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Alumni College Abroad Journeys to India

40a_TajAlumniCollege.jpgThe 22 travelers on Swarthmore’s Alumni College Abroad journey to India in March visited the Taj Mahal (right) and the Red Fort complex of Agra on the banks of the sacred Yamuna River and explored many other sites such as the Jama Masjid, the expansive Mughal period open-air Friday Mosque in old Delhi; Akbar’s Fatepur Sikri, a 16th-century city of red sandstone built in a mixture of Hindu and Muslim styles; the Hawa Mahal or “Palace of the Winds” in Jaipur; the Chandela Temple Complex in Khajuraho; and Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism. They spent a memorable evening and dawn on a boat rowing past the bathing ghats and temples that line the shore of the holy Ganga river in Varanasi. They rode elephants to Amer Fort in Jaipur and camels to a Meena village in rural Rajasthan; saw a Bengal tiger in the Ranthambore Tiger Preserve, a 512-square-mile natural preserve and the former hunting grounds of the Maharajah of Jaipur; and heard a sitar performance by master Benarsi musician Deobrat Mishra. Faculty tour guide Steven Hopkins, professor of religion, gave presentations on Hindu, Buddhist, and Sufi traditions, including readings from Sanskrit, Pali, and Urdu poetry and examples of qawwali, the ecstatic songs of Sufi saints. Participants arrived home with a tremendous appreciation of the ancient and contemporary wonder that is India.

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