13 October 2009

The Golden Temple at Amritsar

On Monday we left Varanasi and made the 24 hour train journey to Amritsar. The journey was surprisingly good. We had a berth in the 2 tier sleeper carriage and it turned out to be far nicer than any of the Indian hotels we've so far stayed in. We had fairly comfy beds, sheets, towels and air con - things that were lacking in the rubbishy hotels so far. The train also served some great food including some pakoras that were almost as good as Noreen's nibbles.

Apart from when we were in Burma/Myanmar, the sleeper trains we've used have been a great way to get about. It's always quite an interesting experience to wake up in a new city. In The Great Railway Bazaar Paul Theroux says "The sleeping car combines the best features of a cupboard with forward movement."

The main reason we've come to Amritsar is to see the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine.

The original copy of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is kept in the temple at the middle of the pond. The current temple dates from 1764 with the gold roof, which uses 3/4 of a ton of gold, being added in the early 1800's.

It was also noticeable that the atmosphere at the Golden Temple was really jolly, sometimes the big religious sites can be a bit stuffy.

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