A Journey of a Lifetime – ALL INDIA ROAD TRIP: Hemant Soreng, PGP 1997

Hemant, the founder of Rustik Travel, took up the challenge of traveling through India covering 26,000 km across the 28 states to create awareness and revive travel post-pandemic. A journey as magnanimous as this is like a magical bag of goodies, you never know what comes out of it. This article is just a brief reflection of Hemant’s trip among the innumerable stories and content that reflects the true essence of India.

On 13th March, 2022, two passionate travelers – Hemant Soreng (IIMB PGP class of ’97) and Rajesh Nair, co-founders of Rustik Travel (a Sustainable Experiential Travel company) completed their mega six-month long road trip in a car across the length and breadth of India. They covered all the 28 states along with 5 Union Territories spanning a road distance of over 26,000 km. During this long journey many other road trippers (many of them IIMB alums) met them and many joined them along the way for different durations.

While this is not the first time anyone has traveled across India in a car, the way in which this was done was remarkable. 

Firstly, they started off in the midst of a raging pandemic that would put a spanner to their travel plans with frequent Covid waves ravaging the populace.

Secondly, the duration of the road trip was six months long, keeping in mind their intent to see and experience India at length and not just pass through. These drivers would’ve had to sustain that much longer on the road away from home.

Thirdly, they had no money. No sponsors. Coming from the heavy losses of two straight years of the pandemic, these two travel entrepreneurs were bankrupt and deep in debt.

However, the situation was much worse for their less fortunate colleagues from the industry – the drivers, guides, porters and from related craft sectors – artisans, weavers and others, the backbone of the hospitality & tourism sector. Coupled with an ever-burning desire to see the country, they didn’t think twice and stepped on the throttle, without waiting for any help to follow the elaborate and a thought through itinerary they had created. The idea was to travel across the country spending time in each place highlighting the issue in an effort to revive tourism with the slogan “Dekho Apna Desh” and celebrating 75 years of progressive India with the campaign “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”.

“And as they say, if you have the intent the Universe conspires to make it happen. The support started pouring in from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Bengaluru, friends, family and people they met along the way,” said Soreng.

They were received with a resounding welcome from IIMB alums, friends, family and fans in the form of a valedictory ceremony hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Bengaluru, in the same way they had flagged off from the city on 2nd October 2021.

During the ceremony they shared their experiences and stories from the journey.

“The richness of our experience has been astounding. We realised that people are generally good as many of them helped us, hosted us and fed us with some amazing cuisines this country has to offer. We met a lot of intrepid travellers – we met a person who was walking solo from Srinagar to Kanyakumari, a group of young bikers from Kerala who were coming back from Kashmir, two youths who were hitchhiking across the country without any vehicle and little money, two traffic policemen in Tripura who are passionate travelers themselves, an elderly couple who travelled thousands of miles to show their differently-abled child a narrow gauge train, and many more such interactions”, said Nair.

“Then there was the diverse, wild and yet beautiful terrain we drove on – from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Jaisalmer to Bum La Pass in Arunachal Pradesh as we experienced deserts, mountains, forests, the wildlife, lakes, beaches, villages, offbeat places, the stark difference in the time zones along with the ancient past that is present almost everywhere in this country, that makes us very proud indeed”, added Soreng.

“Truly, there’s so much in India that one need not travel abroad. What these two have done to travel across India braving fatigue & exhaustion, the dangers of possible road accidents and getting infected during the pandemic while highlighting the cause is just so amazing. I wish that I would’ve joined them on this All India Road Trip”, said Mr. Mohamed Farouk, Director, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Bengaluru, as he felicitated them concluding the ceremony. “We thank them for taking such an enormous initiative and thus inspiring many of us to go out there and travel, and while doing so help the micro economies of these various destinations”. 

About Hemant Soreng

Hemant is a published Author, Serial Entrepreneur, IronMan Triathlete, Scuba Diver, Documentary Filmmaker, Podcast Host, Mountaineer & Traveler. Founder, Rustik Travel Ventures. Electronics Engineer (DCE) with PGDM (IIMB class of ’97).  

More at www.hemantsoreng.com 

About All India Road Trip

All India Road Trip is an initiative by Rustik Travel in association with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Bengaluru. Starting on the Gandhi Jayanti day, 2nd October 2021 honouring the father of the nation, the Rustik Travel team crossed all the 28 States and 5 Union Territories in almost six months covering over 26,000 km. The event was flagged off and also concluded by Mr. Mohamed Farouk, Director India Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Bengaluru with much fanfare and was well attended by many.

About Rustik Travel

Rustik Travel curates activity-based travel experiences in India and abroad that have a local flavour and engages people from the local community.

Sustainable Experiential Travel, in short. 

Sustainability, in terms of creating livelihoods, protecting environment and preserving culture.

Experiential, in terms of travel experiences ranging from adventure based – trekking, biking, cycling, diving etc. to cultural,  culinary, volunteering and more.

More details at www.rustiktravel.com

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