A group of 21 students of Indian Educational School (IES), along with 4 teachers and the tour operator set out on a tour to India from Kuwait on March 22 evening in connection with the educational trip organized by the school every year. The whole tour was filled with fun and excitement as it turned out to be an extension of the lessons discussed in their Social Science classes. They were fortunate enough to visit several places of historical importance and monuments which are detailed in their curriculum.
The trip involved long spans of road travels connecting each destination, Shimla, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It was a thrilling experience to witness the change of life and culture in each place. Fun and frolic with snow at Narkanda, a hill station situated 60 kms away from Shimla, was the icing on the cake of the tour. The students enjoyed walking through the dense thickets of the slopes and sliding and skiing on the snow. Strolls through the busy streets and lanes of the capital city, Shimla gave students an insight into the fusion of two cultures, modern and ancient.
The tour of Delhi started fascinatingly with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Qutub Minar, the world’s tallest free-standing brick minaret constructed by Qutab-ud-din Aibak in 1193. A myriad of marvellous monuments that combine both Islamic calligraphy and Hindu motifs, commemorating the onset of Islamic rule in India makes both Old Delhi and New Delhi outstanding and incredible. A drive past through ‘Indraprastha’, the capital of the kingdom led by the Pandavas in the epic, Mahabharata was truly worthwhile.
It covered the India Gate, a war memorial arch built in honour of soldiers who died in the Afghan Wars and World War I, the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the Parliament House and the major secretariat buildings, which were some of the major attractions of Lutyens’ Delhi. Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens has been referred to as ‘The greatest British Architect’ and is known best for having an instrumental role in designing and building a section of the metropolis of Delhi, known as New Delhi.
The Red Fort, built of red sandstone, and the biggest mosque of India, Jama Masjid, stands upright with utmost grandeur and splendor in Old Delhi as a remembrance of the glory of the Mughal dynasty in India. The group also felt contented after visiting Rajghat, the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace and non-violence. The busy streets of the capital city were explored and analysed further when the students went on a shopping spree in the evening. The touring of Delhi was overwhelming and a visual treat indeed.
Delhi to Agra journey was relaxing as it was through the Yamuna Expressway, 165 kms long, connecting Greater Noida with Agra. Agra is the base of the world famous Taj Mahal. Agra Fort, described as a Walled City, containing the halls of private and public audience and other palaces is a massive piece of construction headed by the Mughals in the eleventh century.
Agra episode extended to the visit of Taj Mahal. Built by Shah Jahan in 1560 in memory of his queen Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains, the Taj Mahal stands with full energy and splendor on the banks of river Yamuna. The mausoleum is widely recognized as ‘The Jewel of Muslim Art in India’ and remains as one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a symbol of India’s rich history. The famed mausoleum complex of white domed marble of the Taj Mahal actually is an integrated complex of many structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed in about 22 years, in 1653, employing around 20,000 artisans and craftsmen throughout the empire.
Fatehpur Sikri, a city founded by Emperor Akbar in 1569, was also visited on the way to Jaipur. The city served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585. The Fatehpur Sikri complex houses the tomb of a Sufi saint, Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal and other palaces, which surprisingly have withstood the ravages of time and are still in good condition. As there occurred a severe shortage of water in the area, Akbar had to leave this palace and city and return to Agra in the later years of the sixteenth century.
Jaipur, the Pink City of India, beckons the tourists with a few well-designed palaces, of which the Amber Fort is phenomenal and extraordinary. Amber Fort was originally built by the Meenas, and later was ruled by Raja Man Singh. The fort was constructed tall over a small hillock overlooking the Pink City. Amber is a classic romantic Rajasthani Fort-Palace.
Miniatures painted on the walls depict hunting and war scenes, apart from festivals. A major attraction was the elephant ride done in a forest nearby the fort. Drive past through the Pink City was amazing. It was a pleasure seeing most of the buildings painted in pink colour. The City Palace, the former royal residence of the Maharajas of Jaipur was magnificent with scintillating and splendid construction. Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world was breath-taking in all respects. The observatory has 17 large instruments, many of them still in working condition.
The tour that extended for 8 days was literally an attempt to scout the roots of our present. All the speculations and ruminations carried by the group from Kuwait went miles ahead to the collective idea ‘Our Heritage is Our Glory’ when they bade adieu to their homeland. The group returned to Kuwait on March 30, 2015 marking an enriching and comprehensive journey through the north of India exploring its varied culture, heritage, and glorious past and many more that make India the Incredible.