India Diary

Student Imran Choudhury “Mofozzul” has returned from his study trip to India and shares his travel diary with us. It sounds like quite an experience.

UKIERI STUDY India Program Delhi 2012

Missed first 3 days (Monday 20th to Wednesday 22nd August) due to not been able to travel to India because Passport was delayed for India’s Visa. So for me,

Day 1:

Arrived Delhi in the morning on Thursday 23rd August. Early afternoon visited “Baha’i’s house of prayer”, “Lotus Temple”. Late afternoon visited Delhi “British Council”, talk and presentation by British Politicians. 4 MP’s and 2 Ministers were present as they were in a similar program visiting India. Evening, talk on “Social Entrepreneurship” by William Bissell the Managing Director of Fab India.

Day 2:

Early morning, Yoga and Meditation. Late morning, tour of “Akshardham Temple Complex” including IMAX Theatre and Boat Ride thru Indian History. Afternoon, visit to “GK-1 North Block” Fab India and walk through “Upper Middleclass Neighbourhood”. Evening, “GK-1 Temple” for “Havan” (Fire Ceremony).

Day 3:

Saturday 25th August, free day. A group of 23 people decided night before to visit “Agra”. Day in Agra visited “Taj Mahal”, one of the seven wonder in the world and “Agra Fort” where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan lived with his family. I took the lead for this group trip.

Day 4:

Sunday, another free day so visited All India War Memorial “India Gate”, Mughal Emperor “Humayun’s Tomb” and “Jantar Mantar” a great masterpiece of Indian architecture which shows the scientific acumen of ancient India.

Day 5:

Monday 27th August, early morning, Bollywood dance then full day at Miranda House Campus, University of Delhi. Talk on India’s Education, Language, Parts e.g. zone, Marriage and Cast Systems. Free evening

Day 6:

Early morning, Yoga and Meditation. Day at Miranda House Campus, University of Delhi. Lecture on Partition of 1947, Indian Economy and Story Telling. Evening and night with “Expats” at Cherie Bar and Restaurant. Talk on living and working in Delhi (India).

Day 7:

Yoga and Meditation. Day at Miranda House Campus, University of Delhi. Lectures on India and Word Economy in recent Recession, “Save Yamuna River” presentation by students, Students Performances Street Theatre/Bands, Round table meeting with Indian students to talk about Social Mobility, Gender and politics, Theatre and Cultural Programs.

Day 8:

Early morning, Bollywood dance. Morning, workshop at hotel’s dining hall preparing Group Presentation for “Indian Schools” to share and understand Secondary School life in UK and India. Afternoon, Visit to Old Delhi including “Delhi Jame Masjid” (Masque) the Biggest Masque in India, “Chadni Chowk” and “Red Fort”. Photo Shoto for group competition with Gandhi’s 2 monkey at Red Fort. Evening, visit to “Nizamuddin Dargah”, one of the world’s most famous Sufi saints, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Enjoyed Qawwali Music Performance.

Day 9:

Bollywood dance early morning. Morning, internship briefing, afternoon: “Hindi Lesson”, talk on “Career in India” and “Working in Indian NGOs” by Devika. Talk on “Rural India” by Vikram explaining his project working towards building new university, Health Centre, Agriculture opportunity in the State of Maddhaprodesh. “E-commerce” talk by Ankur from “Groupon India”. Talk on “Develop India” by Sara Chamberlain from BBC Media Action. She was talking about transforming lives through media.

Day 10:

Saturday 1st September, free day. Trip to Amritsar, the State of Punjab by train at first class. 6 hours journey from Delhi was good, arrived Amritsar in the afternoon. Visit to Sikh’s Holy Place, “Golden Temple” (700kg of 24 carat gold on the dome of this temple). Late afternoon to evening, “India-Pakistan border” at Waga Border 40 miles from Amritsar to see the Gate Open and Flag down Ceremony. Interesting thing is that two countries that do not like each other are respecting each other’s army by doing this ceremony every day. Night visit to Golden Temple to see night view of the temple.

Day 11:

Early morning at “Golden Temple” to see the early morning view of the temple as it looks different from each times of the day and night. Late morning at “Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Memorial”. (The Amritsar Massacre, also known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, where On April 13, 1919, British and Gurkha soldiers opened fire on an unarmed forbidden gathering, killing hundreds of civilians.) Afternoon train to Delhi, 9 hours on economy class open window train was huge experience for me, arrived Delhi 11pm.

Day 12:

Monday 3rd September, Yoga and Meditation early morning then all day at placement. Placement with “Youth Parliament Foundation” (YPF). YPF is an NGO stands for young people right and work for the benefits of young people, education, health and future. Had a good day having looked at their Research Data they have collected on Sexual Health. Collecting all data from their research paper and accommodating in the system in their format was interesting work.

Day 13:

Yoga and meditation early morning. Placement all day with “Teach for India”. Teaching small children in English who are from very poor financial background e.g. slums at “Malviya Nagar” Vidyalai (School). First I observed for a couple of hours then I took part. It was very interesting and something exactly what I wanted to do as I am a student of Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) wanting to be a qualify teacher. This will help me somehow in future.

Day 14:

Bollywood dance early morning. Teaching at “Teach for India from morning to afternoon at same school as same as day 13.

Day 15:

Bollywood dance early morning. 9000 books were donated to Teach for India by a USA donor. Books needed stamping and marking plus there was a student competition day. I helped them to stamp, mark and sort them books plus I was a judge for the student’s competition. Had to mark student’s paper to judge them for the completion. Prizes for winner too!!!

Day 16:

Yoga and Meditation early morning. Same as day 14, teaching but nothing else all day.

Day 17:

Saturday 8th September, free day. Not long trip as prepared for after program trips. Visited many sites including, Qutub Minar (Qutub, is an array of monuments and buildings and Minar means Tower), Indira Gandhi Memorial, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial and Delhi Stock Exchange.

Day 18:

Sunday, free day. Visited to “Gurudwara Bagnla Saheeb Temple”, “Janpath Market” and shopping in Delhi. Spent all afternoon to write Placement Report for Study India Program organiser.

Day 19:

Monday 10th September. Early morning, Bollywood dance. Internship debriefing in the morning and afternoon for all students. Cultural Program at Delhi British High Commission. Commission on India Attire / Media interviews etc. and dinner at British High Commission. Everyone in India dress.

Day 20:

Early morning, Yoga and Meditation. Morning, visit to an NGO name “Salaam Balakh Trust”. They help children who are on the street. Accommodate them and try to return them to their family or take care of them until they are 18 by providing education and everything that necessary. Free evening!!!

Day 21:

Morning-afternoon, visit to Secondary School to do Group Presentation on UK Education System. Late afternoon, talk on Study India Program to overview Indian Economy and potential relevance to the India rest of our lives. Hindi Cinema in the Evening.

Day 22:

Early morning, Yoga, Meditation and Bollywood dance. Morning, feedback, Questions and Answers session by Kings College London at Delhi British Council. Afternoon, talk by British Historian William at Delhi British Council on India, Delhi, its religion and culture. Evening, Photo Shoto Competition results and “Students Got Talent” show night at Hotel Auditorium, Can’t believe I was singing and in Hindi!!!

Day 23:

Yoga, Meditation d Bollywood dance early morning. Morning, talk on Yoga, Meditation and Bollywood dance. Afternoon, last minutes shopping before departure. Evening, goodbye Delhi and end of Study India Program!!! Depart from Delhi for Jaisalmer

Day 24:

Saturday 15th September. After 19 hours overnight train from Delhi to Jaisalmer, arrived late morning and straight to “Golden For”t where Maharajas lived for centuries. Visited “Salim Sing Ki Haveli” (Salim Sing’s Palace), “Patwon Ki Haweli” (Patwon’s Palace), “Jaisalmer Lake” where Cat Fish shows dance if you feed them breads. Evening in “Sum Dune Desert Safari” by Camel and overnight stay in Desert in a Tent). Night entertainment with Arabian dance and Egyptian food.

Day 25:

Morning, at “Kuldar Gao” (Empty Village) in Jaisalmer.
Kuldhara village near Jaisalmer has a very unique history! It is said that the residents of 84 neighboring villages including Kuldhara vacated the villages overnight around 170 years back!! No one is sure where they have gone, but they are believed to have migrated to a place somewhere near Jodhpur. The residents were Paliwal Brahmans — said to be very intelligent, and residing there for about 500 years. So what made them do such an act? Stories say that the ruler of these villages pounded the Paliwals with heavy taxes and treated them very inhumanly; the ruler was unethical and forceful to them. They had no alternative, but to vacate all the 84 villages overnight and just disappear from the vision and reach of the ruler. When the Paliwals left the villages, they left a curse that nobody can inhabit the villages ever. Residents of Jaisalmer say that there have been some attempts by some families to stay there, but they did not succeed.
Afternoon, visit to Amar Sagor Jain Temple, music at a village in Jaisalmer. Evening, overnight train to Jaipur.

Day 26:

Monday 17th September. Arrived in Jaipur very early morning after 15 hours train journey. 150 km car drive to Pushkar late morning to visit “Lord Brahma Temple”, the only Brahma temple anywhere in the world. Afternoon, Pushkar to Ajmer 20km to visit The World’s Most Famous Sufi Shrine is Dargah / Darbar “Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (R.A) Dargah”. It is this holiest place in India not only for Muslims but people from all religion visits here as they all believe in him as a man of Unite. Overnight stay in Ajmer.

Day 27:

Ajmer to Jaipur, drive back early morning. Checked in hotel, freshen up, breakfast then visit to “Jaigarh Fort” (Jaigarh Fort was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh between 15th and 18th century, located on one of the peaks of the aravali range of hills in Jaipur). Afternoon in “Nahargarh Fort” stands on the edge of the Aravalli Hills, overlooking the pink city of Jaipur, built in the 7th century by Ajaipal Chauhan. Late afternoon to evening, “Amber Fort”. Elephant ride to top of Umber Fort was excellent experience. The Amber Fort set in picturesque and rugged hills is a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture, constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1592. Night stay in Jaipur.

Day 28:

Early Morning start at, “Jal Mahal” (“Water Palace”) built in 18th century, is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. Visit to Jaipur “City Palace”, which includes “ Chandra Mahal” and “Mubarak Mahal” where present Maharaja lives with family every known and then. Afternoon, visit Jaipur Jantar Mantar to see Indian scientific architecture. Later, Jaipur Zoo until 6pm. Transfer to Jaipur Airport for flight to “Mumbai”, the Capital City of the State of Maharashtra. Evening arrived in Mumbai.

Day 29:

Day one in Mumbai, early start. Start from “The Gateway of India”. Gateway of India ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England and the first Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through the gate in a ceremony on February 28, 1948. Visit to Hotel Taj Mahal Palace, which was under Mumbai 2008 Terrorist attack. Afternoon at “Elephenta Island” or “City of Caves”,. The ‘City of Caves’, on an island in the Sea of Oman 20km way from mainland Mumbai, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave. Visit to “Flora Fountain” at the Hutatma Chowk, is an ornamentally and exquisitely sculpted architectural heritage monument located at the southern end of the historic Dadabhai Naoroji Road. Built in 1864, a fusion of water, architecture, sculptures, and depicts the Roman goddess Flora. “Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market” (Crawford Market), a busy market area, this is best visited early on in the day. The fruits and vegetable section offers the best of produce. Depending on when you visit, the fruits of the season are always a good buy. “Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus” (Victoria Terminus), this is a magnificent building, and considered to be architecturally one of the finest stations in the world. Built by the British in 1888, it has exquisite ornamentation on its facade along with beautifully executed panels and friezes. It holds the statue of Queen Victoria on its dome. Visit to Mumbai “Jame Masjid” the main Masque of Mumbai.

Day 30:

Early morning starts from “Haji Ali Dargah”. Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most popular religious places in Mumbai, visited by people of all religions alike. Haji Ali Dargah is one of India’s most famous and prestigious landmarks situated about 500 yards from the Mumbai shoreline in the middle of the Arabian Sea off Lala Lajpatrai Marg. Visit to “Mahalaxmi Temple” one of the most famous and oldest temples in the city of Mumbai. It was erected in the year 1785, dedicated to Goddess Mahalaxmi the wife of Lord Mahavishnu. Visit to “Mahalaxmi Dhobighat”, is an open air laundry (Dhobi Ghat) where Mumbai’s dhobis wash thousands of clothes a day. Visit to the “EROS” Cinema, where most Bollywood Blockbusters Releases. Evening in “Film City” the home of Bollywood since beginning before shopping in Mumbai’s biggest mall “Oberoi Mall”.

Day 31:

Saturday 22nd September, final day in India. Early starts from “Nehru Science Museum”. Visit to “Mahalaxmi Racecourse”, modelled on the Melbourne Race Course, Built in 1883 on 225 acres of land facing the sea originally donated by Sir Cusrow N Wadia. Trip to “Johu Beach”, another tourist location in India. “Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple” and finally the “Hanging Garden” before getting ready to leave from India. Goodbye Mumbai and Goodbye India!!!

Sunday morning 23rd September arrives at Manchester. Starts PGCE from Monday and preparation for Study India Program Disseminations which will take place in November.