Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sumit Raghuvanshi - Exploring Delhi and Shimla

Coming to India was not my first foray into the Subcontinent. I have visited this nation numerous times, but usually with family, and never as a student. I landed in Mumbai, to attend a family wedding. However, after the wedding I went to New Delhi, and without the comforts of having family around with me, Delhi was as new of a city to me as to the rest of the majority of the students. Although a bit scary, there were new sights, sounds, smells, and not to mention the heat. After my first night in Delhi, a group of us ventured around the city amidst the 100 plus degree heat. But we went to different sights and saw impressive monuments. Although impressive and grand, what impressed me more was exploring the city by foot.

The program may have began in Delhi, but the purpose of the program was to study in Shimla. Delhi is a huge city, hot, sticky, and polluted; however, as we ventured across the country to Shimla, 14 hours by bus might I add, we all saw a changing landscape. It was in Shimla that I saw a new part of India. Shimla, a city in the mountains with forests covering the landscape was absolutely beautiful. Across the mountain there were buildings, bazaars and temples. Prof. Artusio put it best when she said that Shimla looks as if a fairy sprinkled the mountainside with gems. Currently, I have visited only a fraction of the city, but from what I have seen so far, I can tell that Shimla is a caring, warm, loving city.

Although Shimla is a holiday city for most Indians trying to escape the heat, for us students in the India 2010 Summer Abroad Program Shimla means school. Classes are interesting. Although there are mostly American students, and each has unique perspectives, we also have some Indian students joining us. This rich diversity, for me at least, allows me to improve my perspective. As an attorney, it is our responsibility, in part, to interpret the law, and seeing different interpretations is fascinating. I just hope that they are enjoying learning from us as much as we are learning from them.

Outside of class, I am exploring the city. Yesterday, I went to the Jakhu Mandir, whose principal god is Hanuman. Hanuman’s has monkey features, and as such his Mandir (or temple) is surrounded by monkeys. The temple is situated at the very top of a mountain, and the path to get there, although paved, is steep. Safe to say, that if you reach the Summit, you also get a decent workout. Being a Hindu, going to the Mandir had another critical feature in that I am learning more about the vastness of my religion.

My trek to the Mandir was a little more difficult because I had to hide my glasses. We were told that monkeys steal people’s glasses in exchange for food. When I got to the actual Mandir I could see the surroundings. The temple is laid out at the top of mountain surrounded by forests. The entire landscape is utterly beautiful and quiet, something that is rare in the cities. There are actually two temples there: one is a small temple, but the other is at the very top, and surrounding it are corridors. I had to hide my glasses again, but from what I could see there were monkeys to my left and to my right. There were monkeys all around me, staring at me; the baby monkeys wanted to play. Safe to say, it was a little bit creepy. But to see the actual Hanuman Mandir at the top was well worth the fear of the monkeys. I won’t describe the top, but it is a must see.

By Sumit Raghuvansh, Student, Touro Law Summer Abroad Program in India 2010

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