We hopped another overnight train from Agra to Amritsar, which is on the India/Pakistan border in the Punjab region. Most Punjabis belong to the Sikh religion, and they are the people who wear the turbans and silver bangels and carry the big knives.
Nescafe - it's actually a cafe!! Wow, what a concept!
This is the Golden Temple, the most important temple in the Sikh religion. The Sikh people believe in equality among all everyone - the first guru was a believer in this long before equality was fashionable (16th century). Members of all castes could bathe together in the holy waters. The Sikhs are very welcoming, so everyone, no matter what religion or nationality, is welcome in this temple. Before entering, you check your shoes, cover your head, and wash your feet.
Christi's little sisters.
(Getting photos with foreigners seems to be a favorite past time in India.)
Sri Guru Tauru Singh, in his quest for enlightenment: "Don't they have pork here?"
Hippie Girl eats organic vegan gruel on the floor with the masses....
Actually, this massive dining hall serves dal (curried lentil stew), rice, chipattis, and water to about 40,000 people a day for free. All are welcome, donations are appreciated.
Massive dish-washing undertaking.
Look at that pile of plates!
Video: Eating in the dining hall.
The temple sits in the middle of a holy lake where people bathe for purity. This walkway, filled with a line of pilgrims, is the only way in to the temple.
Video: The Golden Temple.
These Sikh fish are looking for their portion of dal and rice... They live in the holy water surrounding the Golden Temple.
The Golden Temple at night.
We also checked out two Hindu temples while in Amritsar. This one was like a holy House of Horrors! You follow a narrow path up and down stairs, around windy corners, and through tunnels! At points, you even have to crawl. One tunnel was filled with ankle-deep water. The images of this Hindu saint are pretty wild too. Praying or playing?
Every evening at the India-Pakistan border, the guards stage a ceremony for the closing of the border. The soldiers on both sides stamp their feet and kick their feet so high they make the rockettes look like school-girls. They fluff their feathers and show off their machismo, and the ceremony ends when they slam their gates on each other. Funny stuff!
The turnout for this odd little event is enormous. Each country chants some patriotic lines - it feels kind of like the fourth of July. Music was pumping through the loud speakers and women were dancing in the streets. Good times! But wait... what is thaaaat?????
Yeah, that!!!! Whooooooa....
But then again...
Is this any different? Tauru keeps insisting that this is where Lord Porkshnu resides.
So long Amritsar! We had a marathon travel day going up to Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama lives. We took one rickshaw, three buses (four if you count the fact that we had to alight and walk across a landslide area and re-embark on a new one), and a shared jeep. Here, we chose to sit on the roof to avoid the sardine-pack inside the bus. The joke was on us though - it poured and we got sopping wet!