In the summer of 1991, my wife and I were travelling to Chennai by bus. We were brainstorming about the various potential business opportunities in Pondicherry, while admiring the beautiful beaches of Mahabalipuram that passed us by. Coincidentally, a couple of days before, we had received a phone call from a close friend of ours, who informed us about a vacant office space in a prime location on the main commercial street of Pondicherry. Ever since our marriage, all business decisions had been taken jointly. Therefore, this decision as well had to be mutually agreeable. But what were we actually going to do with the proposed office space?

As providence would have it, the bus we were traveling in, came to a screeching halt bang opposite a then leading travel agency in Chennai. The swank office and its smartly dressed staff impressed us. After having spoken to its manager, who surprisingly assured us that he would support us in our new venture, we were inspired to open a travel agency in Pondicherry. A bold and adventurous proposition, especially given our lack of prior experience in this sector! Thus ‘Chetak Travels’ was conceived, a day forever etched in our memories. A travel agency would not only provide us with the opportunity to serve people but also help us fulfil our childhood dream of travelling the world together.

It is the spirit of service that still defines our company today. Assiduously and with great respect for our clients, we have built Chetak into a world-class organization that epitomizes the ancient Indian belief “Atithi Devo Bhava” (The guest is equivalent to God). Today, we are 25 years richer and boast of thousands of happy clients around the world. Now, with the arrival of our elder son Nishchal, who brings in renewed energy and much coveted international experience, we firmly believe that the company is poised to take the next big step.

Come, travel with us and enjoy the finer moments of life. Rest assured that our professional services, coupled with our warm and personal approach, will surpass all your travel expectations.

Vikram and Tarika DOLIA

Founders

Vikram DOLIA
Founder & Managing Director

In 1975, Vikram graduated from the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE), Pondicherry, and has lived there ever since. He started his career at Auroshikha (Pondicherry), a renowned company that exports incense and allied products to 26 countries. He was heading the exports and inland distribution for Auroshikha’s incense products. A pioneer within the company, Vikram created distribution networks across Europe, USA and Canada in 1980. He was selected to be part of a 4-member survey team sponsored by UNDP & CHEMEXCIL India, which travelled to the USA and the Caribbean Islands. In 1981, as a first-generation entrepreneur, Vikram founded Vineet Exports, which dealt with exports of garments, leather and handicraft products, which enabled him to travel abroad frequently. During the next decade, he ventured into various businesses, which helped him gain wide-ranging and invaluable experiences.

In 1991, Vikram (along with his wife Tarika) founded Chetak Travels and shortly after, passed the IATA’s Basic Course. Starting from scratch, Vikram’s hardworking nature coupled with his ability to learn new things quickly helped Chetak grow exponentially. Today, as the Managing Director (MD) of the company, he ensures that Chetak continues to grow, while serving its clients with honesty and integrity. He firmly believes that his job as the owner and MD of the company is to be an enabler to create very personalized travel plans for clients that look for experiences beyond mediocrity. He also knows the travel industry’s leading personalities in India and abroad. Moreover, Vikram is fluent in French, English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil and other Indian languages, which enables him to communicate effectively with his national/international associates. Over the past 25 years, Vikram has helped shape Chetak into a trustworthy and respected brand that is known for its transparency, integrity and impeccable service.

On the social front, Vikram is a dynamic member of the RCP (Mid-Town), often playing the role of a catalyst in its various projects. In 2009, during the Club’s prestigious silver jubilee, Vikram was specially elected as its President to initiate several innovative projects that benefitted the educational system for needy children in and around Pondicherry. He continues to spend considerable time and personal resources towards meaningful social projects. He actively supports many leading NGOs in Pondicherry, such as Volontariat, Satya Special School, Nirvana School, Gandhiji High School, Ramakrishna Vidyalaya, etc.

On the personal front, Vikram is a good blend of two different cultures, which reflects in his work ethic; he epitomizes traditional Indian hospitality and yet maintains a Western professional outlook, especially with regards to punctuality, dependability and quality of service.

Tarika DOLIA
Founder & Director

After her primary education in Mumbai, Tarika came to Pondicherry in 1970. She graduated in Arts from the reputed SAICE, Pondicherry, in 1977. After her graduation, Tarika initially worked as headmistress in Udavi School (Auroville) based in a rural setup. Here she had the opportunity to teach students and interact closely with their families (mostly from under-privileged backgrounds). She took immense joy in imparting knowledge and skills to a community that did not have a stable means of livelihood. In 1981, Tarika (along with her husband Vikram) founded Vineet Exports, a garment business, through which she trained ~1000 rural women in Indian embroidery and helped raise a community to sustain itself. In 1991, while still owning a successful garment business, Tarika and Vikram founded Chetak as an additional entrepreneurial venture. Today, 25 years later, Chetak has carved out a niche market for itself.

On the professional front, Tarika is well trained in the GDS (Global Distribution System) reservation systems for booking flights, hotels, transportation, etc. She has also successfully passed the Air India basic course of Fares and Ticketing in 1995. Over the past 25 years of service in the travel and tourism industry, Tarika has travelled extensively in India and abroad (20+ countries) as well as catered to travelers from across the globe. Her forte is inbound tourism, especially from French-speaking countries such as France, Belgium, Switzerland, Reunion Islands and Canada. Tarika has also handled the Pondicherry French Consulate’s outbound travel requirements for several years, which enabled her to professionally organize official/leisure trips anywhere in the world. Having established a wide network in India and abroad, Tarika is capable of handling any personalized travel request, be it adventure, culture, relaxation, education, wildlife or a combination of these.

Committed to understanding her clients’ perspectives, Tarika has personally accompanied foreign groups to various parts of India, thus gaining first-hand experience of what clients expect while traveling in India. While accompanying groups, which she continues to do, Tarika has stayed in some of the most exotic properties such as Lake Palace (Udaipur), Umaid Bhavan (Jodhpur), Brunton Boatyard (Cochin), etc. Thereby, she has experienced impeccable service and ensures that this excellence is reflected in her work. Moreover, Tarika personally knows the owners of various hotel properties as well as home-stays in India. These excellent relationships help her provide a differentiated travel experience for her clients, which is in line with her mantra: Atithi Devo Bhava (The guest is equivalent to God).

On the personal front, Tarika is a perfectionist. Her joie de vivre and zeal for life are truly infectious. Apart from her work, she is passionate about dance and cooking. Originally from Kutch, a part of Gujarat in Western India, she enjoys doing garba (traditional dance form of Gujarat) as well as dancing to Bollywood and Zumba music. A cook par excellence, Tarika loves to dabble in exotic cuisine, be it Mexican, Italian or Indian. She often invites her clients home for a soirée to interact with her close-knit family over a sumptuous meal. These soirées are often enriched by animated and passionate discussions that her radically different sons (one an ex-investment banker and the other a passionate wildlife biologist) bring to the table. Tarika seamlessly juggles work-life and family-life, without compromising on either.

Nishchal DOLIA
Director

Nishchal is a second-generation entrepreneur born and brought up in Pondicherry. His alma mater, like that of his parents, is SAICE in Pondicherry. His fascination for the beauty of flight and movement in air was born while studying at SAICE. With this in mind, he had always dreamt of working in businesses associated with airlines, or the manufacture of aeronautical products. With over ten years of job experience and international business exposure in several countries, it was time Nishchal became an entrepreneur. In June 2016, he joined Chetak with dreams of taking the family-run business to greater heights.

After having studied at INSEAD (No. 1 Business School in the world), Nishchal was an investment banker (4 years) in the European Transportation and Infrastructure Group (M&A) within Morgan Stanley (London). He has worked on various high profile Travel/Tourism and Airline related transactions (among others, the Sale of Kuoni to EQT; Thomas Cook’s acquisition of Kuoni’s outbound operations (India and Hong Kong); Sale of Ryanair’s stake in Aer Lingus; Lufthansa’s exchangeable Hybrid bond of Air France, etc.). He gained valuable knowledge about the travel industry and his work also involved frequent interactions with C-Suite executives and thought leaders at various events. His experience helped him hone his networking skills, expand his industry knowledge, understand and appreciate the value of time, focus towards making a difference for clients and in particular the relentless pursuit towards excellence.

Before Morgan Stanley, Nishchal was the Regional Director for CFM International (50-50 joint venture between Safran and GE) and headed the business for India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He championed the sales and marketing in the region and frequently attended international airshows representing the company (Paris, UK, Singapore, Dubai, etc.). In his role, he learnt the art of international negotiations and dealing with various nationalities. He also previously worked as the Business Development Manager at Safran, Bengaluru for two years. Throughout his work at Safran, he learnt the French way of doing business, a skill that helps him in his current role.

On the personal front, Nishchal is a francophone and a francophile who is obsessed with making a positive difference in people’s lives. He speaks several Indian languages and believes that the travel business provides him the right opportunity to pursue this passion while using his international experience. He values the finer things in life and would like to treat his customers with the same passion for perfection and luxury. By providing life changing travel experiences, he would like to showcase the best of the Dolia hospitality.

Story behind Chetak’s Logo

Logo_Ver3The logo of Chetak Travels was selected after a long process. It symbolizes the Flying Horse of Ranapratap (King) of Rajasthan. This horse possessed extraordinary powers and excelled in its missions; he has brought several victories to its master, while being a faithful and loyal servant to him. It is this spirit of dedication and selflessness that defines Chetak Travels today.

About Chetak – The Horse

The three major breeds of horses popular in Western India of Rana Pratap’s Times were Marwari, Sindhi and Kathiawari. Chetak belonged to the Marwari breed. It had a slender body as that of a desert bred horse. Its high forehead was highly expressive combined with a long face and brilliantly sparkling eyes. One of the most distinctive features of Chetak was its attractively curved and curled ears. As a horse, Chetak was aggressive, arrogant and difficult to control. It could be controlled only by Pratap to whom it demonstrated the highest degree of loyalty and submissiveness. Most ballads sung in praise of Pratap and Chetak describe their personalities as equivocal as they shared a number of qualities in common between them.

The heroism and loyalty of Chetak are best illustrated by the incident that happened in the Haldighati battle. In this battle, the opponent’s army was quite larger than that of Rana Pratap. When Rana Pratap attempted to try the life of Raja Mansingh, the commander of the imperial Mughal army, Chetak made its way through the tough army of the opponent and reached near the elephant on which Man Singh was seated. Chetak reared its forelegs and planted the hooves on the face of the elephant. Rana Pratap attempted a frontal charge and threw his lance, which misfired and killed the elephant driver.

Chetak’s loyalty towards his owner was more than the Rajput kings of his time. He not only remained loyal to his owner till he breath his last, but also rescued him from the battlefield to a safe place in spite of having a fatal wound himself. Eventually, Chetak received a fatal wound in one of its legs. Though its was under excruciating pain, it realized the danger awaiting its master and carried him from the battlefield. On the way, with its wounded legs, it even jumped over a flowing river. Having saved the life of its master, it fell down and died at the laps of Rana Pratap, who got a small monument erected in the same place where the faithful companion breathed its last.

CHETAK TEAM