PMGY volunteer in India participants are based in Faridabad, a satellite city of Delhi located In the National Capital Region of New Delhi. Just 25km from Delhi, volunteers are far enough away to enjoy a quieter setting (by Indian standards!) but close enough to absorb all the magic, mystery and mayhem that Delhi has to offer.
Faridabad is a comfortable, well-connected location to live and work in. There are a few tourist spots worth a visit – Baba Farid’s tomb, Badhkal Lake and Raja Nahar Singh Palace. There are also some interesting temples as well as markets and shopping malls, including a cinema if you fancy going to see some Bollywood flicks!
Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.
Delhi is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, home to 25 million people. Despite this, it’s a relatively easy city to find your way around and has a cheap and efficient metro. The city is split into two parts: Old Delhi, a 17th Century walled city with narrow alleys, constant traffic and main tourist sites, and the spacious, planned areas of New Delhi. Old Delhi is littered with relics of lost empires like the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, the largest in India, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people!
The magical allure of the Taj Mahal draws tourists to Agra like moths to a wondrous flame. It is widely considered to be the most beautiful building in the world. The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. The death of Mumtaz left the emperor so heartbroken that his hair is said to have turned grey virtually overnight. Construction of the Taj began the following year and completed 22 years later. Shortly after, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son.
JAIPUR - PINK CITY
Jaipur, the vibrant capital of Rajasthan is popularly known as the ‘Pink City’ for its trademark building colour in the wonderful old city. This buzzing metropolis is a place of wild contrasts and is a feast for the eyes. Vegetable-laden camel carts thread their way through streets jam-packed with cars, cows, rickshaws, bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians frantically dodging the incessant traffic. In the center of Jaipur stands the opulent, colonnaded City Palace complex with gardens, courtyards and museums, and part of it is still a royal residence.
JAISALMER - GOLDEN CITY
The fort of Jaisalmer is a breathtaking sight: a massive sandcastle rising from the sandy plains like a mirage from a bygone era. No place better evokes exotic camel-train trade routes and desert mystery. Ninety-nine bastions encircle the fort’s still-inhabited twisting lanes. Inside are shops swaddled in bright embroideries and a royal palace as well as restaurants and places to stay. Jaisalmer is one of Rajasthan’s star attractions where you can enjoy a sunset camel ride before dinner under the stars and an overnight stay at a tented desert camp.
One of Hinduism’s seven holy cities, Varanasi is one of the most blindingly colourful, unrelentingly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet places on earth and it may just turn out to be your most memorable stop. Varanasi has the finest river frontage in India, with miles of ghats, or steps, for religious bathing; an array of shrines, temples, and palaces rises tier on tier from the water’s edge. Also known as the Kashi (City of Life) pilgrims come to the River Ganges here to wash away a lifetime of sins in the sacred waters or cremate their loved ones.
There are several amazing weekend trips to get involved in during your time with PMGY in India. Travelling over the weekends is a huge part of the experience as it gives you the opportunity to explore the country with fellow volunteers on the program.
With PMGY volunteers being based in an urban environment and near the capital city of Delhi, they are usually able to organise trips independently without the need for our team to travel with them. For example, you have good train, bus and if required, road links to allow you to travel freely and flexibility across northern India. As a result, participants prefer the flexibility and cheaper method of travel independently. To arrange a more private trip with our team would be expensive and based on experience, volunteers prefer the freedom of being by themselves. Our team can always point you in the right direction and help to organise any transport and accommodation you may require during your trip.
We have outlined a couple of popular weekend trip options to give you an idea of some of the trips you can get involved in during your time with us. We recommend participants do not make any firm commitments until they arrive in India as participants will usually travel in a group and our team are a great resource to help you make plans!
DHARAMSHALA WEEKEND TRIP
INCLUDES - TRANSPORT & ACCOMMODATION
Dharamshala is located high in the mountains of the Himachal Pradesh of the Western Himalayas. Most famously known as the home of the Dalai Lama, the region is famed for its large Tibetan community that is centred around the activities of the spiritual leader.
Dharamshala boasts stunning views, from the colourful houses lining its shallower hills, to snow-topped towering mountains and thick deodar cedar trees. Compared to the craziness of Delhi, this hill-station provides a surprising and welcome change. The region is blessed with crisp mountain breeze, meaning a trip here quite literally provides you with a breath of fresh air compared to the chaos of the city. This weekend trip offers the perfect opportunity to rest, recuperate and explore after a busy week at project back in and around India’s bustling capital.
DAY ONE - ARRIVAL INTO DHARAMSHALA
Upon arrival, you will drop your bags off at your hostel and have the opportunity to purchase some breakfast before officially beginning your adventure. After refuelling, the rest of the day is yours!
The relaxing and serene atmosphere of Dharamshala is often mirrored by a ‘take each day as it comes’ attitude. Rather than engaging in a series of pre-set activities, volunteers visiting Dharamshala have the freedom to explore how they wish. Some ideas of what you can engage in during your time include visiting the markets, Bhagsu Waterfall and the Tibetan Museum. Alternatively, choose to enjoy a cooking lesson, go trekking or pay a visit to the Tsuglagkhang Complex.
DAY TWO - LET THE ADVENTURE CONTINUE
We have only outlined a handful of exciting and cultural activities and sites on offer in Dharamshala. You will also find several tourist services across the town to further assist you in your plans.
Any of the activities that you could not complete during day one can be completed on day two. Whether it be a more relaxing approach by taking up a cooking lesson or a more adventurous approach heading to Bhagsu waterfall, Dharamshala is your oyster.
DAY THREE - BACK TO FARIDABAD
It’s been a weekend not to forget! The coach back to Faridabad typically leaves in the evening, giving you the morning to grab a final breakfast overlooking the Himalayas. You may use the day to pick-up some final handicrafts or some Tibetan Momos for the evening ahead. The approximate 10 hour drive should have you back by 5am the next day.
GOLDEN TRIANGLE WEEKEND TRIP
INCLUDES - PRIVATE TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, ALL MEALS & ENTRANCE FEES
India’s Golden Triangle is the highlight of any trip to India. Agra and Jaipur are two very different cities, each offering a unique experience. Over the summer months, PMGY will be once again running our 3 day/2 night Golden Triangle Trip.
DAY ONE - JAIPUR, THE PINK CITY
After an early breakfast, we drive to Batukaru Temple. Located at the base of Mount Batukaru, this ancient Balinese Temple boasts a variety of shrines, protected by tiered roofs. As we continue our journey onto Ubud we will next visit the Jatiluwih Rice Terrace. This area is a famous tourist attraction for beautiful rice terraces and has been designed with exquisite beauty in its hollowing rice field.
The final stop of the day is Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, a magnificent water temple complex. After admiring the striking temple with its accompanying ponds and gardens, it’s time to put on a traditional sarong and sash, and head to the Holy Spring to take part in a blessing ceremony.
DAY TWO - EXPLORING JAIPUR, STAIRWELL & TEMPLES
We will begin at Charan Mandir, an ancient Hindu temple, dedicated to the honour of Lord Krishna. Built like a mini fortress, the temple was created before Jaipur was even established. It is believed that Lord Krishna once stepped through the grounds of the temple! Not only does this temple represent a significant place of worship, but it also offers a stunning panoramic view of the city and surrounding forests.
Our second stop of the day is to Chand Baori Stepwell. This landmark is believed to be one of the oldest, and most picturesque in the region. Stepwells are pond-type structures, encased within a staircase enclosure. They are a type of storage tank, created with an intention to manage seasonal fluctuations in water availability by conserving water. Our final stop in Jaipur is Jagat Shiromani Temple, another Hindu temple, this time dedicated to the Hindu Gods of not only Krishna but Meera bai and Vishnu. We will then travel to the historic city of Agra in the evening.
DAY THREE - THE TAJ MAHAL & AGRA FORT
The Taj Mahal is the undoubted sightseeing highlight of any trip to India. We’ll be up bright and early as we make our way to the Taj Mahal for sunrise. An English speaking guide will teach you all about the story which inspired the building of the Taj Mahal and the tragedy involved in creating it.
We will then spend the spend the rest of the day exploring Agra Fort and its historic fort. The Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site not to be missed and is more informally described as ‘the walled city’.