Golden Temple and the Friendliest People With Knives

Amritsar Travel Blog

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My first peddle rickshaw through the dusty, smoggy, smokey streets of Amritsar was both frightening and exhilarating.  Bicycles, cars, trucks, and motorcycles overtook us with a warning horn, while others sped directly at us only to avert our certain death by mere inches  The horns, and engines, the men in turbans with dark beards talking loudly, men squatting behind boiling vats of white-milky substances, hot oil sizzling brown dough, and the rattle of the rickshaw created a cacophonous symphony of sound and feeling.  I was in a carnival, a moving sea of people and vehicles.


The first stop after checking in at MK Sood Guest House was to see the Golden Temple.  Already it was 11:00 pm, but we wanted to see something after being cooped on the bus.

The Golden Temple
  The temple itself stopped me in my footsteps with its gold palatial appearance, surrounded by shimmering water reflecting golden light to my feet where I stood awed to silence.  Though aesthetically stunning, I was equally overcome by the feeling of peace, calmness, and sacredness.  The Golden Temple is the holiest Sikh shrine.  The Golden Dome, gilded with 750 kg of pure gold, represents an inverted lotus.  The temple is two stories, the lower level contains marbled walls decorated with inlaid flower and animal motifs.


In the quiet sanctuary by the pool surrounding the temple, fathers and young sons sat and talked, prayed, and spent time together.  Men in Turbans bathed, some chanted, and some walked the marble causeway around the pool.

Father and son sharing time with one another.
  It was there I met Ramanjeet and his son.  We talked for 30 minutes in the quiet of the Temple.  He insisted that I take his number and call with any problems.  He was a compassionate man, 32 years-old with 2 children.  He brought his 3 1/2 year-old son with him every night to thank God for his fortune and his blessed life. 


After bidding him goodbye, I returned to walking around the Temple.  Shortly thereafter, 6 boys in their 20s surrounded Dan and I.  Eager to practice English and more excited to meet Americans, the next 2 hours were filled with laughter and conversation as we circled the Golden Temple.  In spite of all the attention, the sanctity of the place imbued everything with a spirituality and calm.  After they left, we were again left to the stillness.



On Friday, we returned in daylight to absorb the Temple and to see its inner sanctum.  Sikh holy music filled the courtyard, men, and women in colorful saris, fluttered about in a dance of prostration.  Inside the temple itself, 3 men played music.  People sat, circumvented, meditated, brought offerings in banana leave-looking bowls, and prayed.  Sikh men read from holy books.  I found a spot at the top level, listening to the music from below, words from before me, and with others sitting beside me, meditated.  I couldn't find the quiet selfless place like at the Vipassana center, so i just sat still and let this holy place, its devotees friendliness and generosity and its sacred shrine pour over me. 


I ran into David and another friend from Vipassana and joined them at the free lunch provided by the Sikhs.

Chow time, care of the Sikhs.
  Endless servings of Dahl and Chapati filled my plate with the efficiency of an assembly line.  After lunch I deposited my plate into another assembly line that washed, process, and cleaned the plates, while others were busily preparing dinner.  It was seamless and organized; as it must be to feed the 40,000 pilgrims who may visit on a given day.


That afternoon I went to see the changing of the guards at the Pakistan/India border (Tavi/Wagh) which was a spectacle of rivalry and show.  The crowd, pumped up and dancing, cheered in good-natured fun that India is the best.  Pakistan did the same on the other side. 


I also quickly visited Jullianwala Bagh, a small park to commemorate that 2000 Indians killed or wounded by British authorities in 1919.

Our friends in the middle of the night.
  At night we returned and bid goodbye to the Temple.  Preparing for our first train ride, we went packed and crashed. 


On 11/17 - we hopped aboard the railway - 2nd class AC - and headed to Delhi, there we caught another train to Jaipur.  We arrived at the hotel at 1:00 a.m.  More on Jaipur to come shortly...


May all beings be happy... :) 

yogasurf says:
Glad you're having such a great trip! Hope I see you in India in a couple of months.
Posted on: Nov 19, 2007
ignominy says:
Cannot wait for your next entry. Miss you too.
Posted on: Nov 19, 2007
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Need I say more?
Need I say more?
The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple
Father and son sharing time with o…
Father and son sharing time with …
Chow time, care of the Sikhs.
Chow time, care of the Sikhs.
Our friends in the middle of the n…
Our friends in the middle of the …
Outside the quiet of the temple.
Outside the quiet of the temple.
photo by: frankcanfly