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Travel to India

The first thing we notice as we arrive in New Deli, the capital of India, is that it is a land of contrasts. Women and men can be seen dressed in their traditional clothing or dressed in the latest western fashion. We see cars and Brahman cattle in the streets. We are told by our guide, a young man named Ragir, that many people can’t read and write, yet India has launched weather and communication satellites, has nuclear technology and has some of the world’s largest number of scientists. There is wealth and their is great poverty in this land we are about to visit.

Ragir is dressed in jeans and said he doesn’t wear the dhoti, the shorts made by wrapping cloth between the legs, that many of the older In-dia men wear. He said that he likes American rock groups and told us that he has an Arizona State tee shirt that a tourist once gave him. A group of women wearing the traditional sari walk by. They must know Ragir be-cause he pause to speak to them in Hindi, the official language spoken in India. Hindi is also the 4th largest spoken language in the world. Ragi tells us that India has 14 major languages and over 1000 dia-lects. Because of English rule , which lasted until 1947, English was the official language of India until 1965. Communication and education has been a large problem which the use of one official language being taught in school, is helping to change.

Traveling by Train to Agra, we see the majestic Taj Mahal. Ragir tells us that over 20,000 men and women worked 24 hours a day for 22 years to build this tomb for the wife of an Emperor of India. He tells us the legend of what happened to the architect who designed the beautiful building. His fingers were cut off so that he could never design a building which would rival the Taj Mahal. Other stories say the architects hands were crushed and still other stories say he was blinded.

We traveled down the Ganges River to the city of Banaras. This is a very holy city for the Hindus, which is the main religion of the people of India. It is here that many people come to bath in the waters and visit the sacred temples.

Calcutta, the major port and most crowded city in India is our next stop. Ragir tells us that under British rule, Calcutta was the capital of India. While in Calcutta, we visit the Calcutta Zoo and see the Great Banyan Tree in the Calcutta Botanical Gardens. Banyan trees are really very interesting. A forest may really be only one tree. Seeds sprout in the branches(with the help of birds), and the roots reach down to the ground and take hold. Eventually,new branches grow, some getting large enough to develop into trunks with branches of their own. The banyan tree in the garden is over 200 years old and has over 600 branches and covers 1367 ft.

Traveling to Mumbai, previously called Bombay, offers lots of interesting sights to see. It is Mumbai which is the major port to the west and is where the Gateway to India, a huge stone arch (a well known landmark) is found. Near this city, are the famous Elephanta Caves where rock carvings can be seen. Mumbai is also the movie capital of India and is nicknamed “Bollywood”.

To the north of India is the beautiful Kashmir region and the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Many people say that a man-like creature, called the Abominable Snowman, lives in these mountains. To the people of the area, his is called the “yeti”.

As we travel back to the New Delhi airport, we see a snake charmer sitting on the sidewalk. He is playing his flute and a snake is moving to the music. Rajir reminds us that snakes do not have ears and are simply fol-lowing the man’s movements.

Websites of interest:

Customs of India.

When you travel to another culture, it is important to know the proper way to behave, the customs of the culture you are visiting.
1. In India, hissing is done to get another person’s attention
2. It is considered inappropriate to show affection in public.
3. Most people of India(Hindus) do not eat meat and are vegetarians
4.Today, the dots worn on a woman’s forehead are basically used for decoration. Called a bindi, they were once used to tell a woman’s married status.

Cool facts about the country of India

1.India is the world’s largest democracy.
2. Chess was invented India.
3. India invented the number system and the place value of zero as invented by Aryab-hatta.
4. The Baily Bridge is the highest bridge in the world and is found in India.
5. The wettest place in the world was in Cherrapungi, India, on August 1, 1860, when there was 1042 inches of rain in a year.
6. The first bathrooms may have been built in India as far back as 4500 years ago.

Learn some words in Hindi

Hello/Goodbye- Namaste(na ma stay)
Thank you- Shukriya(shoo kree ya)
No- Nahin(naheen)
Please- Meharbawni Se(May her banee say)

Folkstories from India

Check out the folkstory called The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Saxe at this site:

Words that have their origin from Hindi or Sanskrit include cheetah, dungarees ,punch, cot, shampoo, pajamas and dinghy. Can you find any other words?


Mohandas Gandi, or Mohatma(Great Soul), the name the Indian people gave him is considered to be the “George Washington of India,” since he helped to gain India’s in-dependence from British rule in the 1940s. His method for bring about change was called non violence, Following are some quotes of Gandhi.
1. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
2. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong
3. Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.
4. I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet.
5. An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind
6. If you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.

Fun activities:

online jigsaw puzzle on the Taj Mahal
Clips on Indian music
Have students draw a picture of the Taj Mahal and write 7 facts learned about India
Sample foods of India or make a recipe from this site:Syvum
Listen to Music of India such as Ravi Shankar
Draw a map of India and label its major geographic sites and cities.

Learn about India with this Informative Webquest!Click here:India: Country in Focus

Learn about the Taj Mahal: Click here:Taj Mahal: Exploring World Landmarks

Although I have tried to review each link, please check the site to see if it is appropriate for your grade level. Also, please monitor that students stay at the link. Should you find something questionable, please let me know. Thanks!

Illustration from