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On the READ to INDIA and the HIMALAYAS!

July 30, 2021 by Maria Cleary

Welcome back! We are On the Read, a short series of blog posts all about travel. Together, we have set off on an adventure across continents and oceans, through the pages of our favourite Helbling Readers, extending our steps both in space and in time. We are on a journey to six major destinations, doing some sight-seeing, learning about culture and getting some travel tips.

Our first destination was London. From London, we travelled to Italy and visited Venice and Rome. From these European cities we travel to Asia and explore India and the Himalayas.

Travel tip: if you cannot do this project over the holidays, plan it for the next semester or year, as a reading club or extensive reading project.

1 The destination

Our third destinations will be magical India and the Himalayas, and we have decided to follow the steps of the characters in two classics by Rudyard Kiping, Mowgli’s Brothers (from The Jungle Book) and Kim, and the original story The Kingdom of the Snow Leopard by Elspeth Rawstron.

India is a dream destination for its culture, art, architecture, nature and of course its cuisine. Although it is a distant country for many of us, and right now travel might be difficult, exploring India through books and films is a great solution. Visiting India also creates an opportunity to talk about Indian and British history and how they are connected.

What are the first things that come to your students’ mind when they think about India? Here is a tip. Introduce the idea of cultural diversity to your students, and remind them about how many different religions, languages and cultures coexist in India.

Activity 1: Do a quick brainstorming session about India and the Himalayas. Then, collect all the information your students already know. 

Activity 2: Discuss the following questions to learn more about India and the Himalayas.

  • What is the capital of India?
  • Which are the largest cities in India?
  • What other countries and oceans surround India?
  • What is the population of India?
  • What is the currency of India?
  • What are the official languages of India?
  • How many other languages are spoken there?
  • Find out about the climate. It’s important to know what to pack when you visit India and the Himalayas. What would you need to wear as you travel through your destination?
  • Which countries do the Himalayas cross?
  • What endangered animals live in India and the Himalayas?
2 Getting there and getting around

First, find out about the major international airports in India. If you want to travel around the country, you need to have a clear idea of where you will land and where you want to get from there.

The real journey in India begins with a train ride. We often see images of India trains and they appear in many films and novels. Some trains are crowded and others are luxurious. How do you imagine a train ride across the country?

In preparation for this discussion, we recommend an article which discusses different train rides and the Indian Railway info website.

How about getting around in cities? What are the most typical means of transport? Check out three different types of transportation: rickshaws, tempos and buses.

3 Three readers that take you to India and the Himalayas

These three stories show you different faces of India and the Himalayas. In Mowgli’s Brothers you get to visit the Indian jungle and become familiar with its wildlife. In Kim, you visit Indian cities and experience travelling by train or on foot. The Kingdom of the Snow Leopard takes us to the Himalayas and shows us life in an isolated country.

4 Top sights to visit in India 

It is hard to choose only a couple of places to visit in any country, and it is especially difficult in India given its size and diversity. India has fascinating architecture and art, and it also has stunning natural reserves and beaches. We tried to pick our favourite sights to visit. Ask your students to find out about them. Which ones would they like to visit? First, ask them to look for images of these places, and then they can find out about their location and essential information about them. 

Browse this website for more ideas: Incredible India

  • Taj Mahal
  • Amber Fort
  • The Red Fort
  • The Golden City
  • The Holy City of Varanasi
  • Munnar
  • Wayanard
  • Shillong
  • Goa
  • Gokarna

Here’s an extra tip: Watch this video from the Incredible India website, about daily life in sub-continent.

Top literary sights to visit

Instead of offering literary places to visit, we recommend getting to know India through the works of Indian and British authors. Here are five stories and five films we recommend.


  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  • Small Days and Nights by Tishani Doshi
  • A Passage to India by E. M. Forster


  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • Life of Pi
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey
6 Indian words in English 

Check out the meaning of these words which are from Indian origin. Can you add to the list?

  • avatar
  • bungalow
  • cheetah
  • chutney
  • guru
  • jungle
  • pyjamas
  • shampoo
  • veranda
  • yoga
7 The Helbling Readers Blog Trip in India

In India, we are inviting you on a road trip, not simply a day trip. Pack your bags and buy some train tickets. Let’s explore India by following Kim’s footsteps. First we visit Lahore and find the Lahore Museum. But have you noticed that Lahore is not in India anymore? Where will you find it? From there, we step on the Grand Trunk Road, just like Kim did. However, instead of travelling on foot and in a horse-drawn cart, we take a train. We travel to Ambala on the Indian-Pakistani border. From here we continue our journey to the seven hills of Simla.

Here are some tips to learn more about this short but exciting journey: 

  • What is special about the Grand Trunk Road? How long is it? How old is it?
  • How long does it take to travel from Ambala to Simla?
  • What does it mean that Simla was the summer capital of British India?

More travel tips:

  • Find out about the location of Mowgli’s jungle on this map:
  • Would it be possible to find this jungle today? 
  • In The Kingdom of the Snow Leopard, two students travel to Kathmandu in Nepal. Plan an imaginary trip from your home to Kathmandu.
8 Extra project: Taste India

India is famous for its cuisine. What are the most popular Indian dishes in your country? Do you have a favourite Indian dish? How different are different dishes in different parts of India? What are the most typical spices used in Indian meals? Do some research and share your answers with the others.

India is also a major exporter of coffee and tea. What are the most famous teas that come from India?

Next destination

Next time we head towards the United States of America. Get ready by reading one of these books:


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