Day 8 [Amritsar] All Golden And Jovial

I LOVE AMRITSAR, I LOVE SIKHS AND I LOVE MY HOST, NARINDERJIT. Mr. Singh, my host from couchsurfing in Amritsar, is a very kind person, who opened up a farmhouse for travelers to stay in. To date, he hosted more than 300 people, and everyone who came brought a little something back in their hearts.

There are so many good things to say about Amritsar I will sound like a broken record. One of the best thing that happened was when I got to meet another traveler. Yifa, from Israel is a fun-loving girl who spent a few days in Amritsar before me and thus served as my personal guide to the farmhouse and to Amritsar.

The farmhouse is located 15 minutes from the city, and is surrounded by endless views of the lush green rice fields. The staff are really friendly, especially Rasma, the cleaner lady, who tries to speak English from her dictionary. They have horses, buffaloes and goats, and also 2 pools to dip into during summer. Add it with a big spacious room with air-conditioning, this is the best I’ve ever been to in India.

One of the white studs on Mr. Singh’s farmhouse, this one looks depressed

Green fields as far as the eyes can wander

Swimming pool in the farmhouse, free for use during summer

Best room with AC and attached bath, my home sweet home in India

Me with Rasma’s grandchildren

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE IS THE HOLIEST SITE FOR ALL SIKHS. A truly unforgettable experience, the temple is the cleanest, friendliest and most efficient one I’ve ever seen in my life. Everything is well thought of, they have lines to sort out the crowds, and even being such a large temple, all the marble floors are squeaky clean. A golden dome with 750 kg of pure gold lies in the middle of the holy lake, a place where it is said to have healing properties. A complete circuit is done with a calming walk around the temple in a clockwise direction, with live continuous chants broadcasting in the background.

According to my host, Mr. Singh, beggars are nowhere to be seen here, just because the Sikhs believe so much in charity, food is distributed in the temple and elsewhere. The Sikhs are appreciative of all religions and race, I’ve heard the comment ‘There is one God, but we are all the same’ too many times. Here at temple, I was never pushed for donations, but was treated respectfully as a guest.

The magnificent Golden Temple by day

The temple looks very gracious during night, here with a devotee cleaning its floor

The insides of the Golden Temple, men chanting and playing instruments with the holy book at the middle

A doctor works in the Golden Temple giving out free medicine

Live band singing Sikh chants

THE EXPERIENCE AT THE ATTARI BORDER IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT. This is the only border between India and Pakistan, and given their long history of blood shed, and present tension, the border-closing ceremony serves as a cheerful change. Every evening, soldiers from both sides compete each other with drills and yells and high kicks (but nothing violent). The crowds then cheer ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ (Long live India), and the other side cheer their Pakistani version. They then lower the flags and the border is closed for the day. The patriotic showmanship manage to attract huge crowds everyday, and the schoolchildren line up for photos with their heroes. Tacky souvenirs are sold after the ceremony and has pictures of the tall muscular soldiers on all of them.

At the Attari border alongside with hundreds of cheering patriotic Indians

The crowds from the Indian side of the border

Me and Yifa posing with one of the soldiers after the ceremony

Souvenirs sold at the Attari border

WHILE I REST MY TIRED FEET ON THE SOFT BED WATCHING TV, I can’t be more grateful for Amritsar. The hospitable Sikhs, serene Golden Temple, the joyful Attari border and kind Mr. Singh all changed my previous stereotypes of India. Now, India to me, is clean, helpful and fun in my mind.

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