So we took a 5-hr taxi ride down the maountain towards the west coast of northern India near to Pakistan. I can truly say that Amritsar is the Land of the Sikhs. It is part of the state of the Punjab which is what’s left of a vast empire. The punjab is one of the most fertile lands in India and produces much agriculture. The Sikhs are a very productive people and come from 500 years of rising out of the persecution, torture, wars and conflict of the Hindus & the Muslims. From the little knowledge I had of the Golden Temple & Amritsar, I had this image painted of my own expectations. Having taken Kundalini yoga for 4 years & being exposed to some Sikh information, I realize now I was totally uninformed. Boy was I surprised when we entered Amritsar!!
First let me explain, After visiting the small town of Agra where the Taj Mahal resides, I just pictured Amritsar an ancient old small town. I imagined that I would see the Golden Temple off in the distance overlooking the entire valley. Everyone kept telling me it’s not very big but very old???
So when we entered this giant city with tall buidings that block any view in front of you, I was quite shocked. Lots of traffic; a smelley, filthy dirty city and we couldnt find the Golden Temple. We got lost because our driver was from Dharmsala up in the mountains and not familiar with the area. Every one we asked for directions to the Golden Temple kept sending us on wild excursions. Nobody in the city even knew where this Golden Temple was?? My dream illionsion was so shattered and after just spending 5-weeks in the heavenly himalayas this was quite the shocker. When we got to the hotel that we supposedly had reservations, they wouldnt take us for some unknown reason we still cant figure out. Some kind of prejudice.
It always pays to have connections in India and all Indians have a brother, friend, relative or somebody they can call for you!! $$$$ If you get a nice, good driver, you always take their number for future reference and boy does it pay off. So luckily, we had a great driver I had gotten through a connection in McLoud and he had a friend driver who lived in Amritsar. So he showed up and got us into his Hotel connection right in front of the Golden Temple. Of course you couldn’t see the Golden Temple from the outside because it has very high walls surrounding it. So that night we ventured to the walled city of the Golden Temple.
- The best pictures taken are at night because of the lights. Everyone has to wear head & leg coverings. We were lucky again to experience the night closing ceremonies.The chanting & singing of the Sikhs while polishing all the brass was awesome. They clean the entire temple head to toe for hours and then at the end wash it with Milk. A sacred ceremony & blessing. We took some fantastic pictures.
The next day we returned to visit the different small temples within the walls where prayers were read & blessings given. Plaques with the history of the Sikhs, their famous King Warrior. There were also the healing waters which surround the Golden Temple. It is said through prayers many healing miracles have occurred after dipping into the waters. They have a separate enclosed Womens area where you can pour the waters over you. The men are out in the open. When you are a foreigner undressing all the women are staring, talking & laughing about this strange alien from a foreign land. It’s something you get use to and just smile & laugh at yourself with them.
So I said my Intention prayer & was baptized. It rained the entire time we were in Amritsar off & on. Our driver had big plans for a tour that afternoon and we had to truck around in the pouring rain & wind. So it was not the most enjoyable views of the ruins, monuments and temples. At the end of the day it started raining so hard the streets flooded about 3 ft high. They have no gutters & so it floods easily. To get back to the car we had to wade through the flood waters of filth. I dont have to describe all the filth that was in the waters!! Now that was a bit much for me & kind of creeped me out!! I can take a lot of 3rd world primitive situations but that was when my EWWWWWW!! American roots kicked in. At that point I only wanted to get back to the hotel so I could shower & dowse myself with my secret bacteria killer!! Yikes!! Thank God I carry my arsenal for such situations!! The food in Amritsar was quite traditional Northern India & very simple. Sanjay will eat anything. He has gone total Indian now!! I know he has lived many lifetimes in India. He has been here 6 yrs & has integrated into the Hindu lifestyle & he loves it!!! Me on the other hand, was just observing and choosing to my liking. He has been such a good friend & guide catering to my American needs & wants.
The next morning we caught an early morning train back to Delhi to pick up Sanjay’s computer & our stored luggage. We needed to get organised for the the long 4 day trip to Southern India to Sanjay’s House.