Photo journal from Amritsar

#1 Aug 3rd, 2016, 17:20
Join Date:
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  • chicovilla is offline
#1
I arrived back in India for my 3rd visit and for the first time in 3 years. It had been far too long. Visa applications were a lot simpler with the E-Visa system, and there were still many flight bargains to be had from the UK. Mine was with Qatar Airways for £420 return from Birmingham – I even managed to get a free upgrade to Business class! Booking train tickets from the UK however was still as difficult. I had big problems registering with IRTC, and eventually gave up setting up a new account and luckily was able to use an Indian friend’s account to book a train ticket for part of my trip.

I arrived late in the afternoon on the Sunday in fairly good shape thanks to my luxurious journey. It was hot and humid, which I did expect in July, but luckily the Monsoon was yet to arrive. I was staying at Tourist guest House, situated next to the Grand trunk Road. It was a decent budget hotel, with much needed air conditioning. I took a cycle rickshaw to a local bar, had a few beers and then had an early night, ready to explore Amritsar proper!



img=[IMG_1442-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]



I strolled down a side road heading in the direction of the Golden Temple, stopping off for Chai and breakfast on the street for 35 rupees.



img=[IMG_1458-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]



My first stop was at a Sikh temple near the Town Hall, called Gurudwara Shri Santokhsar Sahib.



Img=[ IMG_1468-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]



Sandals off, head scarf on I went in to explore. It was a quiet temple that was at one end of a big rectangular water pool. It was a pleasant place to walk around and watch the people carry out their bathing rituals and prayers.



Img=[ IMG_1473-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


img=[IMG_1476-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


I carried on walking past mosques, temples and general chaos that is typical of India. Unfortunately this whole part of Amritsar resembled a building site which you had to walk straight through. Men were cutting through concrete and there was lots of activity everywhere. You had to dodge construction traffic as well as the usual tuk tuks and hawkers. Its all part of a general “beautification” of the main road leading up to the Golden Temple” – or at least this is what the signs told me. Next stop was the gardens at Jallianwala Bagh.
This is a memorial garden at the scene of the massacre of hundreds of unarmed Sikhs at the hands of the colonial British in 1919. A shameful period in British History. It was humbling having Sikhs approach me – a British man, with a welcoming smile asking for me to pose for photos with them.



Img=[ IMG_1499-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]




img=[IMG_1504-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]



I was now just around the corner from the Golden Temple! I bought an Orange headscarf for 20 rupees, deposited my sandals in storage, washed my hands and feet, and then walked through an archway that led to the magnificent Harmandir Sahib – The Golden Temple. Founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das, a huge Sikh complex and home to the Sikh holy book Adi Granth.
There was a stunning Gold building in the middle of a huge square lake.


img=[IMG_1544-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


Men bathed on the steps leading down to the lake, and washed themselves in the holy water. The water represents the Nectar of Immortality in the Sikh religion. It was fascinating and calming to watch the men go through their bathing rituals (women also bathe in the water shielded by female only bathing rooms)
I walked a few circuits of the lake taking in the beautiful architecture that surrounded it. The complex was very busy, particularly a walkway that led to the Golden building in the centre.

img=[IMG_1529-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_1533-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


I found the area that served meals. Visitors (without distinction of background) are served free meals throughout the day. The Harimandir Sahib runs one of the largest free kitchens in the world, serving 100,000 people on average daily. I was lucky to have some help from a young Sikh visitor who showed me the way and how the meal was taken. You are given a steel tray and then led to a huge hall, where you sit down in long lines waiting for men to serve you with Dahl, Chapatti, a milky rice mixture, plain rice and a Jalebi. Very good it was too!




img=[IMG_1575-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_1672-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_1677-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


After the meal, you take your steel tray down to a big area where hundreds of people volunteered to wash the dishes! It was a huge operation carried out with a smile and great efficiency, ready for the next batch of pilgrims and visitors to eat. There was also another area were the food was prepared again by volunteers. Men and women sat in groups peeling onions and garlic, and huge vats of Dahl were heated on big Propane burners.


img=[IMG_1685-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


I spent most of the day at the Golden temple taking in the sights and sounds of the stunning building. I felt like a bit of a celebrity as I must have posed for dozens of photos of pilgrims eager to get their picture taken with me for some reason!

img=[IMG_1686-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


img=[IMG_1703-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


After I saw the sunset over the lake, I headed out and retraced my steps back in the direction of my hotel. I stopped off for a delicious Special Deluxe Tahli meal (195 Rupees) at a famous veggie restaurant called Bharawan da dhaba.


img=[20160704_192830-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


I was up next day bright and early at 4 am to be taken by Tuk Tuk back to the Golden Temple to catch the sunrise. I arrived in darkness, and was surprised to see it was still very busy with pilgrims. Some were chanting and parading with flags around the lake perimeter. The sunrise was beautiful and people stopped walking to watch the sunrise over the east side of the Temple.


img=[IMG_1824-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


img=[IMG_1829-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


I had arranged with the Tuk Tuk driver to pick me up again at 3pm from my hotel to take me to the Pakistan border to watch the daily Wagah border flag lowering ceremony. It took about an hour to drive out to the border and I took my seat in the stands. The heat was now so intense at 45c and I sat in direct sun for over 2 hours watching the parade.
It was a bizarre spectacle carried out by The Indian Border Force and their Pakistani counterparts the other side of the big Iron gate that separated the 2 countries. An uneasy peace mostly remains between the 2 countries although there are frequent skirmishes in Kashmir.
The event is a choreographed march to the beat of an enthusiastic drummer positioned right next to my ear! There is drama and a lot of posturing between the two sides and a lot of bizarre marching as the event builds up to the lowering of the 2 flags in synchronization, and the briefest of handshakes between the 2 sets of guards.
A fun trip out of Amritsar and good value at 600 rupees which it cost me to hire the Tuk Tuk.

Img=[IMG_2007-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


Img=[IMG_2013-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

Img=[IMG_2038-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

Img=[IMG_2084-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


Img=[IMG_2104-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

Img=[IMG_2168-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]



The next day I spent the day walking around the side streets of Amritsar, to different bazaars and communities. The people were all so welcoming and kind, offering me Chai and biscuits as I stopped and chatted to them. All happy to let me take their photos, in fact many insisted on it!


img=[IMG_2218-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2219-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2292-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2299-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2302-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2303-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2308-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[Amritsar local by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2328-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2351-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


The final district I visited was a predominantly Hindu area, close by to the Railway station. It was a charming area with lots of character and I met many lovely people on my way.
I visited the Hindu equivalent to the Harmandir Sahib. It was a mini replica of the Golden temple called Shree Durgiana Tirath.

img=[IMG_2372-02 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[local in Amritsar by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2390-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2399-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2459-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2467-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]

img=[IMG_2470-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]



My final destination in Amritsar was to Amritsar Junction Railway station to catch 22.15 express train to Haridwar for the next stage of my India adventure!


img=[IMG_2481-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


img=[ IMG_2509-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]


img=[ 20160708_055837-01 by William Hart, on Flickr]
#2 Aug 3rd, 2016, 19:38
Join Date:
Dec 2008
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  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#2
Very evocative photos. Beautifully shot and processed.

Edit: Behind that buffalo is the advert for a well known match maker whose name is often painted on walls such as those lining a railway line - I've seen many near Delhi railway stations.
#3 Aug 3rd, 2016, 20:52
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  • Pammi is offline
#3
Excellent TR and pics chicovilla !
#4 Aug 3rd, 2016, 20:55
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  • chicovilla is offline
#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Very evocative photos. Beautifully shot and processed.

Edit: Behind that buffalo is the advert for a well known match maker whose name is often painted on walls such as those lining a railway line - I've seen many near Delhi railway stations.
Ahhh thanks for that info! I had no idea what it said, but I liked the look of the Indian writing with the cow in shot!

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