The land of the Sikhs

We finally decided to come down from the mountains and return to mainland India.  Our first stop was Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, the holiest place of worship for the Sikhs.  In a way it was a return to a previous time period as we met many pilgrims wearing traditional robes, complete with swords, shields and large, brightly coloured and fancifully adorned turbans.  The people we met were very friendly and constantly approaching us to ask where we were from and if they could take our picture.

Our hotel in Amritsar was less than desirable.  We were woken up two nights in a row at 3:00 in the morning but, on the bright side, after slaughtering the mosquito army, we got to listen to the ethereal music (singing and tabla) floating up from the center of the golden temple where they have a 24 hour chant, best heard when the incessant honking from the street has finally died down for the night.

Our first night we arrived for Diwali, the festival of lights.  We decided to try and see the Golden Temple that night but underestimated how busy it would be.  After standing in line for over and hour we decided  that maybe this wasn’t the best time to try and get into the temple.  We did however get to see the fireworks from the center of the temple complex.  Standing beside the Golden Temple in the middle of the pool of nectar there were fireworks all around, sometimes showering the neighbouring crowds with pieces of burning phosphorous.  This display began a chain of fireworks throughout the entire city that lasted until 2:00 in the morning.