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India Day 3: Serenity and Chaos



Today we left Delhi and on our way out of town, we stopped by one of the most famous buildings in India: the Lotus Temple.

This beautiful temple is the place of worship for a universal religion that accepts everyone. Not only did the perfect symmetry and modern architecture impress me from the outside, but the inside blew my mind as well. Inside, everything was very simple. The only things found were chairs, a podium for the speaker, and an echoing voice. One person would stand at the podium at a time and either say a prayer or sing. The words, especially the singing, rung through the temple and bounced off every wall, filling every space and corner of the room. It was amazing to hear such a large room vibrate and be filled with so much noise that came from only a single voice. When the singing would stop, there was only silence. For as filled with noise the room was before, it was just as empty with silence. Those 15 minutes we sat inside were probably the most relaxed and calm I had felt the entire trip.

If I had to describe the wonders of the Lotus Temple in only a few words, it was like a distraction-free vacuum designed for meditation.

After leaving the Lotus Temple, we continued our way out of town and drove about 4 hours to Agra.

Here, we visited the Taj Mahal which is even more amazing of a spectacle and much, much older than the temple this morning.

Similar to the Lotus Temple, the Taj Mahal is completely symmetrical from all sides. It is an amazing and grand structure which pictures can not grasp the beauty of.

We decided to take a look inside the Taj Mahal which was definitely not our greatest idea….

We had to wait in line for entry, and the closer we got to the entrance, the closer everyone became. Soon, I had people pressed against me on all sides and I wasn’t even voluntarily moving my own legs forward; I was just being pushed forward. This continued for about 15 minutes, through the door, around the two tombs inside, and out the door on the side. I would call that trip through the Taj Mahal chaotic, but I’m not even sure that word fully encompasses the entire experience.

It has been extremely hot here in India these last few days, but I can say that after I got out of that hoard of people, the 100° air outside felt refreshing and cool.

That isn’t to say the inside isn’t beautiful and impressive, but it definitely doesn’t compare to the outside.

One thing I’ve found really funny and entertaining throughout this trip is that each one of us in our group has had people come up and ask to take photos with us. And once one person comes up, another gets the idea and asks again for photo after photo. It can get pretty crazy and overwhelming when people keep taking photos; sometimes we just have to walk away and say we have to go, apologetically.

A lot of times, we don’t ask for a photo in return, but we really wanted a cute selfie with these adorable kids.

Another thing that amazes me about this whole trip in general is the colors, especially of the clothing. Colors that would stand out in a crowd in the United States just blend in here because everyone is wearing such bright and beautiful clothing. This man’s turban was too fun not to take a picture of.

Back at the hotel, we looked out the window and noticed a gorgeous view of the Taj Mahal.

Today wasn’t a day filled with seeing many different sights, but what we did see completely took my breath away. From the silence and serenity of the Lotus Temple to the grandeur and chaos of the Taj Mahal, I loved every minute of it. Not only was today a glimpse of some more of the architecture of India, but another glimpse and better understanding of the people as well.

Everything I have loved about this trip, all of its ups and downs, serene and chaotic moments, and it’s true wonders, all comes back to the people. Watching the awe, joy, respect, and excitement of not only the people of India but my own group as well has made me realize how amazing of an opportunity this actually is. I am so grateful for the experience to be here, more aware of a whole different way of living and interacting and appreciating a diverse history and culture that isn’t even my own. I hope that the rest of the trip continues to be just as eye-opening as it has been so far.



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