Amritsar, Haryana & Punjab
December 5th – 6th 2010
From McLeod Ganj, I had to take a 3.5 hour bus to Pathankot to catch a 3-hour bus to Amritsar where the famous Golden Temple was located. The Golden Temple is the Mecca of the Sikh faith; every Sikh tries to make the pilgrimage here once in their lifetime.
(Man bathing in the holy waters.)
(On the causeway to GT.)
Although not much is worth mentioning about the city of Amritsar itself besides that it’s quite polluted and chaotic, the Golden Temple was a whole different experience. Walking into the compound with my bandanna on my head and shoes deposited at the front counters, I was blown away by the inside complex. There is a huge holy “nectar” pool in the middle, filled with beautiful giant carp and where people take turns to wash in (men will strip down to their underwear and get in the water; women just stand near the surface fully clothed). There are loud speakers playing some groovy Sikh music that’s played live by 3 men inside the GT. In the middle of the pool, lay the GT, connected to the outer edge of the complex by a causeway. I had to stand in line for about an hour to get into the GT and check it out. No picture-taking is allowed inside the temple so I’m afraid I cannot show it to you all. There are 3 guys (always 3 guys, even in the other Sikh temple I visited) playing and singing some calming Sikh prayer music while the main-man, the guru, is in the middle, reading what I think is the holy Sikh scriptures. Sikhs gather around in the temple, sitting down here and there, offering their gifts and donations before heading out of the temple to the holy pool and taking a sip of the water (delicious carp juice).
Upon walking back across the causeway and exiting, I am given a glob of oily peanut brittle which I receive with both hands and head bowed, as is the custom, which I later eat. I read that people can go to the complex kitchens and get fed free food (the Sikhs believe in feeding everyone) but I didn’t go. I really enjoyed visiting the GT.