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News & Events
India Tour December 2017
Tue, 30 Jan 2018

A touring party of 23 people comprising nine teachers from St George's School, with their family and friends, embarked on an unforgettable trip to India from 3rd December until 12 December 2017. Mr James Low, a member of the School Board of Governors, Deputy Principal Mr NM Mubarak and other family members saw the group off at the Brunei International Airport. On arrival at New Delhi International Airport, Mr Livingston of the DJL Travel and Tours received them. Their first stop was at the Treebo Singh and Sons Hotel at Karol Bagh, New Delhi, where they spent the night.

The next morning, the group travelled more than four hours, heading towards Agra, to visit the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO World heritage site. The Taj Mahal was truly a sight to behold, a majestic mausoleum built by Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor, to house the tomb of his beloved and favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Another famous UNESCO World heritage site, the red stone Agra Fort, was built surrounded by a moat and with a steep entrance which acted as a multi-level defence system, put in place by Shah Jahan against enemies. Fatehpur Sikri, a dilapidated Muhgal city with many ancient tombs, was next on the visit list.

The Keoladeo National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, was the group's next destination. This sanctuary is a famous avifauna sanctuary that hosts thousands of migratory birds, especially during the winter season. They hired 11 tricycles, pedalled by local men who spoke a smattering of English, to journey through a few kilometres of marshes, scrubland and grassland.

Day four saw the group visiting a few other tourist destinations. The Wind Palace or Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, was built for the women of the royal household so they could observe street festivals from behind a high screen wall while unseen from the outside. Amber Fort or Amer Fort was built with red sandstone and white sandstone. Its Rajput and Hindu style architecture has a mix of Hindu and Muslim style of ornamentation. The Diwan-e-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience stands from the support of two rows of pillars. It was a meeting place for the king, ministers and the common men. Also found in the fort is the Sukh Niwaas, a hall where kings and queens relax, and is made with sandalwood and ivory. An interesting feature of the hall is a small channel that runs through it that carries cold water, an ancient answer to modern day air-conditioning! Sheesh Mahal or the Mirror Palace is the most stunning part of the fort. The walls and ceilings in this palace are carved with beautiful flowers and other paintings made with glass. The group members were shown the king's bedroom, women's area, the hidden secret pathway to the other forts, dungeons for royal prisoners, the mega cooking pot for guests and even the elephants carrying guests to the fort. Nearby, at the Rajasthan state 'small industries show room', the group saw the demo of art works and shopped for hand woven carpets, accessories, handicrafts, sarees and textiles. Subsequently they also visited the Albert Museum which housed the antiquities of the Jaipur kingdoms.

The group also visited the City Palace premises which is the current palace for the young teenage Rajasthan king. There was an art gallery where artisans demonstrated how natural colours are created and used in art work. The Jantar Mantar Observatory is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh 11 and completed in 1734. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. At the Water Palace or Jal Mahal some members of the group enjoyed a ride on camels. Nahargarh Fort was only accessible through a narrow but hilly mountain road. After the mountain fort, the group attended a Rajasthani cultural show called Chowki Dhani.

The next day saw the group travelling back to New Delhi. A visit to India Gate, a memorial for Indian soldiers martyred during the world war, enabled the group to witness the Change of Guards Ceremony held outside Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India. The Red Fort or Lal Qila is an old fort where the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation on Independence Day every year. Today the Red Fort is seen as the symbol of the seat of power of the government of India.

Next was a visit to Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, India. This is a crowded bazaar where an assortment of different items could be bought. There were local street food, numerous items on bargain, and the traffic was chaotic yet exciting for the group members who travelled in 11 auto rickshaws. After the chaotic rush at Chandni Chowk, they visited the Ambience Mall in Gurgaon for some more shopping and dinner. Another UNESCO World heritage site, the Qutab Minar near Mehroli kept the group members in awe. Qutub Minar, a soaring 73m high tower of victory was built by Qutab-din Aibak in 1193 after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu Kingdom. Next to the tower was the iron pillar which had not rusted for centuries. Another landmark in New Delhi visited by the group was the Humayun's Tomb built in 1570 for the Mughal Emperor Humayun by his first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum. It was the first-garden red stone tomb on the Indian subcontinent and is a model of the Taj Mahal.

The key part of this tour programme was a school visit to Mount Carmel School at Dwaraka, New Delhi. Mount Carmel School is privately owned and is one of the premier educational institutions in the country. It follows the Central Board of Secondary Education syllabus from kindergarten to higher secondary level (A level equivalent). After meeting with the Principal, Mrs Sunita Howell, the teaching members of the group were taken on a tour around the campus. Some of them had the opportunity to observe some classroom teaching. There were presentations by the principal of the host school first followed by Principal Janidi Jingan of St. George's School. Ideas were exchanged and the teaching members who went on the campus tour were able to take with them some useful teaching and learning styles.

The group members ended the visit to New Delhi, India, with further shopping in the street market of Karol Bagh and Reliance Stores, tasted Gulfi ice-cream, Bikanerwala sweets and had a delicious meal of Mughal food. The eleven days at the Golden Triangle, New Delhi- Agra-Jaipur, was indeed a worthwhile trip for the 23 visitors. Friendships were forged, not just amongst themselves, but with the people whom they met in India.