School Travel

trip to India

Andy from The School Travel Company office recently visited India to experience what schools see & do in this fascinating country & was accompanied by teachers on an inspection visit. What an incredible adventure. 

As someone who has always been passionate about India, having travelled to over 20 different locations on 4 separate occasions, I couldn’t believe my luck when my boss suggested I go on an inspection visit with some teachers keen to explore the country as a potential destination for their students.

Arriving in Delhi felt so familiar to me, the noise, the colours, the chaos, the constant bibbing of horns and of course, monkeys and cows meandering around, safe in the knowledge they were the true custodians of this country. The inspection visit was designed to give any teachers thinking of undertaking such a trip with their school, a kind of ‘try before you buy’ offer to see if both school and country would fit one another.

It was the first time for both teachers, so not only was I excited for myself, but the vicarious enjoyment almost matched my own. 

We arrived at our first accommodation; an extremely safe, friendly, lush, green haven in a very quiet part of New Delhi, the perfect place to start our adventure in India. We first explored New Delhi, taking in the imposing India gate and the thought provoking Ghandi memorial and Museum, the latter of which still reverberates through the country to this day.

There’s something quite magical about embarking on an Indian train journey, it’s almost a right to passage for any tourist visiting the country. To observe Indian society simply going about their business or families on a day out, all whilst the chai wala sells his wares of (reasonably) hot, spicey and milky tea, is something I could never tire of. Arriving in Agra I felt a twinge of excitement. Sure, I had been lucky to have witnessed the majestic and emotionally moving Taj Mahal on two previous occasions, but on those visits, one time it was covered in scaffolding for maintenance work and the other covered in a dark thick grey smoggy sky that all but destroyed the illusion of what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful structures in the world. But I needn’t have worries, India heard my inner prayer, so when I walked through the entrance at dawn to aqua blue skies and sunshine, everything in life was just perfect at that exact moment.

Arriving in the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, I was instantly reminded why this is one of my favourite places in India.

Yes it still had all the intensity, traffic, frantic commerce, monkeys, horns, and smells of every other Indian city, but it almost has an identity all of its own. It’s the architecture, the (very slightly) slower pace or maybe surrounded by hills that just makes it feel special, well certainly to me. Amer Fort is vast and imposing and Jantar Mantar is fascinating. We think ourselves a clever species, with all our tech and race to discover new planets, but when you see that observatory and discover just how accurately extremely complex calculations were figured out several hundred years ago, it really is remarkable.

I think it’s a relatively safe bet to say that our two teachers were both smitten by India. This enchanting, sometimes frustrating, rewarding but never boring country dug its way, not only deep under their skin, but much deeper into their hearts.

There are fewer more gratifying experiences than stealthily observing someone incrementally being absorbed by and falling in love with a new country, culture, experience, and way of live, it’s a real honour to witness. They landed at Delhi almost like rabbits in headlights, hesitant, nervous, apprehensive, and full of trepidation. However, here they both were just a few days later, haggling with vendors, experimenting with new culinary delights, immersing themselves in random conversations with complete strangers and coming out the other side much richer for doing so.

Other than Jaipur itself, our accommodation, complete with swimming pool, gorgeous huge comfy beds, and extensive buffet restaurant, certainly added to our experience. As did the visit to Chokhi Dhani, which is essentially an authentic, cultural and entertainment centre just out of the town. Imagine your local British village fate, but combined with food halls, entertainment, farming, historic and fun areas that cater for anything and everything your typical Indian family or local tourist could wish for, that’s pretty much Chokhi Dhani and I loved it.

It was time to head back to Delhi and spend the last day at a more relaxed pace, especially as one of my colleagues was obsessed about finding the local Royal Enfield store, which he did with great joy and left with more than he arrived with. One of our teachers also bought and had tailored a few items with which he was extremely delighted with, as was the other teacher, who it appears had arrived in India with the clear intention to purchase anything she could get her hands on. That said, there was a beautiful moment when a street vendor was selling very pretty necklaces. She offered a price for one or a ‘special deal just for you’ if she bought 3! So enthralled by this charming young girl selling her wares was she, that I think she bought 40-50, one for every pupil in her class, that was a lovely thought. The other teacher, the one who purchased some tailored clothes, also informed the group that he had a very ‘specific’ shopping list from his twin sons, one a golden statue, but of anything and the other, a Taj Mahal statue. This turned into a quest for the whole group who all engaged in his quest, which I’m happy to report, was a huge success and both his sons loved their gifts.

How can I summarise India, how do I describe my own personal experience over what is now 5 different visits, I think I know. I once heard someone say that any visitor to India should abandon all expectations on arrival, just let her take you on her journey. Yes you’ll have an itinerary and yes you’ll have plans which you’ve meticulously planned down to the last detail, but I honestly believe that the more you just let go and completely immerse yourself into everything India has and wants to offer you, the experience, and memories you return home with will be far richer, as will you be.

Planning a visit to India can be daunting to any teacher or trip organiser, but it is undoubtedly extremely worthwhile. If it sounds like your students would benefit from this exceptional educational experience, then get in touch with The School Travel Company, and see how we can help you make this an unforgettable journey. Your students will learn and experience so much, it will be a trip that stays with them for the rest of their life.

Find out more about our India trips here – https://www.theschooltravelcompany.com/india/

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