Amazing food, colourful culture, warm and happy people – our first evening in Amritsar in short. We ambled along the roads around the Golden Temple and were quite taken aback by the beautification. The entire stretch has been neatly paved, well organised rows of shops, off limit for vehicles, benches where people can sit and relax and above all, very well maintained and sparkling clean roads !
They blended the heritage buildings beautifully with the modern constructions, we were told the roads were beautified a year ago and the Municipal authorities take great care in cleaning and maintaining the area. It is refreshing to see civic authorities and citizens being responsible, a rarity in our country !
The shops are shopaholic’s paradise, the famous Punjabi Juttis to Phulkari textiles, toys, handicrafts, kulfi !
At the end of the road are the white marble buildings leading to the Golden Temple.
Every bit of the area, spick and span and people quietly going about their business. When the sun set, the lights came on, adding to the beauty of the setting.
It was time for our visit to the Golden Temple.
Life’s golden moments
Under the lights, the entrance to the Golden Temple looked “wow” !
Through the archway, we caught our first glimpse of the Golden Temple and were left speechless !
Who hasn’t seen pictures of the Golden Temple? But, seeing it in person, dazzling in the night, in the middle of a water pool, with strains of soulful music in the background – one has to experience it to believe it !
Just looking at the stunning Golden Temple and the aura of the place feels like you are being drawn into a trance.
Surreal, we could call it. We went quiet, each of us drawn into ourselves, feeling several things – happiness, tranquility, fulfilment, alive !
We joined the queue waiting for darshan. The queue was teeming with people but we watched in absolute surprise how everybody was quiet, disciplined, no pushing, no trying to break the queue or going ahead out of turn, no shouting or loud talk. How wonderful it is when our people can be at their best behaviour at public places – a rarity !
The pathway to the Golden Temple is built over the Amrit Sarovar, the tank around the temple from which the city of Amritsar gets its name.
A quick darshan and we were out of the Golden Temple. The gleaming gold interiors inside the temple will leave you mesmerised. We sat on the platform outside in silence and watching people lost in spirituality. We were impressed by the way people conducted themselves with discipline, devotion, the sense of service. One can see people voluntarily taking up some work or the other, cleaning the floor, helping another, this, we think is the essence of any religion – service to mankind as a means to serving God.
Then, we strolled around the temple. The marble floor almost made our toes freeze and the cold air gave us the shivers but we were so taken by the sublimity of the Golden Temple that even the extreme cold was a source of joy !
One can spend hours watching the sparkling reflections in the pool.
We sat on the marble floor bordering the tank, there was no thinking, no rush, no plan – just empty minds soaking in the golden moments of life. We wanted to forget everything and just spend our lives there !
There are hundreds of multi coloured fish in the Amrit Sarovar, it was very calming to watch them quietly swim in the cold water, there is something to watching nature do its work without uttering a word.
After a long time of silence and complete bliss, we headed out. Here is one more picture of the Swarna Mandir in all its glory.
Next, we went to the Guru-ka-Langar, the Gurudwara’s kitchen as it is called in Punjabi. Probably the largest kitchen in the world, the Langar serves free meals to anybody at any time of the day. The tradition of serving meals was started by Guru Nanak himself and it is amazing that this service to mankind is followed in almost every Gurudwara. The people who work at the Langar are usually devotees volunteering to do service, it is the greatest example of community service.
A meal at the Langar is divine, simple rotis, curries and kheer that you can have as much as you wish for. The volunteers serve you with such kindness that you are almost choked with gratitude.
When clean India is not just a dream !
With a feeling that could only be described as overwhelmed, we stepped out of the Golden Temple and took a walk, already in a happy state of mind, everything around looked enchanting ! Kulfi followed by Coffee, we wandered around the glittering streets of Amritsar’s Chowk Fuwwara.
Look at this majestic statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh !
Check out the super clean, neatly paved, illuminated roads.
Walking here feels like you are in one of those foreign countries, whose pictures you see and wonder when India would become like this !
There is also a large LED screen on one of the buildings showing footage and images of the Golden Temple.
The entire stretch of over 1 km of what they call the Fawwara Chowk to Town Hall to the Golden Temple is proof that if citizens and authorities make up their mind, Swachch Bharat is not a distant dream !
It was almost 10 PM when we wound up for the day and headed back to our hotel, raving about Amritsar till we fell asleep.
- The Golden Temple is open from 2.30 AM to 10.15 PM. There are no tickets, special entries or VIP darshans, everybody has to follow the same queue.
- The Guru Ka Langar is open at all times, anybody can simply walk in and have a meal.
- We did not find any information on how one could also be a volunteer and do some seva like our experience in Nanded Gurudwara.
- Do not just make a quick visit and exit from the Gurudwara, make sure you spend a lot of time just sitting in the premises and absorbing the peace.
- Photography is not allowed inside the Sanctum, one can click pictures anywhere outside the main shrine.
- Vehicles are not allowed to ply on the roads leading to Golden Temple and the lanes around are too narrow, if you are driving your own vehicle, parking could be an issue.
- Indulge in shopping as much as you want, we did not shop at all and we are not sure if bargaining works.
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