The main reason for going to Amritsar, in the Indian state of Punjab, is to visit the Sikh’s spiritual centre, the Harmandir Sahib; known to westerners as the ‘Golden Temple’. It welcomes over 100,000 visitors daily and is considered a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. Everybody, irrespective of cast, creed or race, is welcomed to seek spiritual solace without hindrance; though you may be warmly greeted by adults, teens and children asking to have photos taken.
The city of Amritsar was founded in 1574 by the 4th Sikh Guru Ram Dass. The word Amritsar means “the tank of nectar of immortality”, and the Golden Temple complex surrounds a large holy tank, in the centre of which the Golden Temple itself seems to float. The holy text of Sikhism, the Adi Granth, is contained within.
We came through one of the four entrances (representing the 4 directions), removed our shoes, and walked in to the temple complex. Throughout the complex, the friendly faces of the fellowship are everywhere, and we join the slow pace of the other visitors strolling around the outer edge of the large lake/tank. Some are bathing and praying, others are sitting along the white marble tiled walls, enjoying a peaceful moment in one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. Later we learn that the Gurdwara runs one of the worlds largest free food kitchens, and feeds over 100,000 people every day. As we left the temple complex that day, we heard the clatter of the metal pans and dishes inside as the kitchen swung into gear for that day.
The Golden Temple was a place of peaceful contemplation, fellowship, and kindness.
A moving experience for any faith.
Do you have favorite travel sites in India? Perhaps not-so-well known treasure(s) you would like to share with other TMS readers?