At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair should be messy and your eyes sparkling. – Shanti
My last stop was Amritsar, where I reached after another exhausting 17 hours journey, including two different sleeper trains, until I finally arrived at my hostel around 6 or 7 pm. Amritsar itself is famous for the so called Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), considered as the holiest religious complex of the Sikh religion that is surrounded by the sacred Amrit Sarovar lake, in which pilgrims take a bath.
A little background info for everyone not knowing about Sikhs or Sikhism, the term for the respective religion: According to Article I of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the Sikh code of conduct), as Sikh is characterized as “any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; Guru Granth Sahib; the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru.1
I personally like the ideas on which their religion is built (consult the internet for further information) – and I am a huge fan of the fancy turbans the male followers of this religion would wear, most of the time even matching their clothes. Of course I had to try one, unfortunately neither matching my clothes nor my tan, but still I felt like a king. Or queen. 😀 Looking at the name, the middle or last names “Singh” (lion) for male Sikhs and “Kaur” (princess) for female ones give a hint that this person belongs to this religious group.
As furthermore Amritsar is located close to the Pakistani border, my sightseeing included two major things:
1. The Golden Temple, which I visited three times in total. Twice at night, with different constellations of groups – the first time with a whole bunch of people from the hostel, the second time with Mathieu and Janik, and once alone in the early morning. I loved it at night, when the temple was reflected in the surrounding water. Apart from the complex itself, another highlight was the kitchen of the temple that would serve food to every visitor regardless faith or background. People would sit in rows, their plates in front of them, and Sikhs would go around and fill up the plates again and again with more food, if desired. The meal (that I had 3x also 😀 ) was composed of some lentil soup, vegetables, rice pudding and chapatti. It was so simple yet so delicious… One of the best meal I got during my whole time in India. Considering the fact that this food is prepared in pots with one meter in diameter this seemed even more stunning to me!
In exchange, one could either help washing the dishes (such a huge production line!) or give a donation, or nothing at all. Before entering the temple, shoes had to be removed and the head had to be covered the whole time during the visit. I decided to wash some dishes for fun and for the experience (amazing how fast these women were washing all the plates and spoons…) and to donate as well, as I took good profit out of the offer anyways plus admired the fact that something like this exists. A cultural heritage that should be preserved!
On my second day, I furthermore visited the Hindu answer to the Golden Temple – the Silver Temple (Durgiana Mandir)! 😀 Anyways I had to admit, that the Golden one was a bit more impressive… 😉
2. The evening ceremony at the border to Pakistan (Wagah border), where Indian and Pakistani soldiers / policemen performed a show, demonstrating who the stronger nation is. Although it was not meant to be taken as that, the whole performance was ridiculously funny, with the men throwing their legs up in the air and the huge hats on their heads. However, concerning the attending visitors, India clearly won by outnumbering the Pakistani, but even the Pakistani ranks filled up quite well during the spectacle.
I also saw some other, less important sights, learned some Bollywood dance moves and tried Malai lassi, until I finally headed towards the airport in order to catch my plane to Delhi (hate the airport there 😀 ), from where I took another flight to Mumbai. Once arrived, I took a cab to the bus stand and a bus to Pune (5 hours 😉 ), where Dustin offered to pick me up with his scooter to take me home – home, sweet home Pune…
Thank you for this amazing journey, India. Indeed, I ended up with messy hair, dirty feet and so much love and joy inside that I can say that this trip was perfect for me in all its imperfection.