After leaving Chandigargh, we travelled up to Amritsar, supposedly for a few days of peace and quiet and reflection after the excitement of the exhibition in the Rock Garden. In the three days that we have been here, we have spent much of the time in the Golden Temple, returning several times to experience it in different light and at different times of the day. Originally a small lake in the midst of a quiet forest, the site has been a meditation retreat for wandering mendicants and sages for centuries It’s now the primary sacred shrine of the Sikhs.
The Golden Temple is indeed very peaceful, with chanting and hyms from early morning till late at night while pilgrims/ visitors stroll leisurely around the marble concourse around an outstandingly clean pool and temple complex. Outside the temple is a different matter with constant traffic snarls, honking horns, hordes of visitors and touts and the usual tourist junk being thrust in your face as you try to walk down the street without being bowled over by a three wheeler bicycle, a tuk-tuk, a motor bike or a car. And that’s on the footpath!
The temple’s architecture is an interesting mix of both Hindu and Moslem styles – certain aspects remind us of the inlaid marble extravaganza and architecture of the Taj Mahal, whilst the setting of a stunningly beautiful golden temple in the centre of a lake reminds us a little of the brilliant golden glow of the Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Last night, we were lucky enough to experience an unexpected fireworks display over the temple just as we were leaving. Awesome!