Ram Tirath Hindu Temple

Trip Start Jun 14, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Lucky Guest House

Flag of India  , Punjab,
Saturday, July 17, 2010

This morning we arose early due to predictions of extreme heat – 50 C – luckily it did not feel that bad and even looked like we may get some rain. After a quick breakfast of Indian bread and yogurt, we arranged for a taxi to take us 13 km west of Amritsar to the Hindu temple of Ram Tirath.

We were initially a bit cautious as we had a driver and another man accompanying him but we were confident in our treatment from the local people and that we had arranged the ride through our hotel which caters to westerners.  Settled in for the ride, off we set through the streets and soon were heading out of the city into increasingly rural landscape.  Nancy had been missing the greenery of rural life so she was able to breathe the sweeter air of rice paddies, corn fields--herds of bullocks added to the bubolic break from the city.  The paved road soon gave way to more neglected and unfinished road on which stretches of improvements were being made.  After 15 minutes or so we arrived at our destination.

This temple was described in a similar fashion to the Mata temple in that it had labyrinthine style cave walks and many caved deities.  Again we were awestruck by the colourful deities and mirrored walls. We followed the cave pathways and received blessings of puffed rice, red forehead markings and a brass prayer hat with the bestowal of a prayer.  We felt very ignorant in our knowledge of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and yet we were warmly accepted and encouraged to participate.

Another point of interest inside was a metal tank containing the famous 'floating stone' – legend says it was one of many stones that Rama’s army used to cross the ocean.  As part of the temple outside, easily seen from a vast distance, was a huge statue of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey God.  On the exit of the temple we received another blessing of a red bracelet and forehead markings.

Once outside the temple we were encouraged to explore the area behind the temple and then realized the vastness of the temple grunds.  It became apparent that this area was once as grand a setting perhaps as the Golden Temple.  The water tank that would have been the centrepiece of the grounds where devotees would bathe in the holy waters of its ghats (steps) was only filled at one end and damned off from the dried and neglected expanse of tank that appeared at least as large as the magnificent tank at the Golden temple.  There were several smaller temples around the tank but the whole area was in disrepair.  Terence had read a thread of an online Hindu discussion lamenting the need for supportive funding for this important Hindu temple, thousands of years old on the site where a part of the Ramayana was written by one of Lord Ram’s sons. There seemed to be thread discussion agreement that road improvements and direct government support are badly needed to make it more accessible for Hindu pilgrims and tourists. 

We were soon back to our awaiting taxi and whizzing along the roads back towards Amritsar.  This was the road we had taken was toward a Pakistan border checkpoint and an area of conflict in the many hostile engagements over time between the Indian and Pakistani forces. During this time of relative peace it is a tourist attraction that we declined to visit. It became apparent to us that perhaps part of the explanation for the neglect and partially demolished and shuttered buildings along the way was because of the years of unrest and conflict between India and Pakistan in this entire area. It probably has been to the detriment of the temple that here there is a much smaller Hindu population and the tourist draw seems almost exclusively for the Golden Temple.

Our taxi driver took a truly bewildering maze of back streets and alleys to return us to our  hotel.  Although Nancy tried to pick up images on the camera from the backseat, it was impossible to capture the sensual overload of shops of every sort and the chaotic pedestrian travel woven through motor scooters, horses and carts, dogs, and bicycles, which seemed like an endless scene from the Twighlight Zone.  It was an illuminating and exciting adventure to start our day.  Now we’re back to our hotel room to cool off and hydrate with water.
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Heather on

I especially like the photo of Terence aka Indiana Jones entering the mouth of the crocodile

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