Our friendly and welcoming staff are as diverse as the Indian subcontinent. From residents of the southern shores of the Kerala Backwaters to families in the northern peaks of the Ladakhi Himalayas, our full-time and part-time staff have been bringing a wealth of local knowledge to our high school, Gap Year and private group trips since 2005.
We custom design our Journeys to meet your school’s requirements, so please contact us to discuss the type of experience you are looking for. As a general guide, here are some of the potential elements of your Journey through India:
Rustic Pathways has developed various long-term partnerships with communities and local organisations in India. Some of our service projects that you could support include:
Tutoring refugees: You will be paired up with a recent Tibetan refugee to teach grammar, reading, writing, and conversational English. As an international language, English is a very important skill for communication and employment and these students are eager to learn.
Community development projects: Work together with locals on light construction work surrounding the village.
River clean up: Help a local environmental organisation with a river clean up near town.
Balla Village: This volunteer work will consist of working in the fields with the villagers, assisting with basic construction projects selected by the village, and spending time at a nearby school for students with special needs.
Schools & sports: Engage with kids while playing cricket or football in the mountain village school of Balla.
Sloth Bear Conservation: Work with Wildlife SOS to improve the lives of rescued sloth bears in Agra. Learn all about sloth bear conservation, human and wildlife conflicts, and the story of the dancing sloth bears in India. Help build structures, monitor bear behaviour, and work on other Wildlife SOS projects. In addition to your responsibilities with the bears, you’ll have an opportunity to check out the elephant rescue facility as well, where you will feed, bathe, and walk the elephants, and clean their pens.
Experience the fullness of life in India, from crowded streets of Delhi to the peaceful backwaters of Kerala. Feel the positive energy of the Dalai Lama as you climb through the mystical mountain ranges of the McLeod Ganj province and bask in the stunning beauty of the mighty Himalayas. You may like to incorporate some of the following experiences into your Journey:
McLeod Ganj: Enjoy some cool fresh mountain air in the village of McLeod Ganj – home to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Explore the town on a scavenger hunt, meet with a Tibetan poet and activist, and learn more about the situation in Tibet while doing kora, a meditative walk, at His Holiness’ monastery.
Buddhism: Have a guest lecture on Buddhism and get to try your hand at meditation! Visualize yourself as Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of compassion.
Political Prisoners: Meet a former political prisoner and hear his life story, a powerful experience that you can share with family and friends when you arrive back home.
Norbulingka Institute: See firsthand local artisans who are preserving Tibetan culture through painting, sculpting, carving, and transcribing sacred texts.
Karmapa: Have the opportunity to meet with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa! Born in Tibet but escaped to India in the early 2000’s, the Karmapa’s new home is just south of Balla. Get blessed by the Karmapa and if you are lucky you may have a chance to ask a few questions as well.
Discover Delhi: Head to a restaurant for some delicious Punjabi food and debrief your experience on the scavenger hunt. After lunch, spend the afternoon touring this bustling capital city. Learn about Gandhi at a museum housed in the same building where his life ended, explore Sikh religion at Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, and take in the famous India Gate and parliament.
Religions galore: Understand the mix of religions as you visit Hindu temples, Sikh gurudwaras, Islamic mosques, and a Jewish synagogue.
Photo Expeditions: Explore the Himalayan region with local guides as well as photography professionals who will lead you to some of the most beautiful locations this Land of High Mountain Passes is known for. At more than 11,500 feet above sea level you hone your photography skills and meet nomadic tribes and live like a local.
Adventure and challenge is inherent to every Journey, however, if you are looking to physically challenge your students through a specific activity, you may opt to include:
Yoga classes: Be apart of a yoga class to practice your asanas and pranayama and feel the energy that this mountain escape has to offer.
Agra: Visit the highlight of India, the Taj Mahal! Experience the magic of the Taj Mahal at sunrise, then head to Agra Fort to learn about the Mughal dynasty and the emperor who built the Taj.
Palace elephant ride: Take an elephant ride to the famous Amber Fort Palace. Explore within the well-protected walls of the palace and see the secret caves that were used by former royalty to escape when the palace came under attack by invading armies hundreds of years ago.
Sunset cruise in Kerala state: Enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise through the Arabian Sea. Savour some of the local seafood delicacies as the sun paints colours across the sky.
Munnar Tea: Munnar was the British government’s summer resort in South India and is famous as one of South India’s most beautiful tea plantations! Enjoy a plantation tour to learn the colourful and fascinating story behind growing and making tea, then sample more than ten varieties of the teas that are locally grown.
Rajasthani Dancers: Spend an evening getting an elaborate Mehndi designs inked on your hand and watch arts show where you’ll see traditional Rajasthani dancers and musicians put on a dazzling performance! Get your dancing shoes ready because you’ll be the next to dance!
There are various accommodation options that we can offer in India; it depends on how “rustic” you would like your Journey to be.
Hotels: A variety of 3, 4 & 5 star hotels in cities and towns
Homestays: Students can truly immerse themselves in a Himalayan village where they live with an Indian or Tibetan homestay family.
Guesthouses/resorts: The most comfortable style of accommodation when in smaller towns and remote areas.
Houseboat: Situated on Vembanad Lake, one of the largest lakes of India, students can live on a traditional Ketuvallam houseboat. Life on the boat is comfortable, with spacious bedrooms, a great lounge area, bathrooms, and delicious, healthy meals prepared by local chefs to make each day a real treat!
Please chat to us if you have any special requests that you would like included in your Journey. There is nothing too big, small, or out-of-the-box that we can’t handle.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start designing your Journey! We would be delighted to partner with your school to support the global education of your students.