Friday, July 17, 2009

The Golden Temple

The highlight of our trip north to Amritsar was the famous Sikh Golden Temple. Built in the 17th-18th Centuries, it represents the spiritual soul of the Sikh religion. We actually visited the Temple at different times during the day. It is most beautiful at dawn, as the sun begins to strike its golden surface. The dome is supposed to be covered with 750KG of pure gold - most of the main temple (Hari Mandir Sahib) is actually covered with Copper. It stands in the middle of the "pool of nectar" (Amrit Sarovar) and is surrounded by white marble complex with beautiful clock towers and watch towers. Pilgrims are constantly strolling clockwise around the parameter of the pool. Men are bathing at the edges of the sacred waters. Families are sitting in the shade visiting, or mediating.
The philosophy of the Sikh religion is wonderful - their doors are opened to all. At this Temple, almost everyone working is a volunteer (hundreds of men, women and children are working all over the complex). My favorite place here was the kitchen (Guru Ka-Langar) where it is said the Temple feeds 40,000 visitors a day. There is a giant common dining room where travelers and pilgrims sit together and enjoy a simple, but delicious meal. Some of the kitchen volunteers called me over and invited me in to watch them cook. They were preparing the largest vats of dal (lentils) I have ever seen!
Although it was a hot day in Amritsar, being at the edge of the Temple waters and watching the families and pilgrims pass-by was a wonderful, peaceful experience.


harry potter said...

The first time I went to the golden temple I was completely mesmerized.....I mean the time when you walk down the steps, and get the 1st glimpse of the temple,the sight is just amazing. At the same time the hugeness of the temple complex that, along with the strains of the prayers make it a very serene experience. Believe me, if you find time, try going there at'll be nothing like you've ever seen. The temple complex looks sooooo beautiful then. Another thing....I'm sure you'd have noted that as much clean as the complex inside, it is as much filthy outside. The markets, streets i found were really cramped and polluted. Just hope you found the main experience of the temple complex better than everything else.

HouseBoy said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. It IS a wonderful place. Each time of day you visit gives you a different experience. The people are very wonderful in the Temple and Amritsar!