Jun 2, 2012

Yatra- The Golden Temple of Amritsar

Reached Amritsar very early in the morning. I asked an auto-rikshaw guy to drop me at a good hotel near Golden Temple. And he dropped me at really good hotel, ie, Rs.1,650+tax. But, the night long journey in a raddi(garbage) bus made me go for this good hotel. I slept for couple of hours before starting to the Golden Temple.

Harmandir Sahib aka the Golden Temple is really magnificent. In 16th century a Sikh Guru excavated a tank which was called pool of sacred nectar. And the temple Harmandir Sahib, an abode of Gods, was built in the middle of this tank. It seems, with Mughal Emperor Akbar's financial help the city Amritsar was built around the lake.

After going around the sacred tank I decided to go inside the temple. There was a long line ... again ... pushing ... men,women, children were so close and pushing that it felt like a single body was moving. There was a distinct smell ... I was not able to get what it was ... people were holding plates full of prasad which was clearly greasy. Then I realized the smell was of ghee ... but, it smelled different!

There was a bunch of 8-9 guys who pushed people like a bulldozer and jumped the line. None said anything and the guys looked very arrogant. They didn't care for women, children or elders. I had darshan and then the deliciousprasad before leaving the complex. The temple street is lined with souvenir shops, sweet stalls and lussi bars. Well, in the hot, humid afternoon coldmalai-lassi was heaven.
Very near to the Golden Temple complex is Jallianwala Bagh ... very popular public garden and a memorial. During British rule in India, around 150 british troops massacred over 400 innocent and peaceful locals on Baisaki(Punjabi New Year) Day. The garden still has the walls with bullet marks, the well in which people drowned to escape from the bullets. It is a landmark in India's struggle for freedom.
28Km from the city is the international border between India and Pakistan called Wagah Border. By sunset this place turns into chaos. Tourists flock around to watch the ceremony of changing guards. It is nice to see the parade once but is hyped out of proportion.
Considering sunset is at 5:30PM, start from Amritsar by 2 or 2:30PM and secure a place from where you can see the parade. If you have not started from the city even by 3:30PM then you need not go there. Be careful about your belongings. Contents of your bag are allowed but, the bag itself is not allowed. So, carry minimum, money, cellphone and a camera. Shared rikshaws are available but they stuff 10 humans, small children are not counted!!

After enjoying hot jalebis I called it a day ... it was time to plan for the next destination Dharmashala in Himachal Pradesh.

Click HERE to read next post on Backpacking India series.

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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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