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June 8th 2009
Published: June 9th 2009
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We arrived in Nagpur India in midday, about one. We flew on Kingfisher Airlines, which was a fun flight, with a beautiful view. The first thing we did was go out to lunch to Shamaar's, a mid sized curry filled restaurant. We had traditional curry chicken salad, along with aloo paratha bread and kulfi, a sweet dessert dish.

Our second day there we signed up for an India educational course called 'History of India's trouble'
They talked about when India was ruled by England in the eighteen hundreds, and their fight to regain freedom. We learned about how peaceful India is, they have never invaded any country in her last 10000 years. One of the most important days for each Indian citizen is 15th August, it was on this date that India was declared a free and independent nation in 1947.

After we finished our class we went to see the Manas national park. Here we experienced the largest population of tigers among Indian reserves. We also saw the rare golden langur. There were also the rhino, wild buffalos, elephants, gaur, swamp deer, capped langur and clouded leopard. The main highlight was the giant hornbill, which is a large bird with a weirdly shaped beak. It goes into the foothills of Bhutan where it is called the Royal Manas National Park.

The Giant Hornbill

After the zoo we took a trip to India's most famous attraction, Taj Mahal. It is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world. Taj Mahal was built by a Muslim, Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife, the queen Mumtaz Mahal. It was constructed over a period of twenty-two years, employing twenty thousand workers. It was completed in 1648 C.E. The streets around it were full with locals and tourists alike, and heavily guarded with law enforcers.

Next we traveled to Haji Ali Mosque, the tomb is said to be of a Muslim saint who died while on pilgrimage to Mecca. It is believed that a casket containing his mortal remains floated and came to rest on a rocky bed in the sea, where devotees constructed the tomb and mosque.

Our choices of tours to take in India were quite limited, because most tours last over a week and travel deep into Indian forests and are led by Buddhist spiritual leaders.

We then joined a small tour led by a man named, Hashab, visiting local statues and art. Our first stop was at the 'High Court' which is a building built in 1878 in the early English Gothic style, it is surrounded by statues representing Justice and Mercy. Next we rode a bus down to the Jain Temple which was built in marble in 1904; the shrine is dedicated to Adinath, the first apostle. The walls of the temple are adorned with colorful paintings showing various incidents in the lives of the 24 apostles of the Jain religion. On the first floor is a special shrine dedicated to someone named Parsvanath carved out of black marble and the ceiling shows the different planets as personified in Hindu mythology.

Inside the Jain Temple

The next day we visited the National Museum, in New Delhi, it has over 2,00,000 works of traditional art, both of Indian and Foreign origin covering more than 5,000 years of India's heritage. The museum has Harappan Civilisation art, Budist art, Archaeology, Miniture Indian sculptures. Then, we walked down a couple blocks to a DanceIndia! dancefest. Traditional Indian dances represent the three best-known deities, Shiva, Kali and Krishna. There are hundreds of Indian folk dances. The first type of dance we saw was one done by the Shaivites, who worship the Lord Shiva. Their dances are eant to be full of beauty, grace, love and all tender aspects of existence. Another popular dance is the Kathakali. The name means story-play and is an elaborate dance showing the victory of truth over falsehood.
A noticable feature of Kathakali is the use of elaborate make-up and colourful costumes. This is to emphasize that the characters are from another world, and their make-up is easily recognisable to the trained eye as godlike, heroic, and demonic.


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