Coming back to Colgate from India was a very hard transition. I loved the time in India and it went by way too quickly. I loved being able to travel and experience new sites, new foods and new culture. It was my first time getting to truly experience all of this and it was such an amazing time. The snow and the constant routine of waking up and just going to class has been hard to adapt to. One of my favorite parts of being in India was just having the ability to look out from the bus and see all of the beauty that India possesses. However, the poverty that we witnessed was truly heart-wrenching. I have spent quite a bit of time brainstorming how our class could create some kind of campus wide activity that would allow for us to raise awareness about the poverty we witnessed and also collect some money to give to an organization that works to help people in those situations. I have not been able to come up with any super solid ideas yet, but I think a party at 100 Hamilton would be a fun, inclusive event that anyone could attend as long as they donated 5 dollars!
I cannot wait to go back to India and spend more time exploring and experiencing everything!
Although I focused my research on the Kailasantha Temple at Ellora, it was the Shiva Caves that truly shocked me. I often times stumbled upon articles describing all of the caves as such a magical, beautiful escape from the real world and I did not fully experience this until seeing the caves! Walking around seeing these huge sculptures of Shiva and Parvati, I felt very small and insignificant. I don’t mean that in a bad
way though! I felt like I was just a human and I could witness all of the glory and bravery and struggles that Shiva endured without actually having to go through it myself. I was at a loss for words as I walked around. In every single direction, there was something new and exciting commanding my attention and every time I passed a sculpture I had already seen before, a new detail would pop out at me revealing something else. I spent much of my time reflecting on the skill and strength those who created this monument were! It is easy to visit these monuments and pay homage to the gods depicted on the walls for all of their successes, but really, equally as admirable are those who spent years of their lives chiseling away to create these beautiful works of art! It was an amazing experience.
On the bus ride driving to Ellora, I was absolutely terrified to give my short presentation. I spent so much of the semester preparing, however I felt that when the time came to spoke, what I researched would not make much sense. This is because my research is not necessarily fact-based. My research is open to interpretation and something that will only be witnessed if the viewer chooses so. With situations like this, there is a lot of room for people to experience different things and disagree with each other on what the “truth” really is.
Upon arriving at Ellora, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty and size of the temple. It was so much more magical than I expected. The intricate details, the huge figures and even the color was amazing to see. Pictures truly do not do it justice. For a few minutes I just walked around with so many thoughts running through my head. I then saw the staircase with the frieze that I studied and I was reminded of my research! My research was focused on how the monument at Ellora can be viewed as a chronological journey. I began by explaining the concept of the four yugas which I learned from the Britannica Dictionary are ages of mankind. We are currently in the fourth and will be in this yuga until the destruction of the world and time will then reset in the first yuga. I explained how as you circumambulate on the first level of Kailasanatha you are traveling in the fourth yuga. As I learned through John Hawley’s work, as you climb the staircase on either the right or the left, you are also traveling through the friezes flanking the walls which our representative of the second or third yuga. It was also important to explain how to read the friezes which Stephen Markel talked about in his book. The friezes must be read from
left to right and top to the bottom. When you arrive on the top level of the Kailasanatha Temple, you have entered the first yuga. The dravida form of the temple also echoes the theme of transcending time, as the higher up
you go the closer to Shiva you are! It feels so different to talk about this theme in class with pictures then it was to share it with my peers when we were actually there! I did not expect to feel as excited as I did to share the journey with them and my hope is that they experienced the symbolic journey through time while being at the temple! Kailasa is truly such a magical and powerful place.
If you wanted to learn more I would suggest checking these sources out:
Britannica Academic, s.v. “Yuga,” accessed November 16, 2016,
Hawley, John Stratton. “Scenes from the Childhood of Kṛṣṇa on the Kailāsanātha Temple, Ellora.” Archives of Asian Art 34 (1981): 74-90.
Stephen Markel. “The “Rāmāyaṇa” Cycle on the Kailāsanātha Temple at Ellora.” Ars Orientalis 30 (2000): 59-71. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4629570.
Day 0: I am so beyond excited to leave the country for the first time but I am also very nervous! I am most looking forward to walking around India and just taking it all in! I hope to not appear to touristy! I am nervous because I do not want to accidentally offend someone or their culture by accidentally behaving in a certain way, but I feel confident that with the help of my peers I will be ok. I am so excited to try all types of new food and to be in the warm air! I really want to push myself to get out of my comfort zone on this trip and do things that might be a little nerve-wracking or scary. I can’t wait to report more on my experience!