Monday, September 05, 2005

Amritsar : The city of the Golden Temple

The Golden Temple :
From Jallianwala Bagh we went to the Golden temple. It is hardly 5 minutes walk from the Jalianwala Bagh memorial to the Golden Temple. The weather was hot and humid. The sun was blazing down. We felt the temperature at least 5 degree higher than that of Dehradun. The marble tarmac of the temple complex was spewing too much of heat for our bare feet. Yet we were left mesmerized by the Darbar Sahib. Clad in real gold, it was shining majestically amidst the white surrounding. We have seen photos and read about the Golden temple from our childhood. It was quite a feeling to be actually there. Located at the center of Amrit Sarovar, from where the name Amritsar came, this temple was constructed under supervision of 5th Guru Arjan Dev in the sixteenth century. The construction was started in 1588 and completed in 1601. Later Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) got the top two floors plated with 400 kgs of gold leaf. The complex is kind of a fort. All the buildings are colored in white that reflects in the greenish waters of the lake. We took a detour of the complex starting from the left side. Offerings are to be bought inside the temple complex that are available by paying 10, 15 or 20 rupees. After offering prayer at the Darbar Sahib’s main prayer hall at the ground floor, we went to the first and second floor as well. Each one of them had a Granth Sahib, but of different size. The atmosphere inside the sanctum sanctorum was very soothing and calm, quite different from our Hindu temples. Imagine, this is the most important shrine of the Sikhs yet one do not have to struggle to pay obeisance. People were going in peacefully in queues in a very disciplined way, silently offer bows their heads to the Granth Sahib and come out. Just visualize something similar in Puri or Badrinath, two of the holiest shrines of the Hindus. After waiting for hours in queues, you get lost in the crowd inside the sanctum sanctorum and hardly are able to catch a glimpse of the deity. Another situation – just stands for 10 minutes at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar, I assure you that you will be mobbed by beggars and donation seekers. You will feel like scream and run away. I was really moved at the discipline and peacefulness of this place.

After completing a parikrama of the complex, we went for Langar. Also called the Guru-ka-Langar, it is the free community kitchen provided by the Sikhs. This system was started by Guru Amar Das. Once inside the hall, we realized that it feeds several thousands people everyday. It is open 24 hours. Even foreign tourists were seen having meal at the Langar. On our way in we collected the utensils and were returned to designated spot after finishing food. There are large number of volunteers engaged in cooking, distribution and cleaning. Nobody remains hungry. That may be the reason there were no beggars around. This Langar facility is run on donations.

We came back again in the night to have a view of the illuminated temple. We saw the ceremony of the Granth Sahib being taken to the Akal Takht where it is kept at night. It was around 10:15 pm. We were told that it is brought to Darbar Sahib in a similar ceremonial procession at 3:30 am in the morning. However, this majestic temple never sleeps and remains open 24 hours.


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Restaurants at Gurgaon said...

I really liked the way you explored the place of Amritsar, Golden temple , jalia wala bagh and all. I enjoyed it while reading.Thanks for sharing!!