IHS BLOG

Class 9 Reminisce About Rajasthan

     

On the 6th of February, our 9th standard year-end exams officially came to an end after we handed in our last exam and went home to begin packing for our 10 day trip to Agra-Jaipur-Delhi. We were as prepared as we could possibly be, since we had already interrogated our previous batches about what to look out for, what to buy and what we should definitely eat while in North India. We trudged through the Coimbatore airport parking lot under the rising heat of a mid-afternoon sun on the 7th of February, 2017. We checked in our luggage and with boarding passes in hand, the 33 of us (and 6 teachers) – our excitement evident in the sudden rise of the airport’s average decibel level upon our arrival – boarded our initial flight to the Delhi airport.

Over the first two days we were taken on a tour of Agra’s number 1 tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal, along with the lesser known, but equally stunning, Agra Fort. We spent time exploring the structure while enjoying the breath taking view of the Taj Mahal though obscured by the city’s translucent atmosphere.  The second fort that we visited was located on the steep, mountainous terrain of Ranthambore. The Ranthambore fort is of great cultural significance to the people living there, who were proud to narrate stories of their beloved king’s triumphant reign over the city. Amer Fort at Jaipur was another eye-catcher, boasting endless flights of stairs and an impossible maze of tunnels which, to our surprise, led to a ‘hidden’ Café Coffee day outlet under the walls. Soon after the sunset, a light and sound show was played on the magnificent walls of the Amer Fort, depicting the city’s elaborate history. Our next destination, Jaisalmer, was a unique ‘living’ Fort. The whole city is made in sandstone to look like an extension of the fort, which is still inhabited by the town’s people, who make a living by selling their goods along the cobblestone streets to tourists such as ourselves.

This was one of the few trips we have been on that has had so many highlights that it would be almost impossible to list down each one. One of the major ones would have had to be Ranthambore, where we drove through a tiger reserve forest, shielded by nothing but a long, roof-less cantor. May be it was our luck or just mere coincidence that we happened to be one of the only groups to witness a tigress, called Arrowhead, devouring its prey.

Another interesting place was Jaipur, where we were guided through Jantar Mantar, an astronomical wonder. We were amazed to see how the entire site had precise structures made that could tell time based on the shadow of the Sun! Soon afterwards, we were let out to experience the traditional markets of Jaipur city. We just couldn’t resist the temptation to buy what was on offer, whether it be traditional jhumkas, colourful scarves or fresh kachoris.

The high point of the trip was when we went on a jeep safari to the sand dunes in Jaisalmer. It was our most thrilling experience, closely followed by the camel safari. The bumpy ride on camel back, led us to the perfect venue for a sand fight. Some of us raced down the ultra-steep slopes, some flipped over face first and others pretty much ate mouthfuls of sand as they were pelted in the face handful after handful.

Our teachers and trip organizers (Nirvana Nomads) enhanced the experience of travelling greatly by organising various workshops to help us experience the region’s diverse culture. In Ranthambore, we were privileged to converse with Mr Dharmendra Khandal, conservation biologist with Tiger Watch — an NGO. Mr Khandal has dedicated most of his adult life setting up of an anti-poaching information network in Rajasthan. His efforts have allowed the tiger population to flourish again in Rajasthan.

In Jaipur, we visited the Anokhi Museum to learn about traditional block printing art, and we were able to compose our own block printed piece on cloth. It was a wonderful team building exercise and we ended up producing a beautiful piece to be hung in our classrooms.

In Jaisalmer, we not only got to see a few local cultural performances but we also had the opportunity to interact with the famous Manganiar folk performers. After hearing the diverse, unusual, yet intriguing instruments made and played by the Manganiars themselves, this normally unappreciative group of 9th graders instantly became infatuated with their music.

These 10 days were truly filled with rich experiences for us. We stayed in a variety of places, from luxury hotel to tents and even a dorm. We travelled in all possible ways – aeroplanes, buses, trains, jeeps and camel back! We explored various cuisines – for us foodies, a few favourites included street-side chaat, daal baati, tomato sev sabzi, and momos (Dilli Haat). In these packed days, we saw many historical monuments and experienced the culture of Rajasthan which has been so beautifully preserved by its people. In all, we could not have asked for a more exciting trip.