October 16th - Amritsar to Mcleodganj

Amritsar is the location of the Sikh religion's holiest site, the Golden Temple. We took a tuk-tuk for the two mile ride to the temple. As required by Sikh law we had to remove our shoes and socks and wear a scarf on our heads. These were being sold for 10 rupees. Nothing can prepare you for the magnificence of the Golden Temple. It is quite simply one of the most beautiful places we have seen.

The Temple itself is located at the centre of a square pool of water surrounded by white marble buildings and other temples. You walk clockwise around the pool and at one end of the pool is a causeway along which you walk to the temple. All the time Sikh prayers are being chanted and accompanied by music and broadcast on loudspeakers. All around the pool Sikhs are bathing themselves in the holy waters. We queued up with hundreds of pilgrims to see the temple. The temple is wonderfully decorated, both inside and out, with the dome, walls and ceiling, covered in gold and silver. The Sikh priests were seated and reading the prayers from one of their holy books, whilst others were chanting and playing their musical instruments. Pilgrims were seated on the floor reading from prayer books; others were covering themselves in water from the pool. I hope the photos below do justice to this incredibly beautiful place.

In all we spent nearly an hour at the temple before we headed for the site of one of the grimmest occurrences in British colonial rule, the massacre at Jallianwala, just a short distance from the Golden Temple. This occurred in 1919, when General Dyer opened fire on a group of unarmed Indian protesters and slaughtered either 2,000 according to the Indians or 379 according to the British. Either way, it was a terrible event.

There is a memorial to the victims, including an eternal flame, set in a large garden. I took a photo of the notice at the entrance to the memorial which tells the story of the massacre from the Indian viewpoint. I hope it is readable.

We returned to our hotel, collected our car, and then drove 200 kms up into the Himalayan foothills for our stay at Mcleodganj. On the way we encountered much evidence of rain damage from the monsoon. One bridge was so badly damaged that we were forced to ford the river. With water up to 2 feet deep it was quite a challenge. The first picture below is of Bob and Thelma Howells ploughing through the water creating quite a bow wave!

The second photo is of Jim Carr with his 'slightly' damaged Range Rover.

One surreal sight on the journey was in one of the many small towns we drove through - a MiG 15 fighter jet on a stand at the side of the road. Why it was there I don't know, just another memory to treasure of our tour of India.

The view from our hotel room down into the valley as the sun was setting.

Finally, at the meal this evening we celebrated the birthday of Alan Crisp. From the photo you can see how silly some of the participants are!!

Happy birthday Alan, I didn't mean it!

No comments: