Sunday, August 16, 2009

Amritsar - Bonus Visit to the Golden Temple

Barefooting!!!!!Temple Guard with a SpearAmit and I (his first visit also)Bathing in the "Pool of the Nectar of Immortality"The Temple and some visitors at Sundown

For those of you who have followed my blog for some time, you may recall my entry on a previous visit to Amritsar and how I had the chance to eat some of the best fish I had ever had in my life.

Like that visit, my second visit to Amritsar was on business to visit another hotel site that we have recently signed a management contract with. Both visits were one day excursions, but time allowed on this trip for a visit to the Golden Temple.

The city of Amritsar took its name from the lake that surrounds the Golden Temple......Amritsar translates to "The Pool of the Nectar of Immortality".

For those of you who are not familiar with the Golden Temple, I will provide you with a very brief background.

The Golden Temple is culturally the most significant place of worship of the Sikhs and one of the oldest Sikh gurdwaras.Originally built during 1574 AD, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest.During the leadership of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1581-1606), the full-fledged Temple was built. The cornerstone was laid in 1588 and the temple as it is today was completed in 1604.

Anyone who wants to enter the Darbar Sahib may do so, irrespective of religion, colour, creed or sex. The only restrictions are that the person must not drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke cigarettes or use other non prescription drugs while in the shrine. Visitors are, as well, expected to dress appropriately and everyone must cover their heads as a sign of respect, remove their shoes and socks and enter the temple barefooted. Visitors must wash their feet in the small pool of water as they enter the Darbar Sahib premises. Head scarves are provided.

Most Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Darbar Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly during special occasions such as birthdays, marriage, birth of children, etc.

Between June 3 and June 6, 1984, the Indian Army under the instruction of Indira Gandhi brought troops into the Darbar Sahib to arrest Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He and some followers had taken refuge in the Darbar Sahib, and resisted the police who sought to arrest him for suspected acts of terrorism. Many Sikhs regarded the attack as a desecration of their holiest shrine. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her bodyguards, both Sikhs, the following October.

I felt honored to have the opportunity to visit the Golden Temple and learn the history from the owner of the hotel that we will be managing there. I was able to take some fantastic photographs of the site as well during my visit......5 of which I am able to share. A visit to the Golden Temple is a must for all who visit India from abroad. Enjoy

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