More Magical than Taj Mahal

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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What I did
Golden Temple (Hari Mandir) Amritsar
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Wagah Border Ceremony

Flag of India  , Punjab,
Monday, March 5, 2012

The must see list for India is never ending but one sure place that I was determined to visit was the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

I got extremely lucky when I learned that Vikrant a friend from Beverly Hills Toastmasters 90210 is a native of this spiritual Punjabi city. And that Sakshi, his wife is currently residing there while studying textiles. I was invited to stay in Vikrant's family home during my two day stay. It was such a treat to see a familiar face and have the fortune of touring the city with a local.

Amritsar’s best known tourist attraction is Harmindar Sahib aka The Golden Temple. We reached the Sikh complex in time for sunset, a perfect hour for joining the mass of devotees who come to worship. Upon entrance I completely understand why this place is referred to as "the most tangibly, spiritual place in the country." I immediately felt the powerful vibration in the air as we walked the perimeter of the magnificent, gold-plated temple.

As part of the Sikh philosophy the four entrances of this holy place, from all directions, signify that people belonging to every walk of life are equally welcome. The shrine sits in the middle of a body of water and is surrounded by a compound of polished white marble buildings. The structure holds 400 rooms for pilgrims and others to sleep for either f ree or a nominal fee respectively. Additionally there is a huge dining hall where around 35,000 people a day are fed for free by temple volunteers. Instead of eating at the temple, we opted for tandoori at the best restaurant in Amritsar.

The following day, Sakshi’s role as tour leader had us on another sunset excursion. We hired a driver to take us to the daily ceremony of the changing of the guards and lowering of the flags at the Wagah border (India with Pakistan.) Basically thousands of people flock here daily to show nationalism for their respective countries. There is no dispute that the Indian bleachers hold double the attendance for this affair, something all Indians are proud of. Basically guards on both sides, in full dress uniform, display their synchronized high-stepping and foot stomping march in a friendly competition, as onlookers cheer and wave their flags high. An hour at this ceremony is a reminder of how thick the conflict is between the two nations. 
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