India has more than meets the eye

There are much more than the primary attractions to be seen and enjoyed in popular Indian destinations of leisure, pilgrimage, cultural and natural heritage etc. Discovering and propagating such natural and cultural attractions of secondary and tertiary importance is a sure-fire method of enhancing the tourism potential in our country and is far cheaper than developing new tourist destinations, says Pandian, Director of Cholan Tours.

India is a country of infinite variety and immense natural and cultural treasures covering the whole spectrum of tourism possibilities and potentialities.  India’s rich heritage, historical and archaeological monuments, popular pilgrim centres, colourful festivals and rituals, enchanting costumes and ornaments, classic and folk theatre, artistic and handicraft products, enormous natural resources, variegated wild life, geologic formations and climatic conditions, enthralling backwaters and beaches, refreshing mountains and valleys, facilities for all types  of adventure and leisure activities, etc. make India one of the most variegated and inviting tourist destinations in the world.  

However, the ordinary tourists are missing out on several attractions of natural and cultural value that are worth experiencing and cherishing, remind the entrepreneurial pair Mrs. Mythily Pandian and Mr. Pandian of Cholan Tours Pvt. Ltd., headquartered at Tiruchirappally in Tamil Nadu. 

Take, for example, the case of the ubiquitous tea shops of Madurai, overshadowed by the imposing towers of the historic Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple with 33,000 sculptures and 14 gopurams (towers) built centuries ago.  These tea shops are the social hubs for interaction between regular visitors and the dissemination centres of news on everything under the sun.  The social importance of these tea shops in the life of the local people has to be seen to be believed.  Cholan Tours takes their international visitors for an eye-opening walk in the morning along these tea shops and gives them a firsthand experience of the vibrant spirit of the real India and the great social interaction facilitated by an ordinary tea shop.  

It is not just the teashop that Cholan tours take you to experience.  Their walking tour from 6 am to 8 am named ‘ Vanakkam Madurai’, includes seeing the milking of cows by hands, sugar-cane juice vending, hair-cut saloon inside a tiny box-type shop, garland making and selling around the temple, small bookshops-cum-libraries along the road, eating from a banana leaf, kolam drawing of intricate designs by women using rice powder or chalk, etc. The visitors benefit from a great cultural exchange initiative, while other visitors escorted by most other travel companies end the Madurai trip after seeing the temples and their towers, without experiencing this touch on the pulse of India.

Pandian hails from Madurai and has a post-graduate degree in Philosophy and Religion, and his wife Mythily has got an MBA in Marketing.  Pandian has been in business since 1994, with a professionally managed organisation, Cholan Arts Emporium, engaged in manufacturing and exporting of products like replicas of antique bronze statues and sculptures. He entered the tourism business from 1998 and started a venture under the brand name of South Tourism in 2003, at Trichy, as a ground handling agency for incoming tourists.

It was in 2010 that the current venture, Cholan Tours Pvt. Ltd., with Pandian as Director and his wife, Mythily Pandian as Additional Director was flagged off.  It was a rudimentary tourism venture with a capital outlay of just Rs. 20 million.  Dedicated hard work by the directors and their team resulted in the phenomenal growth of this venture and the turnover for the fiscal year 2017-2018 was Rs. 600 million. The company has a pan-India presence with 14 offices strategically located across the country and a dedicated team of 300 qualified and passionate staff.  There are 160 vehicles plying all over India with domestic and international tourists, making them completely satisfied through excellent service.  The employees are also a well-content lot as evident from the fact that the company has one of the lowest attrition levels in the country.

Indian Panorama of Cholan Tours, authorised by Andhra Pradesh Tourism, is the first inbound Tour Company to have earned the privilege of arranging fast and guaranteed special darshan at Tirumala Tirupati Lord Venkateshwara Temple.  Transport and accommodation are arranged wholly by the company. 

Tapping the various attractions and scope for activities that are not related to pilgrimage found in pilgrimage destinations is something that Pandian is interested in.  He cites the example of  Holy Island Water Sports that meets the adventure and entertainment requirements of the incoming tourists and the local people at Rameswaram, facilitating aquatic activities like kayaking, jet ski, stand up board, windsurfing, snorkelling, coral watching and aquarium, together with land games such as trampoline, mini wheel, dora-dora, water ball etc. 

Pandian believes that tapping sustainable and alternative sources of energy will go a long way in conserving the earth’s resources.  The Head Office of Cholan Tours is being run on 100% solar energy, without depending on any conventional electricity provider.  The office has also been made completely paperless to save as many trees as possible.

On the CSR front, Cholan Tours is investing heavily to support the education of underprivileged children studying in Government schools, providing them with uniforms and fees.  Educational expenses of several engineering students hailing from economically weaker families are also met from the Cholan Tours CSR funds.

Cholan Tours has bold plans to boost the turnover to Rs. 1,000 million, by 2020, through several programmes including the training of employees to take up greater responsibilities and the nurturing of a stronger team spirit.  The Company is recruiting more qualified and dedicated staff and intends to mould them into ideal assets for the Company and the nation. Cholan Tours insists upon maintaining its status as a cent-per-cent trustworthy enterprise in their products and services. Pandian and Mythily Pandian together form a perfect pair of the most optimistic and dynamic people, and for them even the sky is not the limit.  They dream of a time in which all of mankind will be travelling all over a world without barriers and restrictions. They are more interested in activity-based tourism.  What they most value in travel and tourism is the facilitation of cultural exchange and understanding, based on mutual respect, between countries, communities, regions and individuals all over the world.  Let us hope their dreams come true.

-Biju Thomas

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