School is the place where people learn and grow throughout their lives. 12 years are put into school and in most of them you spend your time in a classroom in a building, you rarely get a chance to go out and see the world with your friends. My school, Podar International School gave my classmates and I the opportunity to visit Bangalore and Mysore as a school trip. They took Grades 4 through 9 to Bangalore and Mysore for four days and made sure every one of us had a gala time.
Podar was very efficient and was able to accommodate the needs of three hundred plus students visit a new place. Over four days we visited Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bannerghatta National Park, Mysore Zoo and Mysore Palace. It was a wonderful trip in which we spent time with our friends and got the feeling of independence and some of us got our first chance to live life by ourselves away from parents and family. The experience helped a lot of us learn and grow as people.
My trip started with a flight at 06:00am on Day 1. We got to the airport two hours before the flight and were given special ID Cards and those with check in baggage were given labels. The school was very helpful with clothing choices as it recommended the colour of clothing, we had to wear each day. I was able to fit my clothes into one backpack and didn’t have to check anything in.
Given the large number of students we were split across multiple flights, my group was on the 06:00 AM Vistara flight. We arrived at Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru around 8:00 AM. And took buses to Holiday Inn Bangalore where we would be staying for the night. Podar had partnered with Tour India Tours and Travels so that we had access to AC buses throughout the trip. After a short drive we arrived at a banquet hall to eat our breakfast. The breakfast was quite good and after some time we set off again as eighth graders came to eat their breakfast. Podar had cleverly staggered the buses so that as one group finished their food as another one came in.
The reception at the hotel obviously took some time to check-in 300+ students with quadruple sharing. In the end, everyone got rooms and though they were a bit small for four people, they were fairly good. There were two twin beds and my friends, and I had already decided who all would be sharing. The bathroom was quite spacious and had all the common amenities. The wall of the shower was blue glass but you could make out the silhouette of people in the bathroom but not the actual person which was kind of weird.
The teachers told us to change and come down for lunch and then leave for HAL in half an hour. We took our time and got ready for the first excursion of our trip changing into the attire they had assigned to us. Podar told us to wear white for our trip to HAL so everyone was wearing some kind of white either with a pattern on the front or just plain white. Unfortunately, the exact day we were wearing whites, the hotel served Butter Chicken which spelled doom. Sure enough, many of my friends got some gravy stains on our shirts. Thankfully we were able to wash it all using a mix of wet wipes and hand wash. We got ready and then headed back down for HAL, only to be delayed by some mix-up.
HAL is amazing! They have a timeline from the founding of HAL in 1940 to 2010 in a rotunda room and then they have live models of their greatest aircrafts in hangars. Due to the delay at the start, we couldn’t view all the hangars, but still had a great time learning about the planes, helicopters and engines HAL produces. The physics teachers that had come on this trip were helpful as they explained how the planes and the rockets worked. For a part of the visit, we were all packed into one theatre room that was honestly too small for the number of people stuffed into it like sardines. The video was quite nice but I had a spot by the door, so I was interrupted a few times. The video showed us all the projects HAL worked on and their most successful aircrafts and rockets.
We headed back to the Hotel for Hi-Tea which was some light snacks, tea and coffee. After that the students were once again sent up to change into clothes for the evening pyjama party. This was one of the three events at night planned for us during the trip. Once again, the party was broken into three sections: ninth and eighth graders, seventh and sixth graders and below. The ninth and eight graders danced, we (the seventh graders) played Bingo and the lower grades played various games including musical chairs. They then served dinner and at 9:30pm or so we were sent back up to our rooms. In our room, we didn’t have to change, already being in pyjamas for the party, and after playing some card games, me and my roommates fell asleep.
The next morning, we awoke at 6 am and a teacher came in a little bit later to check that we were getting ready. At 7, we had breakfast and then were split by class into our buses. My class was grouped with two sixth grade classes and climbed into our bus. This bus would be the bus we used while in Mysore for the next part of our trip until the last day. Day 2 had a bit of travel, as we had to drive from our current hotel to Bannerghatta National Park and from there to Country Inn and Suites, Mysore. We were in camouflage style T-shirts for our Safari in Bannerghatta National Park.
The park safari was quite fun, and we got to see a lot of animals including deer, bears, tigers, lions and more. While it was not as authentic as other safaris that I’ve been on such as Gir or the innumerable tiger safaris it was the most rewarding in terms of sighting wild animals. We were loaded on a safari bus with netted windows and taken through enclosures for each animal separated by gates. It was not seeing the animals in the wild but more seeing animals in their true habitat. After the safari we filed into an auditorium and were given a speech on animal preservation and how the National Park looks after animals. They even showed us animals that are often mistreated. The presentation was long but incredibly informative and told us all about the importance of animals in the ecosystem.
The rest of the drive to Mysore was mostly uneventful, the food they served us on the road was ok but, not the best. We reached Country Inn and Suites after what felt like forever and had hi-tea. After the small snack, the Director Principal of Podar, Dr. Mrs. Vandana Lulla instructed us about the following days. After reminding us of the rules, she assigned us rooms for the next couple of nights. The rooms had one bed and one mattress on the floor. We were given some time to settle down into our new place of rest and change for the upcoming DJ Night. The dress code for this evening was neon or bright colours and while some people took this very seriously wearing reflective neon t-shirts, I sported a bright orange t-shirt. The atmosphere was electric with foot-tapping Hindi music blasting from speakers and bright lights flashing from all around.
It was a blast! After we all danced and had fun our dinner was served and the food at Country Inn and Suites was much better than the rest of the food served on this trip. The night activities Podar had organized made us more connected to our friends and people we knew by sight but not nearly as well as our inner circles. After the party, the teachers gave us a chance to call our parents to tell them how we were, and it was one of the first times it properly hit me that I didn’t have my parents around for such a long time. The calls were made and some more songs were played but after the lights came on, the dances ended everyone slowly trickled out of the room.
The next day we were woken up later than usual after the excursions of last night. We wore blue that day and were to explore the Mysore Zoo and Palace. The buses took very little time to reach the zoo that morning and we loved exploring.
The Mysore Zoo is an amazing place filled with animals and though you have to walk quite a bit, I feel that it’s really rewarding to do so. We saw a ton of animals all existing peacefully including leopards, tigers, bulls, elephants, birds of so many varieties and even multiple species of snakes. I truly have no words for the zoo, it was glorious! We were allowed to break up into smaller groups and explore the zoo by ourselves and me and my friends managed to cover the whole 2.8km worth of walking routes in the time allotted to us.
After the zoo trip we returned to the hotel for lunch and then head out again to the palace. The trip to the palace from our hotel was just 20 minutes. When we had reached, we learned we would have to put our shoes in a bag that would be kept at the shoe stand, as the palace is regarded as holy ground. We were told this amazing story in which a temple in the old wooden palace was untouched in a massive fire which destroyed the rest of the palace. The palace was then rebuilt by the then queen of Mysore. The palace took so long to make that the work was completed during the reign of the next Maharaja. I learnt all of this and more because of our great guide Mr. Deepak who expertly led us through the palace.
The tour began with a walk down a corridor exhibiting the great sculptures and artworks owned by the maharajas of the past including elephant head taxidermy. Then we went through a few rooms of the palace and viewed the courtyard where parades and fights were held. We learnt of the paintings on the walls all through the palace. They had been done from the memory of artist from all over the world of the great Dusshera festival held in Mysore. They were so realistic that in some cases names of people involved in the picture were written on plaques below the picture. The artists had studied the festival for more than three years to make those images.
After a while we came upon the single greatest room in the palace. This room fit more than a football field and a half on the ceiling without any supporting pillars. The way the Mysorians were able to pull off such a feat is by making separate curved parts of the celling and running cast iron beams through small gaps and hooking them to the walls of the room. I am still in awe of that room. The room is magnificent and the whole palace is in fact breath-taking.
After that we got our shoes back, clicked some pictures and then went to St. Joseph’s Church one of the tallest and oldest churches in India. We couldn’t enter the church and only viewed it from outside. After that we went back to the hotel for hi-tea which once again was delicious and came back to drive past the palace to see it lit up for the Sunday evening. That bit was rather quick as we saw it for just a couple of minutes and then did a U-turn and headed home. It was still beautiful though.
The day was going to end with the gratitude day. We were to wear white t-shirts and bring pens to write messages on each other’s shirts. It was fun to do and while some people got in trouble for writing inappropriate phrases on the t-shirts, the idea was amazing. It was a great way of showing gratitude to our friends and especially roommates for all that they did for us throughout the trip.
Then next day was all travel, we drove back to the Bengaluru airport and flew out to Mumbai. I was again on a Vistara flight which departed from Bengaluru at 6:30PM and landed at Mumbai airport terminal 2 at 8:30PM.
To conclude, this trip was an all-around great thing for my school to arrange. It gave us a chance to bond more with close friends, make new friends, explore new places and get a taste of living independently. This trip was one of the most fun ones I have been on, and I loved it. I hope our school does something similar again and thanks for reading. Bye!