Change the world in your own special way this Christmas
From 19 – 29 December, join the if i could… family as we embark on an inspiring development learning trip to New Delhi, India.
- Tour the famous Red Fort and Spice Market
- Be one of the lucky few to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise
- Explore the Lotus Temple, Lodi Gardens, and Chandi Chowk
- Volunteer on specially designed projects at development-focused organisations
- Attend workshops and trainings with local development sector mentors
- Go on unique innovation and networking-themed fieldtrips around New Delhi
Explore the Dilli Haat market, immerse yourself in Indian history at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum and then get lost in Humayun’s Tomb. New Delhi will inspire and delight you with every new temple, food cart, yoga class and good cause. It’s an adventure not to be missed.
Join us from 19 – 29 December 2017. (Sign ups close on 30 November 2017.)
Tuesday 19 December
We look forward to welcoming you to New Delhi. Our airport collection service shall be available for you to take you from Indira Gandhi International Airport to the comfortable accommodation in which we shall all be staying.
As arrivals shall likely be somewhat staggered, we’ll spend this day unwinding after long flights and relaxing. Those of us who are feeling somewhat more ready for a preliminary explore of New Delhi can venture out to one of the local markets with a member of our team.
In the evening we invite you to experience Indian hospitality for the first time with a special welcome dinner prepared for you.
Wednesday 20 December
After a leisurely breakfast, we shall engage in the orientation programme prepared for you by our New Delhi and India experts. We’ll give you a taste of the language and some pointers on how to respectfully interact within the rich, diverse culture of India. We shall also share some health and safety protocols and give you an insider’s guide to transport and navigating the city.
When we’ve finished lunch we’ll depart for the magnificent Lotus Temple, a Bahá’i House of Worship that welcomes those of all creeds. The marble petals that form the nine sided structure reflect peacefully in the ponds surrounding the temple.
Once we’ve explored this beautiful, more modern space (the building was completed in 1986), we’ll take you to explore Hauz Khaz Complex- an ancient complex that houses a tomb, a mosque, and a water reservoir as well as a village that dates back as early as the 1300s. This ancient space is at the centre of the Hauz Khaz neighbourhood and is the antipode to the modern houses and businesses that are built around it. Hauz Khaz is the heart of New Delhi’s creative energy – the area is a network of lanes on which one can find modern art galleries, antique shops, excellent coffee shops, restaurants serving both local and international cuisine, and quirky shops selling Bollywood posters.
Dinner in Hauz Khaz shall end our first foray into the exquisite juxtaposition that is India.
Thursday 21 December
We’ll breakfast at home and then head out to visit our first partner organisation.
This organisation works closely with youth who are in conflict with the law. The organisation provides medical assistance, counselling, legal help, residential accommodation, meals, a literacy and education programme, skill-set development, and extracurricular activities. The organisation is also extending their outreach and providing a drop in facility for homeless street-based children who are prey to drugs and crime, with the ultimate aim of reintroducing them back to mainstream society.
We’ll meet the director and learn about the meaningful interventions they offer and then spend some time with the children and youth that the organisation supports.
From here we’ll move on to Chandni Chowk (the moonlight square) which is one of the oldest and busiest markets in old Delhi. It is filled with people, fabric, bric-a-brac, spices, and most importantly to us on this day – the most delicious street food We’ll have lunch here before we visit the incredible Jama Masjid.
Commissioned in the mid 1600s by the emperor Shah Jahan (who also commissioned the Red Fort and Taj Mahal), this magnificent mosque has the capacity to accommodate 25 000 people and, in keeping with Shah Jahan’s detailed aesthetic, is constructed from white marble and red sandstone and beautifully detailed with black marble inlays.
Opposite the Red Fort (which we shall visit tomorrow) and right next to Chandni Chowk is the Jain Charitable Bird Hospital. It was founded in 1956 on the Jain principle of aversion to killing and this unique Bird Hospital treats all types of birds and believes in the freedom of all living beings, no matter how small or insignificant they are. Its fascinating to see all the ‘patients’ and especially the care taken as injured birds are brought in, both tame and wild, with more than 60 birds being admitted and treated each day.
Dinner is back in the bustling Chandi Chowk with it’s incredible sights – the brightest colours, magnificent patterns and enthusiastic vendors all illuminated by matted bundles of cabling and electric bulbs hanging overhead that somehow provide light to the activity below them – afterwhich you shall have the evening to explore your surroundings independently.
Friday 22 December
Breakfast at home to prepare us for another day with our hosts. Today we shall spend some time engaging in a professional discussion with an expert in the field learning about positive behaviour change interventions that are practised with the youth in the care of this organisation.
Prior to lunch we visit the Gandhi Memorial site, Raj Ghat in Old Delhi, with a brief history of the humanitarian work that Mahatma Gandhi carried out.The Gandhi dynasty has had a profound impact on India’s political history and we’ll provide detailed information on the Gandhi family and the role they have played in India to date.
We shall head back to the vibrant Chandni Chowk to sample delicious, freshly prepared local street food for lunch while being led on a cycle rickshaw tour of the vibrant spice market. We’ll then visit the Red Fort (another architectural feat commissioned by Shah Jahan – this one in 1659 as the fortified capital of his city Shahjahanabad. It was plundered of treasure in the 1700 and nearly destroyed by the British Raj, yet the fort still stands. The red sandstone building now houses museums and it is from the ramparts that the prime minister of India delivers a national broadcast annually on independence day).
We plan an early dinner as tomorrow is a full day!
Saturday 23 December
Today we rise very early to be ready for our early morning yoga retreat in the historical Lodi Gardens.
After yoga we shall picnic brunch in the gardens, as many locals often do and then have time to explore. The gardens were originally landscaped in 1936 during the British Raj by Lady Willingdon, wife of the Governor-General of India and renamed Lodi Gardens after independence. The site of the gardens dates back to the 1400s and one can visit ancient tombs and more modern architectural marvels.
We’ll go back to our accommodation to pack an overnight bag to set off to our next host organisation which is l usually a two hour drive from New Delhi. We’re visiting New Delhi during the Wedding Season, so it’s prudent to factor in a little extra travel time incase we are lucky enough to see some magnificently theatrical wedding processions on our journey.
Our hosts in have an incredible animal sanctuary situated on a farm – they give animals in distress a home when no one else will. Currently housing over 250 dogs, they also care for (amongst others) rescued cats, cows, donkeys and emus. We shall be lucky enough to share our time and labour with them on improving their facilities and engage with an animal rescue expert who shall talk to us about the challenges of working with rescued animals in Indian society. Ideally we will also meet their founder who is a highly respected activist, an internationally recognised speaker and passionate about various causes.
We’ll have dinner with our hosts and settle down at their accommodation for the night.
Sunday 24 December
We wake to a simple breakfast at the homestead on the farm and then go on a guided tour of the farm to meet the animals and learn more about their animal care and rescued animals.
We depart back to New Delhi after our farm experience. We’ll have lunch in the city and then have some free time before we embark on the evening’s plans.
As it’s Christmas eve, we invite you to attend a traditional Christmas Mass at the Vatican Embassy chapel. All are welcomed to this mass, said in the chapel which is built in the classic Roman style. Join in with carol singing and stay a little afterwards for the Christmas bonfire.
Those that would prefer to explore New Delhi’s Christmas Eve night life are invited to accompany one of our team to listen to live music at a local venue.
Monday 25 December
We invite you to contribute mindfully and meaningfully today and spend some time at a local orphanage with children in need. This will be a unique way of celebrating Christmas with the spirit of sharing and giving back as the central theme.
Later in the afternoon you’ll have the time to explore the city yourself or accompany one of our team on a mall excursion – the mall culture in India is unlike anywhere else in the world and it’s a real cultural eye opener to experience.
Tuesday 26 December
Today we visit our final hosts in rural Faridabad. This organisation works with orphaned and at risk children and houses them in a village with real love and a sense of community. The children of school going age are sent to schools in the surrounding villages and the older children mentor the younger children in life skills and homework support. All children help where they can in the kitchen or on the farm and caring for the environment and being creatives helps them to develop much needed nurturing skills and a sense of responsibility. At this organisation we shall see how the philosophy of many hands make light work is put into practise and speak with the resident experts about the challenges that they face and the innovative solutions to they have implemented
We shall have lunch with our hosts and then explore the village of Kheri Kalan and the deserted Haveli therein with its incredible, fading frescoes painted with painstaking intricacy. This is a unique opportunity to explore a very old rural village, walking through the streets and chatting to local villagers.
Having had a long, and busy day we return to New Delhi.
Wednesday 27 December
After breakfast at home we get ready to visit India Gate and Parliament. Pack your overnight bag before we go, ready for our trip later today to Agra.
India Gate is similar to the French Arc de Triumphe and commemorates the more than 70, 000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in the first World War. Stand with your back to this impressive structure and you’ll see the beautiful circular building of the Indian Houses of Parliament.
We shall then explore Connaught Place (abbreviated to CP) – the largest business, financial and commercial centre in New Delhi. Building of the business centre began in 1917 and it is a magnificent example of a Raj imposed concept that has been completely owned by India. It is a hub of Bollywood films and high end tea houses. It boasts a bustling night-life and interesting local cuisine.
After lunch in CP we’ll travel to Agra – home of the iconic Taj Mahal.
Many people think that seeing the Taj is the seminal Indian experience. There is something magical about this place that was constructed for love. Before we go into the building we shall see it from the river that runs behind it – watch as the turrets catch the sunset and reflect in the waters and the white sands.
We’ll overnight in Agra, ready to experience the Taj Mahal at sunrise.
Thursday 28 December
The Taj Mahal at sunrise is an experience that continues to enchant us – no matter how often we visit. The white marble turreted and domed structure was built by Shah Jahan to immortalise his love for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She never got to see the completed monument, constructed by 20, 000 workmen over 22 years and was laid to rest there upon its completion in 1653.
We shall take the time to walk the passageways and wander in the beautiful gardens, absorbing the view of the city below us as the sun begins to light it.
We then head to the Agra Fort, commissioned by Akbar the Great in 1565. This fort is carved from red sandstone and was reworked during Shah Jahan’s reign to include marble inlay. The forbidding exterior hides a paradise within including the Pearl Mosque and some beautiful reception halls.
We then visit Fatehpur Sikri. It’s in Agra and considered Akbar’s greatest feat – he included houses of worship for every faith and invited scholars from around the world to educate him and his children. He had a real thirst for knowledge and his library has become one of legend with the array of literature that must have been included (it was destroyed in a fire) The city is now abandoned as there is no water – but remains eerily beautiful and a world heritage site.
After we have feasted our senses in Agra we head back to New Delhi for a special farewell dinner.
Friday 29 December
Today we say good bye to you. As your departures are likely to be staggered, our team shall be available to advise you on where to go for last minute shopping or perhaps experience a Bollywood film before you journey home.
Run by two French women who have been living in New Delhi for several years, and with their experience and numerous trips all over India, they have provided an ideal home away from home, which is safe, hygienic and comfortable. The accommodation is equipped with all modern facilities such as: Wi-Fi / internet, hot water, air-conditioning (which is essential in New Delhi), breakfast included, daily housekeeping, comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchen facilities, luggage storage, rooftop terrace/garden and other amenities. Most importantly it is safe, secure and comfortable and a welcoming home away from home. If you’d like to do unwind or explore without having to go far, you can sunbathe on the terrace or indulge in some leisurely reading and chai in the common areas.
19 – 29 December 2017
Early Bird special $999 if you book and pay before 31 August 2017 (thereafter its $1,250)
Single room with shared bathroom:
Early Bird special of $1,199 if you book and pay before 31 August 2017 (thereafter its $1,450)
Single bed with own bathroom:
Early Bird special of $1,499 if you book and pay before 31 August 2017 (thereafter its $1,750)
Our unique Christmas learning immersion includes almost everything you need for your trip to India. This packages includes:
- Pre-departure assistance
- Round the clock support from support staff and program advisor who will be travelling with you
- Shuttle services to and from the airport on arrival and departure
- Comprehensive program orientation and contextual scene-setting
- Welcome dinner
- Volunteering with host organisations in a customised, development focused program – all hosts are fully vetted beforehand and have a long standing relationships with us
- Themed field trips
- Workshops and trainings
- Cultural tours and activities
- All intercity transfers
- All included tours
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?
- International/domestic airfare – tour starts and ends from New Delhi
- Visa fees
- Travel insurance
- Any personal expenses
- Domestic transport outside of itinerary