In the early hours of a cold, dark Thursday morning in February a group of teachers and students from Loxford and Abbs Cross began an exciting trip to India. After an eight-hour flight we arrived in Delhi. The warmth of the evening air hit us as soon as we left the terminal. We were met by our tour guide for the week, Tajinder, who escorted us to our hotel.
In the morning we got up and dressed in our school uniforms and went to visit Salwan Public School in Gurugram. We were shown around the school, and saw some lessons. We had a food tech lesson where we learnt to make panjiri ladoo, a sweet snack. We travelled central Delhi to visit the original Salwan Public School. We were treated to a performance from the Primary school. We were invited to join a game of football with some of the India students and introduced to the Indian game of kabaddi.
The following day we travelled for four hours to reach the city of Agra – home of the Taj Mahal! We had a lovely lunch when we arrived and the restaurant put on a puppet show for us. In the afternoon we visited the Agra Fort and had our first sight of the Taj Mahal, as they are only 2.5km apart. We had a lovely afternoon exploring the fort and taking photos. We even saw an India squirrel! We then visited a marble workshop where we were shown some of the decorative pieces that local craftsmen had made.
The following day we got up very early to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Even though we arrived at 6.45am, there were already lots of other visitors! As soon as we entered the Taj Mahal Garden we were all blown away by the beauty and majesty. We all made sure that we got a classic Taj Mahal photo before we set off exploring the grounds and mausoleum. This was the definite highlight of the trip!
Later that day we visited Fatephur Sikri, an abandoned capital of the Mughal empire, and the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary before making our way back to Delhi.
We visited Salwan Public School again, where we participated in assembly and made candles in a science lesson. We took part in a Q&A session with some Indian pupils about environmental issues, and had an art lesson on the theme of protecting national monuments from environmental damage. We visited Delhi Haat market, where the pupils haggled for souvenirs, and some got henna tattoos.
We spent one day at Suncity School in Gurgaon where we participated in maths, science, art and drama lessons – we even had a bhangra lesson – and had a tour of the school’s multi-sensory suite. The staff and pupils at all of the schools were very welcoming and
Our final day in India was spent visiting Delhi’s main sights, including Delhi’s Red Fort, Jama Masjid – one of the largest mosques in India, Ghandi Cremation Memorial and Janpath Market.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our trip to India, and will remember the sights, smells and sounds for a long time to come.
Quotes from students:
“We were all amazed to see the changing landscape of the country-it’s so different to London”
“I loved seeing all the tuk tuks and motorbikes speeding in and out of the traffic”
“I loved seeing Mr Akhtar being taught how to wear a turban!”
“I was in disbelief at the scale and intricacy of all the buildings, especially the Taj Mahal which used the skills of 22,000 artisans over 22 years!”
“Visiting the schools was interesting as they have so many facilities. They even grow their own vegetables and prepare their own meals!”
“I loved Sun City School – we took part in a dance class and then ate lots of local treats right after!”
“Although we are from one of the world’s busiest cities, the fast and bumpy roads and sounds of the beeping horns in Delhi and beyond were a surprise to us”
“Seeing the Taj Mahal was my favourite part of the trip and something I’ll never forget – I have never seen a building so beautifully designed”
“I liked performing in front of hundreds of students at Salwan Public School. Their assemblies are so different to ours and it gave us lots of ideas for our own”
“My favourite activity was producing some artwork and learning about global warming at the same time”.
“The food in India was all very delicious – especially the hot naan and fresh curries every day. I will miss it a lot”