is an absolute right or wrong, that it is all relatively subjective. It teaches acceptance and tolerance. It makes you participate and experience the diversity of cultures with glee, making you open-minded, non-judgmental, and adaptable.
It makes you aware of the incredible geographic and cultural diversities, the infinite possibilities available to explore and leverage them. It makes you respect the immense human potential, creativity, and so much more.
Travel has also contributed a lot much to my personal growth, to my appreciation of Indian history, culture, and art and to my pride of being an Indian. Through my talks, stories, audios, and videos, I share with our visitors the excitement and enthusiasm of new places, of experiencing new cultures, and of the joy of discovering God-made and man-made wonders of nature and of history.
Travel re-energizes you, recharging your inner batteries. Everyone should travel away from home for 8-10 days or more, at least once in the year. It allows you to enjoy simple things gleefully like a child.
I share all this as a ‘Promoter of Tourism for Global Goodwill & Understanding’.
All images used are courtesy of Mina Tilakraj
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