India 2013 / by William Bryan

In the spring of 2013 my graduating class of 14 traveled to India. We had several reasons for going to India. First, we had worked for months to get an interview with the 14th Dalai Lama, who is living in exile in Dharamsala. Second, my high school was founded by a Hindu Yogi (Baba Hari Dass) that also founded an orphanage called the Sri Ram Ashram in Haridwar; so my school has been connected with India from the very beginning. Lastly, who wouldn’t want to go to India for your senior year Spring Break?

Unfortunately, for some key moments of the trip (interviewing the Dalai Lama, exploring Dharamsala, and riding a rikshaw through Old Delhi) I was too in the moment to remember to take photographs, so what I have below is my attempt to include as many other parts of the trip where I did take photographs. Hopefully it will give you a snapshot of Indian culture, although it won’t compare to going there yourself.

 I looked out of our tour bus and stared up at these men that were sitting on top of a bus that was packed with people. They obviously don’t seem fazed about sitting precariously on top of a bus 15 feet in the air.

The colors in India are amazing.

There is a very good reason the Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In order to beat the crowds, my class arrived at the Taj Mahal at 7 a.m. This also proved to be the best possible time for photographing the beautiful monument. It may have been tough waking up that early, but it was definitely worth it for the view.

This photo was taken standing in front of the Taj Mahal looking towards the entrance gate. It’s a view that is photographed less, but is just as amazing.

Sunrise, facing a mosque on the eastern side of the Taj Mahal complex.

This was taken at the orphanage that my class visited while in India. I only had two days to get to know some of these kids, but that was enough time to learn that they are the most loving, outgoing, and thoughtful children I have ever met.

Like I said, the colors are amazing.

Every night thousands of people congregate at one portion of the Ganges river for Aarti, or, evening prayers. The ceremony is called Har Ki Pauri, and attending it is a pilgrimage for Hindus, who try and complete their evening prayers here at least once in their lifetimes. As evening falls priests perform a ceremony on the river banks while people send small boats made of leaves down the river. The boats hold a candle that represents their prayers. So many people, all showing so much devotion.

These men were part of one of a dozen or so remaining tribes that live on protected land. These tribes used to be nomadic, but over the years population growth has restricted any open land that is left in India, forcing these tribes to remain in one place. The only technology they had was a motorcycle (for getting to the nearest town for supplies), and a cell phone with a solar charger.

The Golden Temple, a holy site for Sikhs. Like the Taj Mahal, we arrived early in the morning to try and beat the crowd. Try is the operative word, look below.

The crowd at the Golden Temple. Thousands of Sikhs, with heads wrapped in colorful turbans, waited in line to enter the Golden Temple. Even early in the morning as the sun rose temperatures were flirting with the 90’s.This line had no organization, every five minutes guards at the front would let 20 or so people inside, starting a massive push  to move forward. If you were dedicated, you could make it to the front in 45 minutes. If you weren’t pushy, it could take two hours.