Saturday, March 23, 2013

Adventuring in Amritsar

We made our way to the Punjab state to visit a very famous Sikh temple in Amritsar called the Golden Temple. It's a huge tourist destination for Indians so it was cool to see so many locals on vacation or pilgrimages.

Walking around, people were just as interested in us as we were in them!! Lots of people asked us to take a photo with them, which they call "a snap." "Hello sir," they said shyly, sticking out their hands for a handshake. "May I have one snap?" they said, as they held up their cameras. We always said yes. Once one person plucked up the courage to ask, others joined in and we once had a bit of a line to take a picture with us! One mother handed me her baby to hold for a picture, which I loved. If they give me a baby to play with, I'll take as many pictures as they want! 

We visited a couple parks in the city, including one where over 1500 unarmed Indians were shot down by the British military in 1919 in Jallianwala Bagh public garden. There is a tiny museum with pictures and paragraphs about what happened there and in the rear of the garden, walls with the original bullet holes. It was clearly stated that this was a place to respect what had happened there and the people who had lost their lives. It was the cleanest place we've seen in India (with public trash cans!) and the gardens and monuments were very beautiful. 

We also went to a Hindu temple called Mata Temple which has been compared to a fun house by many. There are idols in every direction, mosaics of every color and with mirrors, places you have to crawl through, and even a pool of water to splash through. The walkway through all this seemed like more of a tourist pleaser than an actual temple, as there were men sitting at tables asking for donations. The more serious (but no less vibrant) temple was downstairs. 

Lastly, we went to see the famous and highly elaborate closing of the Indian/Pakistan boarder at Wagha. It is a huge show with screaming fans, military marching with high kicks, music, and heaps and tons of patriotism. It was quite a show and well worth the trip to the border. 


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