Day 32: Wednesday, 27th Nov 2013 and Day 33: Thursday, 28th Nov 2013
A Sikh person told us “You have landed in God’s lap when you arrive in Amritsar”. So true!
It’s Wednesday morning 7 am and we wake up. The train is about to pull into Amritsar station. As we step out of the platform, we see a nice glass monument of Golden temple. We take an auto rickshaw to our Jain Dharamshala.
It’s 10 am and post breakfast, we leave to see Golden temple – it was a nice 2 km walk from our place. The area outside Golden temple is under construction and crowded but people are navigating through this madness. We enter the temple complex and immediately feel a air of serenity. Devotional music was being played on the speakers and visitors were immersing in the holy water for a dip. We walk around the circumference of the temple and eat their sweet offerings. The main temple is in the middle of a lake and there is a small walkway towards it. The lines were long and people tried to sneak ahead to get in front of the line. Some of the security people kept shouting to form a single line, but Indians will always be Indians. We had 6 separate lines for a single line. Once inside the temple, you can see it’s beauty. It’s marked in gold and truly it’s the golden temple. We sit for a while and meditate.
We leave Golden temple by 3:30 pm and walk to Jallianwalah Bagh. Jallianwalah Bagh was a horrific incident in India’s freedom history. (Meri rooh kaanp uthti hai). On Baisakhi day in 1919, an Englishman ordered innocent Indians to be fired at in a closed campus and over 1500 people died that evening. This place has been converted into a memorial garden and you can see some of the bullet marks on the walls. We relax in the garden for a while and wait for the Light and Sound show at 5:45 pm. The show was amazing. The great Amitabh Bachchan has lended his voice as Udham Singh who witnessed this incident as a kid from the terrace and vowed to take revenge one day. The result being sometime in 1940, Udham Singh shot dead the officer in Kaxton Hall, London who had ordered this horrific ordeal. The movie was heart touching and my prayers go out to all the families who had to bear the pain during India’s freedom struggle.
We head back to the Dharamshala and relax for the night. Next day, early morning we head to Durgyani mandir. The interesting part is that Golden temple and Durgyani mandir have the same setup. It’s built in a complex where the main temple is in the center of the lake. Mere coincidence, I guess not? Post the temple visit, We check out the cloth market in Amritsar as Khyati checks out some Patiala (dress worn by women)… shopping, eh?
There is a 350 year old Jain temple in the old market of Amritsar and we struggle to find our way at first. Asking directions from shop owners, we eventually find our way. The streets are so narrow that I am sure India will be able to break world records for narrowest street. The only trouble is that the street is actually wide but shop owners have encroached on the road and partially made it their own. What a shame!
It’s 1:30 pm and we head back to Golden temple. Here, we were going to get a taxi for Wagah border. Let me correct – Wagah is actually a Pakistani town and the town on Indian side is Attari so shouldn’t we call it Attari border? I wonder how and why the name Wagah border got popularized? Let’s stand for calling it Attari border, will you? The journey is an hour from Golden temple and as we near the border, we can see the heightened security. Near the border, there are sign boards for Pakistani towns – Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, etc. The border area is well guarded and we can see at least 5000 tourists around. It was a weekday, how can so many people be free to come witness a daily evening retreat by the Indian army? Well, surprisingly, it is very popular and many people do come. There are separate security lines for men and women and Khyati zoomed through while I was still waiting in the security line, poor me!
Seating area is also different for ladies and gents. The show began promptly at 4 pm and Indian devotional songs were sung and people were invited to dance and carry the Indian flags up the road leading to the border. It was a proud moment for all of us. The show lasted for an hour and finished sharp at 5 pm. Both the Indian and Pakistani flags were brought down at the dawn of sunset and we bade goodbye to the amazing show. We take the taxi back to Golden temple and once again, visit the Golden temple to witness it in lighting. The night beauty was amazing and we head back to our Dharamshala. We catch up on some writing and call it a night around 11 pm.
Tomorrow morning, we head to Dalhousie and have an early morning train to catch for Pathankot.
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