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Classical India

Over the next two days, we visited the ruins of an an ancient Indus valley civilization, learned about the Vedas, listened to a conert Sitarist, and learned some Bollywood dance.

Lothal, an ancient and prominent city of the Harappan civilization, contains the world’s earliest known dock along with some innovative architectural design for its period. The people of Lothal built paved baths, underground drains, and potable water wells. An assistant professor at IIT studies archealogy as a hobby so he gave us a thorough history of the Harappan civilization and architecture. The grounds are scattered with broken pottery pieces so we even got to secretly excavate a little and found a large part of a perforated dish.

After exploring Lothal, we got to listen to Srinivas Reddy, a professor at IIT but also a professional concert sitarist. Sitar is a stringed percussion instrument sort of like a guitar but with many more strings and raised frets. Srinivas played a few songs that were 100% improvised and centered around a theme like seasons or love. Because of the many strings, Srinivas could play melody and harmony simultaneously which created a beautiful and multilayered musical piece.

Srinivas is also a professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies so he gave us a brief overview of the religions of India ranging from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, and Islamism. Hinduism orignated from the Vedas, a body of texts that contain mantras that are meant to be recited. Hinduism in India though is more a way of life than an organized religion with a central authority. After learning about the religions of India, we got to learn both classical Indian dance and more modern Bollywood dance.

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