Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Traveling to Amritsar

I usually recount my travels in video format, but since my GoPro was dead for the entire 7 hours that I was in Amritsar, I decided to make a blog post highlighting the places that I visited.

I hopped on a night bus from Delhi that I booked off of, which is like the Indian version of Tripadvisor, and I left in the evening in order to arrive in Amritsar in the early morning.  The bus ride was about 7 to 8 hours and it went by as fast as closing and opening my eyes because I was passed out for the entire ride.  

The next thing I knew a dark figure with a distinguishable mustache was looming over me while yelling in Hindi.  As I was dazed, groggy, and disoriented, I pointed to the window and simply asked "Amritsar?"  Amritsar it was, so I got off the bus thrown into an unfamiliar city with no bearings and no sense of direction.

First thing's first, I had to find somewhere to drop my huge ass pack before I could go around exploring the city.  Now having my drowsiness dissipate with each breath of the morning air- the air that felt cool, but smelled of urine- I set out to find a guest house or hotel.  Lucky for me, the weather was dry and the sky had some cloud cover to protect me from the unforgiving sun, so walking around wasn't too much of a hassle.

After finding a place to hold my pack for 700 rupees (a ripoff if you ask me), I headed to the famous Golden Temple.  Amritsar isn't big which made finding the temple very easy; I paid a rickshaw 20 rupees and I was there.

So, when you arrive at the white walls of the temple, you'll have to check in your shoes at one of these counters.  I was expecting to pay, but instead, they just take your shoes and hand you a metallic ticket for you to hold onto.  

That lady be giving me the stink-eye.
Before you can go inside the gate, the guards make sure that your hair is being covered, which is part of the Sikh culture.  

Thug lyfe.
The temple is essentially the huge white outer walls that join with the living quarters of the monks and staff to form a square, then there is a big pool of water in the center of the square with a golden temple in the center, and I really do mean it's made of gold. 

While walking around the temple grounds I learned a bit about the Sikh culture and their there religious beliefs.  For everyone who doesn't know, the Sikh people are the people found in India wearing turbans and their history is one that is filled with rebellion, martyrdom, and badassery.  I highly recommend reading up on them.  

Next, I decided to stand in line and wait to go inside the Golden Temple.  I had to wait in this line.

After 45 minutes of waiting, I got to the entrance.  I can see the light!  I'm almost there!

Sike! Just kidding!  More line...
I waited in line for about an hour and a half total and then finally entered the Golden Temple.  The temple had some great artwork and definitely created a very archaic atmosphere with the monks chanting and the historical artifacts laid out for worshippers to adorn.  There is a holy book written for the Sikh religion that is the size of a table and as thick as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy times three which is on display on the second floor.  It was cool seeing all the historical artifacts and all the people bathing in the waters outside, but after being there for 3 hours I decided to check out the rest of Amritsar.

Honestly, other than the Golden Temple, there isn't much more to see in Amritsar except for Jallianwala Bagh, which is the park where the British massacred a bunch of Indians by open-firing on a peaceful protest. 

The park is very peaceful and a nice place to relax after being surrounded by way too many people all day.  You get some R&R and some historical site seeing all in one.

The bullet holes from the British gunfire; eerie, but cool.
The one final thing I went to go see before I left Amritsar was the border closing ceremony between Pakistan and India.  You go and pay a rickshaw driver about 300 rupees and he'll take you to the border, which is a 45 minute ride there and back. Unfortunately, I didn't make it in time for the closing ceremony, but from what I heard it's a bunch of soldiers wearing funny hats uniformly doing high kicks.  

Overall, I'd say Amritsar is definitely a must-see destination solely because I was so impressed by the Golden Temple.  However, I wouldn't stay for more than a day because you can knock out all the key points of interest in an afternoon. 

I still had a great time and I hope you all visit this great place someday soon!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tour Elbert, the temple would be a must especially if it's made out pure gold that would be awesome to see. ..