Who Are You? Family History Tours

Family History Tours imageBritain has strong historical ties to the Indian Subcontinent: Charles II received the port of Bombay as part of his wife’s wedding dowry in 1661; the British East India Company built Fort William, kickstarting the development of Calcutta, in 1698; and from 1857 Calcutta and then New Delhi were the capital cities of the British Raj, a territory stretching across almost all of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

With so many centuries of ties, economic and political as well as cultural and social, it should come as no surprise that millions of families in the UK trace at least part of their family history back to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Burma, all of which are major Indus Experiences’ destinations. For many, their family’s origins are in the subcontinent, and their parents or grandparents migrated to the UK and settled there. For others, their forefathers went to India to serve with the Indian Army, with the Indian Civil Service, or as traders, missionaries, businessmen, and in numerous other capacities. Whatever your family’s link with India, wherever in the country they lived, our family history tours can help you learn about your past, and to put it in perspective.

Sy John Church Meerut

St John’s Church, Meerut

Each of our family history tours is carefully tailored to you own family, the places your ancestors lived, studied, worked, and, in many cases, were buried. If your father or grandfather served in the Indian military, for example, you might be interested in visiting significant battlefields, such as Kohima Ridge, where 1,500 British and Indian soldiers held out for 14 days against the Japanese Imperial Army, despite being outnumbered 10:1.

Thousands of Scottish engineers came to India to design and build the country’s vast rail network — the pride of India — and the trains were the primary means of transport within the subcontinent for foreigners and Indians alike. You can retrace the journeys of your ancestors, maybe even riding on a railway line they built, when you take one of our fascinating, not to mention photogenic, railway tours.

St John Cemetery Meerut

St John’s Cemetery, Meerut

For many families, then and now, the church played a central role in family life and was a social hub for the entire community. Travel with us to Goa or Pondicherry, and not only can you have a gloriously relaxing beach stay, but you can see the Roman Catholic churches too. Up in the hill stations of Shimla, Darjeeling, and Nainital (the ‘Lake District of India’), in the foothills of the Himalayas, are numerous Anglican churches, some of them near-perfect replicas of the missionaries’ parish churches back home. The cemeteries here, often lovingly tended by the modern congregation, are the final resting places for thousands of colonial Brits who were born and lived in India.

From April 7-9, the Who Do You Think You Are, Live exhibition will take place at Birmingham’s NEC. We will be on Stand 96 in the Society of Genealogists’ area, and will also be giving a talk, entitled Names, Graves and a Letter of introduction from the British High Commission, at 16.15 on Friday 8th in Theatre 3.  We hope to see some of you there.

Upcoming Family History Tours

‘Saving Spiti’ Documentary Film Launch

Spiti documentary‘Saving Spiti’ is an outstanding documentary film about Joan Pollock and her work with the Spiti Projects charity. The film is made by Hugh Purcell – former Head of BBC Documentaries. Hugh won a BAFTA for his series with Ken Burns on the American Civil War and has taught at International Film Schools in Denmark, Cuba, India and Eastern Europe.

The photographer and editor of the documentary is the award winning Zena Merton.

Film launch details

April 12, 2016 at 7pm
Royal Geographic Society
1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR

Tickets £20.00 (Under 16’s £10)

BUY ONLINE

Doors open at 6pm with craft stall, raffle and photographic exhibition.
(Exhibiton Road entrance)

At the same time Joan is holding a photographic exhibition ‘Spiti. A Himalayan Story‘ in the Pavillion at the Royal Geographical Society from 11 April to 6 May 2016.

See also

Group Tours led by Joan Pollock

Glories of South India

A small group tour Led by Joan Pollock

From 28 January 2017 – 11 February 2017

From the architectural richness of Karnataka to the lush green Kerala and the stunning majestic temples of Tamil Nadu, this tour brings the startling contrast that is Southern India.Yet, all the facets, are bound together by a sense of history and timelessness. The stay in Sera Jey Monastry Bylakuppe is a special one arranged by Joan Pollock. Sera Jey Monastery is one of the principal seats of learning Gelugpa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Itinerary

Mahabalipuram • Madurai • Munnar • Houseboat • Cochin • Mysore • Bylakuppe • Bangalore

Day 1 – Saturday 28 Jan – To Chennai

Fly from Heathrow to Chennai on direct British Airways flight.

Day 2 – Sunday 29 Jan – Chennai

On arrival drive to the Taj Fisherman’s cove hotel. Two nights. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Chennai, including St Thomas’s Cathedral, Fort St George and St Mary’s Church.

Day 3 – Monday 30 Jan – Mahabalipuram

Drive to the World Heritage town of Mahabalipuram, with its delicate Shore Temples, series of graceful Rathas and charming carved Ajuna’s Penance. Lunch at Shore Beach Restaurant.

Day 4 – Tuesday 31 Jan – To Madurai

Morning flight to Madurai. Sightseeing tour including the bazzar and an evening visit to the Meenakshi Temple to witness the “going to bed ceremony” when the statue of Lord Shiva is carried to the chamber of his wife, Parvati, on a silver chariot. The colourful procession, accompanied by musicians, Temple singers and priests is a cacophony of sound. Two nights at the Taj Gateway Madurai.

Day 5 – Wednesday 01 Feb – To Munnar

Wonderful scenic drive through the southern Ghats to the breathtakingly beautiful hill station of Munnar. We shall visit a tea plantations, and spice garden during our time in Munnar. One night at either the Windermere or Ambady Estates.

Day 6 – Thursday 02 Feb – To Alleppy

Morning drive to Alleppey. Board the Vaikundam to spend the afternoon cruising along the Backwaters in a traditional rice boat, a Kettuvallam, now converted into a relaxing Houseboat. Overnight on an air -conditioned Houseboat.

Day 7 – Friday 03 Feb – To Cochin

Disembark after breakfast and drive to Cochin. Two nights at the Taj Malabar hotel. Evening Kathakali dance performance – arrive early to watch the dancers apply their elaborate makeup.

Day 8 – Saturday 04 Feb – In Cochin

Morning sightseeing of Cochin includes the Dutch Palace, St Francis Church, the Chinese Fishing Nets and Jewish Synagogue. Evening sunset cruise round the harbour bay.

Day 9 – Sunday 05 Feb – To Mysore

Fly to Bangalore, four hour drive to Mysore. En-route visit Srirangapatna, once the home of Hyder Ali and his son Tippu Sultan – The Tiger of Mysore. Three nights at Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel

Day 10 – Monday 06 Feb – In Mysore

Morning sightseeing tour of the lovely city of Mysore. Visits includes the Devraja market, Nandi Bull and the Mysore Royal Palace.

Day 11 – Tuesday 07 Feb – Mysore

Morning visit the superb Temple at Somnathpur built to glorify Hoysala craftsmanship. Afternoon visit to the Ranganthittoo Bird Sanctuary, which covers 209 Sq. miles. Enjoy a boat safari on the.Kaveri River accompanied by a trained naturalist.

Day 12 – Wednesday 08 Feb – To Sera Je Monastery, Bylakuppe

Drive to Bylakuppe. A two hour drive for a two nights stay at the Sera Monastery. We shall be looked after by the monks of House No 2. Experience life in a Tibetan monastery. There is also a thriving Tibetan community with fifteen settlements where Tibetan refugees are self sufficient.. Stay two nights at a Guest House on campus.

Day 13 – Thursday 09 Feb – Sera Je Monastery

Full day at the Sera Je and be shown round the extensive grounds by the monks. Observe a day in the like of a Tibetan Monk.

Day 14 – Friday 10 Feb – To Bangalore

Drive to Bangalore. Overnight in an airport hotel.

Day 15 – Saturday 11 Feb – To Heathrow

Fly to Heathrow on direct British Airways flight.

About the tour leader Joan Pollock

Joan Pollock image

I am a botanist by training, with a PhD in plant physiology and a broader interest in plant ecology. In recent years my focus has been on teaching rather than research and I have taught interdisciplinary science with the UK’s Open University, as well as whole organism biology at Durham University. Teaching at both universities has included running field trips on which students learned about assessing biodiversity, the impact of environmental factors on plant growth and processes such as succession. I am really keen to encourage people to look at how organisms interact with their environment, particularly at a time when we can see that environment changing. I would like to do this in Kasmir and Ladakh by looking at how the vegetation changes with factors such as altitude and rainfall and also at how primary succession allows the colonisation of bare ground. The Himalayas, with their natural beauty and the fact that so many British garden plants have their origins here, make an ideal location for this.

THE COST From

  • Per Person on a Double/ Twin share basis £2,845.00
  • Single room supplement £325.00

Cost Includes:

  • International & internal flights in economy class.
  • Accommodation with en-suite facilities.
  • Half Board meals throughout. Full Board arrangements in Munnar and on the Houseboat.
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a Toyota Innova Cars and Coach.
  • Entry fee to monuments and places of interest.
  • Entry fee and services of a local English speaking guide.
  • Services of Joan Pollock as Tour Leader
  • Full ATOL & ABTA bonding

Cost does not include:

  • Visa Fess for India-British passport holders can now obtain an E-Tourist Visa online.
  • Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls, beverages, gratuities etc
  • Travel Insurance.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.

Please ensure:

  • It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
  • It provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
  • It covers you for all activities.
  • Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.
  • If you are making multiple trips we recommend that you take a yearly travel insurance policy.
  • If you have any question about your cover, please check with your insurer.

For a comprehensive travel insurance quote – please click here

HOW TO BOOK THIS TOUR

If you wish to book this tour , please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £400.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Credit card payment will be charge at 2% extra. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.

Click here to download the booking form.

Read our Booking Terms and Conditions

Lakes and Mountains of Kashmir and Ladakh

A small group tour Led by Joan Pollock

03 September 2016- 14 September 2016

Dramatic snow-capped mountain peaks, their splendour dominating the lush green pastures of the valley,embrace the beautiful vale of Kashmir. Spend time relaxing on a traditional Houseboat, wander the Alpinepastures of Gulmarg and explore the beautiful gardens created by the Mughul Emperors. Then, climbing tohigh altitudes, visit the enigmatic state of Ladakh, the seat of ancient Buddhist culture. It’s wild and barren,yet, a gentle charismatic land. See magnificent Monasteries and spiralling mountain passes.

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Itinerary

London • Delhi • Leh • Srinagar • Gulmarg • Delhi • London

Day 1 Saturday – 03 September 16 – To Delhi

Depart Heathrow on direct Jet Airways flight to Delhi.

Day 2 Sunday – 04 September 16 – Delhi

Morning arrival in Delhi. Rest and relax at the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing of Old Delhi includes an enchanting cycle rickshaw ride to Jamma Masjid through bustling streets of Chandani Chowk once the centre of Mughal City –Shah Jehanabad.

Day 3 Monday – 05 September 16 – To Leh

Fly from Delhi to Leh in the morning. Transfer to Hotel Grand Dragon. Morning at leisure to rest and relax at the hotel. Afternoon walk to the Leh bazaar followed by a visit to the Shankar Gompa which housing countless statues of pure gold and a number of interesting paintings.

Day 4 Tuesday – 06 September 16 – Leh

Morning visit the Stok Royal Palace, once the official residence of the Royal family of Ladakh. The museum has an intriguing collection of Buddhist art, weapons, jewellery and artefacts. Afternoon wander round the town of Leh.

Day 5 Wednesday – 07 September 16 – Leh

Morning excursion to the 15th century beautiful Tiksey Monastery situated on a high craggy hill 18km from the town of Leh. A huge seated Maitreya Buddha statue dominates the main prayer hall. Eighty monks are still in residence.

Day 6 Thursday – 08 September 16 – Leh

Then pay a visit to SECMOL school to see the fantastic development project founded by a group of local Ladakhi volunteers with an aim to reform the educational system. Afternoon free

Day 7 Friday – 09 September 16 – To Srinagar

Morning transfer to Leh airport for your flight to Srinagar via Jammu. Transfer to Deluxe Houseboats on Nagin Lake for four nights. Afternoon Shikara ride on the lake.

Day 8 Saturday – 10 September 16 – Srinagar

Drive down to the city of Sriangar visiting Shah Hamadan Mosque- a masterpiece of wood and brick architecture then take a heritage walk through the old city of Srinagar to the fascinating local bazaar at Jamma Masjid. Return to the houseboat for lunch. Afternoon free.

Day 9 Sunday – 11 September 16 – Srinagar

Morning visit the Shankaracharya Temple, standing upon a hill with magnificent views over Srinagar and the Dal Lake. The site dates back to 2500 BC Delightful afternoon sightseeing aboard a ‘Shikara’ – the traditional Lake boat to visit Shalimar Bagh built for Nur Jehan by her husband Jehangir in 1616. Then visit Nishat Bagh and enjoy the beautiful sun-set at Pari Mahal Garden before returning to Houseboats.

Day 10 Monday – 12 September 16 – Srinagar

Morning drive to Gulmarg – “The Meadow of Flowers”. Travel through charming villages with a back drop of Himalayan mountians. Take a ride on the highest cable car in the world to view the stunning mountain scenery. Lunch at Highlands Park Return to houseboat for overnight stay. .

Day 11 Tuesday – 13 September – To Delhi

Fly from Srinagar to Delhi. Overnight stay at The Lalit Grand Hotel.

Day 12 Wednesday – 14 September – To London

Transfer to International airport for direct flight to Heathrow by direct Jet Airways flight.

About the tour leader Joan Pollock

Joan Pollock image

I am a botanist by training, with a PhD in plant physiology and a broader interest in plant ecology. In recent years my focus has been on teaching rather than research and I have taught interdisciplinary science with the UK’s Open University, as well as whole organism biology at Durham University. Teaching at both universities has included running field trips on which students learned about assessing biodiversity, the impact of environmental factors on plant growth and processes such as succession. I am really keen to encourage people to look at how organisms interact with their environment, particularly at a time when we can see that environment changing. I would like to do this in Kasmir and Ladakh by looking at how the vegetation changes with factors such as altitude and rainfall and also at how primary succession allows the colonisation of bare ground. The Himalayas, with their natural beauty and the fact that so many British garden plants have their origins here, make an ideal location for this.

THE COST FROM

  • Per Person on a Double/ Twin share basis £2,650.00
  • Single room supplement £570.00

Cost Includes:

  • International & internal flights in economy class.
  • Accommodation in Leh and on Houseboat with all meals. Breakfast only in Delhi.
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a Toyota Innova Cars and Coach.
  • Entry fee to monuments and places of interest.
  • Entry fee and services of a local English speaking guide.
  • Services of Joan Pollock as Tour Leader
  • Full ATOL & ABTA bonding.

Cost does not include:

  • Visa Fess for India- British passport holders can now obtain an E-Tourist Visa online.
  • Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls, beverages, gratuities etc
  • Travel Insurance.

Travel Insurance

It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.

Please ensure:

  • It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
  • It provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
  • It covers you for all activities.
  • Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.
  • If you are making multiple trips we recommend that you take a yearly travel insurance policy.
  • If you have any question about your cover, please check with your insurer.

For a comprehensive travel insurance quote – please click here

How to book this tour

If you wish to book this tour , please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £400.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Credit card payment will be charge at 2% extra. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.

Click here to download the booking form.

Read our Booking Terms and Conditions

Rocks, Routes and Shoots

Itinerary

London • Delhi • Srinagar • Sonamarg • Kargil • Leh • London

Day 1 – Sat 30 July 2016

Depart London Heathrow by direct British Airways* for Delhi.

*Departures from Manchester and upgrade to world Traveller plus and club class are available on request.

P6250017Day 2 – Sun 31 July 2016

Arrive Delhi , connect flight to Srinagar (altitude 1730 m). Lunch on the houseboat and afternoon enjoying the ambience of life on a houseboat. Late afternoon Shikara ride on Nagin Lake. Stay on houseboats in Nagin Lake.

Day 3 – Mon 1 August 2016

Srinagar. Visit Pari Mahal and Shalimar Mughul gardens and enjoy lunch in at Cheshma Shahi Gardens. Introduction to the main themes of the tour late afternoon (on the houseboat).

Day 4 – Tue 2 August 2016

Srinagar. Day trip to Khunamuh (Guryul Ravine) to look at sedimentary rocks of the Permian /Triassic boundary and the basic volcanic rocks of the Panjal Traps. Introduction to the factors which affect plant growth – altitude, nutrients, grazing etc. and to survey techniques.

Day 5 – Wed 3 August 2016

Srinagar to Sonamarg. Morning in Dachigam National Park and bear sanctuary to see a mix of familiar and more exotic plants and animals. Picnic lunch by the Sindh river then drive to Sonamarg (altitude 2800 m) after lunch, noting the changing geology (Quaternary sediments, Panjal Traps, Triassic limestone etc.) and ecology. Stay at Sindh Resorts Sonamarg.

P6290168Day 6 – Thur 4 August 2016

Sonamarg. Walk to Thajiwas glacier, observing typical glacial features. Look at lichens as a link between geology and ecology. Compare the ecology here with that seen in Srinagar, particularly amongst the rocks above the snow pocket. A first look at plant pollination.

Day 7 – Fri 5 August 2016

Sonamarg to Kargil (altitude 2676 m). Drive across the spectacular Zoji La pass (3528 m), looking at diverse geology en route – includes highly deformed Triassic limestone, metamorphic rocks of the Zanskar Crystalline, basic volcanic rocks of Panjal and Drass, granitic rocks of Kargil igneous complex and Indus Molasse. Survey the vegetation in the meadow at Matayin to compare it with that at Guryul. Stay at Highlands Mountain and Spa Resort.

Day 8 – Sat 6 August 2016

Kargil to Nurla. Drive to Nurla via Shergol valley and monastery and the Buddha at Mulbek. Cross the Namika La (3718 m) and Fatu La (4108m) passes, taking in the rocks of the Indus Suture Zone (ISZ). Visit Lamayuru monastery, with panoramic views of the sediments of the now-empty paleolake (‘Moonland’). Descend to Nurla (altitude 3040 m) for overnight stay in Apricot Tree Hotel.

Day 9 – Sun 7 August 2016

Nurla to Leh. Time to relax at Nurla before visiting the rock-cut Tibetan Buddhist temples at Saspol with their 13-15th Century wall paintings. Look at geology en route to Leh (altitude 3524 m), including the confluence of Zanskar and Indus rivers. Possible free time in Leh late afternoon. Stay at Caravan Centre Hotel

Day 10 – Mon 8 August 2016

Leh. Visit Thiksey monastery and Shey palace, getting close up and bird’s eye views of the rocks of the Ladakh Batholith on which they sit. Free time in Leh in afternoon.

P7030475Day 11 – Tue 9 August 2016

Leh. Visit Hemis monastery, sitting on the Indus Molasse, in the morning. Stop to look at contact between the Indus Molasse and Ladakh Batholith (Karu) en route. Look at lichens growing on the rocks below the monastery and take a walk after lunch to look at the high altitude vegetation and spectacular rock formations of the peaks in Hemis National Park.

Day 12 – Wed 10 August 2016

Leh to Tso Moriri. Leave after an early breakfast for Tso Moriri high altitude lake (4500 m), via the hot springs at Chumathang and Puga. Observe changing geology and how vegetation changes with altitude and other factors. Stay in tented camps.

Day 13 – Thur Fri 11 August 2016

Day at leisure in Tso Moriri

Day 14 – Fri 12 August 2016

Tso Moriri to Leh. Drive back to Leh via Tso Kar salt lake and the Taglang La pass (5303 m). Stay at Caravan Centre Hotel.

Day 15 – Sat 13 August 2016

Fly from Leh to Delhi. Day free in Delhi. Overnight stay in Hotel Royal Plaza.

Day 16 – Sun 14 August 2016

Fly back to London Heathrow by direct British Airways flight.

About the tour leaders Heather & John

Image of Heather KellyHeather Kelly

I am a botanist by training, with a PhD in plant physiology and a broader interest in plant ecology. In recent years my focus has been on teaching rather than research and I have taught interdisciplinary science with the UK’s Open University, as well as whole organism biology at Durham University. Teaching at both universities has included running field trips on which students learned about assessing biodiversity, the impact of environmental factors on plant growth and processes such as succession. I am really keen to encourage people to look at how organisms interact with their environment, particularly at a time when we can see that environment changing. I would like to do this in Kasmir and Ladakh by looking at how the vegetation changes with factors such as altitude and rainfall and also at how primary succession allows the colonisation of bare ground. The Himalayas, with their natural beauty and the fact that so many British garden plants have their origins here, make an ideal location for this.

Read my blog

Image of John MacGillivray John Macgillivray

Currently I am a part time science tutor at the Open University with over 20 years experience of teaching undergraduate, general science modules. This has including a senior tutor role at OU Residential Schools, leading geology/ecology field trips and similar independently led field trips. I have previously worked in the UK Meteorological Office and National Engineering Laboratory (UK). I hold a first class honours degree in Earth science and a degree equivalent in Physics. Recently I have carried out published research work with Professor Ray MacDonald (Lancaster University/ University of Warsaw) and Professor B. Bagiński (University of Warsaw) on the Tertiary dyke systems of Southern Scotland and NE England, adding to previous jointly published research work I have carried out.

The Cost From

Per Person on a Double/ Twin share basis £2,590.00

Single room supplement £490.00

Cost Includes:

  • International air fare in economy class on British Airways.
  • Internal flights from Delhi to Srinagar and Leh-Delhi in economy class.
  • Accommodation with private facilities on twin, double sharing and single room basis as per the itinerary.
  • Meal Plan- All meals in Kashmir and Ladakh, Daily breakfast and dinner in Delhi.
  • All transfers and sightseeing by an air-conditioned coach in Delhi and Toyota Innova cars in Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Sightseeing arrangements with our local experts as mentioned in the itinerary and local English speaking guides at other places.
  • Entry fee at monuments and places of interest.
  • Services of Heather Kelly (Ecologist) and John Macgillivray (Geologist).
  • Full ATOL & ABTA bonding.
  • Complimentary mineral water while on board for Coach Travel.

Cost does not include:

  • Visa fee for India. E-Tourist visa fee currently is £40.00 approx.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Any expense of a personal nature

How to book this tour

If you wish to book this tour , please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £400.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Credit card payment will be charge at 2% extra. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.

Click here to download the booking form

Read our Booking Terms and Conditions