973 EAST CHENNAULT AVENUE
FRESNO, CA 93720, USA
I was born in a Brahman family in the cantonment part of Agra city. Our ancestral home is about a mile from the world famous Taj Mahal. In the late 1950s and early 1960s my grandfather used to wake me along with my brother & cousins at 4.30 am to jog to the Taj Mahal. In the Shahjahan gardens we used to attend Pravachans or religious lectures on Veda, Vedanta and Bhagwad Gita from Swamis who were invited from Rishikesh. For children Hatha Yoga was also organized. When the grass in the gardens was wet we would meet on the terrace of Saheli Burj monument just outside the west gate of Taj Mahal. For some time when this monument was under maintenance by Archaeological department we would request the gate keeper of the Taj Mahal to allow us to meet inside the Taj Mahal itself. There was no entrance fee in those days. We rarely saw any tourists in the Taj Mahal up to sunrise when we returned home.
After earning my B.A. from St. John's College in Agra I obtained a tourist guide license from Uttar Pradesh Government subsequent to a training course in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh State and after passing an entrance exam I successfully completed the Department of Tourism of Government of India's official course to obtain an all India tourist guide license in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan State. After working one year from Jaipur I moved to Agra, my home town. From mid-1970s to April 1980 I guided more than 1500 foreign tourist groups through prominent incoming tour operators in India at that time like the Sita World Travels, Thomas Cook, Travel Corporation of India and Mercury Travels among many others. I guided and escorted tour groups of well known international tour operators like the Grand Circle Tours, American Express, Unitours of USA; Jet Tours of France; Kuoni Tours of Switzerland and Germany; Zuid Europa Tours of Holland among many others.
I guided and escorted tourist groups in the north Indian region of New Delhi, Mathura, Agra, Gwalior, Orchha, Khajuraho, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Sariska Tiger Sanctuary, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. I was recommended to guide VIP guests of the Government of India as well as of various foreign embassies and foreign cultural centers in New Delhi.
I have personally travelled to almost all destinations that I offer in India and Nepal.
In April 1980 I moved to Zug, Switzerland to study German language at the Oekos Sprachschule in Zurich. Subsequent to other education in commerce and banking I worked for nearly 17 years for Swiss and international banks in Zug, Zurich and Geneva in the credit and risk management departments. Between 1980 and 1999 I operated a travel agency from my home in Zug under the name of Indien Reisen that specialized in historical, cultural and wild life tours in India and Nepal for private individuals and families in German speaking part of Switzerland. During my almost 20 years in Switzerland, I travelled extensively in western and eastern Europe, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Nepal, USA & Singapore.
In June 2006 I registered India Traveller in Fresno, California. Since then I have planned and operated many private and group tours to Indian sub-continent.
In 2006 I operated the "The Art & Culture of Northern India Study Tour" that was cosponsored by the 'Division of Continuing & Global Education' and 'The College of Arts & Humanities' of the California State University, Fresno as well as by the Fresno Art Museum. This study tour group of 33 participants was co-directed by my wife, Professor Joan Sharma and myself.
In 2008 I planned and directed the 'Northwestern India Tour with Tiger Safari & Pushkar Camel Fair' sponsored by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce with 20 participants.
In 2010 I operated the 'India - Madhubani Art Workshop Study Tour sponsored by the 'College of the Arts & Humanities' of California State University, Fresno for 22 students and community members. This study tour had a 5 day workshop in the traditional Mithila Painting in the town of Madhubani, Bihar.
In December 2013 I operated the 'North India Luxury Tour' for art history & art professors, educators and others from California central valley community that included a 2-day stop-over in Amsterdam to visit the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijkmuseum and the Rembrandt House Museum, followed by a 17-day luxury tour of North India that included visits to interesting sites in New Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Chand Baori step-well in Abhineri Village, Jaipur, Deogarh, Udaipur, Ranakpur, Jodhpur, Pushkar and Nawalgarh. This group stayed in some of the most luxurious and heritage hotels including the 1746 built marble island palace, the Taj Lake Palace Hotel.
Apart from these I have operated many other private/individual and group tours in all regions of India, Nepal and Bhutan. Recently I have added Myanmar to India Traveller offerings. The historical and travel information on Myanmar and Bhutan is included in the Myanmar / Bhutan Culture Private Tour itineraries.
In December 2014 I have completely re-designed the India Traveller website with latest historical, cultural, political and travel information on 80 cities including Kathmandu & Lumbini in Nepal. A newly designed group tour with option to choose from Ultra Luxurious Hotels or 5-star hotels on Jewish Heritage of India is being offered for the first time. Our tour guide in Mumbai in this special group tour will be Jewish - there are two very knowledgeable government of India approved tour guides in Mumbai belonging to this community - they are both very knowledgeable not only on Jewish history of Mumbai & India but also on the rich and varied cultural and commercial heritage of India's commercial capital.
In 2016 three interesting tours are planned. The Northern India Luxury Tour with Pushkar Camel Fair from Nov. 3 to 19, 2016 offers stays in some of the world's most luxurious hotels including the Oberoi Udaivilas Resort in Udaipur and Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur. The 17-day Art & Culture of Northern India Luxury tour is a similar itinerary but Pushkar is subtituted with a royal stay at Deogarh Castle.
The third tour this year is an unforgetable 16-day, educational art tour: India - Madhubani Art Workshop Tour that starts from international flight from Los Angeles (flights from other airports with price variation can be arranged). In India the group tour lands in New Delhi where there is are 2-half days sightseeing tours of India's capital. Next aftter a flight to Patna and drive to Madhubani is a 3-overnights stay with a painting workshop in one of the world's most ancient folk painting traditions combined with visit to village home studios of mostly women painters. The return trip to Patna has halts at the sculpture studios of Goddess Saraswati sculptors, then sightseeing of Vaishali, a ancient town that Buddha visited often and where he made one of his first female desciples named Amrapali. In 3rd. century BCE Mauryan Emperor Ashoka built monasteries and stupa at this site, the remains of which are still there. Later visit the birthplace of Sikh religion's 12th and last teacher, Guru Gobind Singhji. In Patna visit the Patna Archaeological museum and Khuda Baksh Oriental Library where you will view a vast collection of medieval manuscripts and miniature Islamic paintings. Next is the highlight of this tour - the world famous Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. On the way to Jaipur visit the deserted ancient capital of Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri. At Amber enjoy a royal elephant ride to the palaces of Kachwaha Maharajas in the hilltop fort. Later visit the City Palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur and the still functional Astronomical Observatory. In Shekhavati - the open air mural art museum of Rajasthan visit two fascinating Havelis or medieval aristocratic mansions of Silk Road Traders in Nawalgarh and Mandawa.
I have also added a blog page, in which I will be publishing articles about India Traveller and me personally.