At Manchester Airport, a poster in the departure lounge recommended that tourists visit “Amazing India”. After a month there on a World Challenge expedition, none of the Rossall group could argue with that proud boast; in so many ways, it is more than amazing. The fourteen-strong team travelled from the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas in the north, to the deserts and hill forts of Rajasthan, experiencing the many things that make India amazing.
The team started their adventure trekking in the mountains around Manali. Manali sits at 2000m, but the team had to climb from that altitude up to our goal which was crossing the Hampta Pass at 4300m. The team was supported by horses, which carried the main packs, but everything else was carried by the challengers. On day six of the trek, the team crossed the pass and headed down into the Spiti Valley. As the trek phase finished, we had two memorable experiences. The first was playing cricket at 3100m where a Rossall select X1 narrowly lost to an Indian mountain guide X1. The second was going over the world famous Rohtang pass with its twenty-six hairpin bends; unsurprisingly, the team were oddly quiet as we came down the pass.
From the mountains, we travelled to Shimla, the old British summer capital. It looked just like Victorian Britain with its architecture, the only difference being the monkeys!
Our project phase in Udaipur was reached from Shimla via twenty hours of train journeys and a transit through the madness of traffic and pedestrians of Delhi. For six days the team helped to renovate a children’s centre, where children from the countryside areas outside Udaipur can go to learn basic Maths and English in a safe environment. As well as brightening the centre up with artwork and murals, the team also completed a toilet block for the centre learning new building skills along the way.
The final phase of the month long expedition took the team on a cultural tour of Rajasthan. In the local bazaars they honed their bartering skills, or not in some cases, ending up with gifts I am sure family members will cherish! The World Heritage hill forts of Jaipur and Jodhpur were incredible and you soon run out of superlatives to describe them. However, even they paled in comparison to the beauty and splendour of the Taj Mahal. The team were genuinely speechless as they all tried to get the famous picture on the marble bench with the Taj in the background.
The month was a mixture of action and adventure, culture and cuisine in a country that is both familiar and confusing at the same time. It was certainly an amazing expedition and Mr Fairhurst and I would like to thank the group for being such wonderful travelling companions.
Mr Mark Bradley, Head of Sixth Form