Setting off bright and early we headed for The Golden Temple in Amritsar. Otherwise known as the Sikh headquarters. It was around a three hour drive. The roads in Punjab seem much cleaner and smoother than in other parts of India.
We stopped off for a delicious typical breakfast – aloo prantha. The motorway restaurant unlike ones in the UK served very nice food and was reasonably priced.
Driving along the highway once more, I saw tents lining the road. Black tarpaulin plastic was stretched over wooden poles coated in light-brown dust. There were better established huts made from mud with straw roofs.
People sat on flimsy chairs outside appearing not to have anywhere to be. They were watching the cars pass and staring vacantly into space. Did they just count the minutes, hours and days?
Others sat around in circles calmly chatting. I could see men’s bones poking through their skin. They were clearly malnourished. The scorching sun was beating down on them while insects disturbed them. Veins bulged out of their skin – biologies attempt to bring blood to the surface to cool them down.
Moments later citizens with large stomaches slowly crossed the road. People are either very skinny or overweight. The extremes of the spectrum are apparent.
Small children wearing torn t-shirts seemed to have bundles of energy. They were running in flip flops or with bare feet down the main road. Why were they not at school?
Approaching the thriving city Amritsar, there was a lot of traffic. It is a popular destination. Parking up we walked through the crowds to the temple. The streets in Amritsar are well kept and fairly clean. Tourist shops were dotted along the pavement.
At the temple entrance we removed our shoes, exchanged them for a ticket, washed our feet and entered the holy temple.
The grounds are huge and the temple plated in emaculate gold.
Men sat singing while crowds walked past. It was extremely busy. Many pushed past in order to collect the free food being handed out. Elbows nudged and hands dragged shoulders back.
Everyday the temple feeds thousands of people for no charge. It was refreshing to see a religious facility helping everyone no matter how rich or poor they may be or what religion they belonged to. This is one of the teachings of Sikhism – not to differentiate between sexes or class. Sikhism ignores the caste system.
There was a man wearing a very large turban. People took their pictures with him. He is said to be a god like figure that is worshiped.
We walked around the temple water tank. It is a giant water body with fish in. Washing your feet in the holy water symbolises purification of the body. Colourful fish swam around.
People donate 20 rupees next to the many shrines, bow their heads to the floor and walk to the next one.
Sikhism is a religion of warriors. Men wear turbans, carry a knife and wear a bangle to protect themselves in battles. Sikhs fights against harmful wars and inequality. Followers promote peace between everyone and accept all people and religions.
Due to setting off early we were back in time for a sunset walk. Ropar is a beautiful village which is home to a calm flowing river.
We walked along making friends as we went. People are very curious seeing white foreigners.