— Amrita Ghosh
Breaking away from the mundane heritage walking tours, No Footprints co-founder Eesha Singh brings a new approach to storytelling through travel experiences.
With 35 experiences in Mumbai and Delhi, No Footprints aims to highlight neglected conversations about cultures, people and communities.
“When we started our tour, we didn’t want the history to sound boring, we wanted to keep it humorous. We wanted to tell the story from a stand-up perspective and make sure to get a good sense of a city in a few hours.” Singh at Tells Skift Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia on the latest episode of Skift’s India Travel Podcast.
The company launched Dawn Mumbai tours in 2014 and has since developed community-focused tours around the Parsis, East Indian and the city’s indigenous Koli fishing communities.
Some of its notable tours include:
- Mumbai Dawn: These tours start at 5am and explore the inner workings of the city – from newspaper and milk deliveries to fishing and fruit and vegetable distributions. “The best time to experience Mumbai is at dawn, just before the chaos starts,” Singh said.
- Queer Day Out: Often led by Queer Journey activists, the tours chart a journey through the country’s queer history. “When we launched this tour, people were confusing queer travel with queer-friendly travel,” Singer said. “So we needed people to understand queer narratives, queer history and queer subcultures. ”
- Refugee Food Tour: These trips help travelers understand how the international community is reshaping their identities through food. Singh spoke of how celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor had joined them on an entire tour in Delhi to learn about the capital’s refugee community.
In early April, No Footprints hosted celebrities and organized trips for actors Tom Holland and Zendaya, model Gigi Hadid and chef Nigella Lawson to visit Mumbai.
New Habits for Indian Travelers
Indian tourists are now more interested in experiences than simply ticking off a wish list.
“When we launched experiential tours, we weren’t sure if domestic tourists would take it up. But we’ve observed a growing interest in seeking experiences in the city beyond eating and drinking,” Singh said.
The company recently held a foraging workshop and partnered with the Mumbai Natural History Society to learn about wildlife conservation.
Before the pandemic, No Footprints catered to the inbound market.
“We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time. With local audiences unable to travel out of town, we started doing a lot of backyard tours, encouraging people to be tourists in their own backyard, exploring places close to home and reconnecting.” Singh said.
In addition, the company began offering immersive seminar-led tours for domestic visitors on weekends and is working with schools to incorporate them into the curriculum, allowing students to learn more about their city.
“In a way, the changing travel preferences of domestic tourists are a perfect fit with what we offer post-pandemic,” she said.
Photo credit: No Footprints launched the ‘Mumbai Dawn’ tour in 2014. Sassoon Quay in Mumbai.