For years, I wanted to visit Golden temple of Amritsar. When we went to Manali, the plan was to return via Amritsar. But it didn’t happen. A month or so ago I expressed my desire to Arora and as usual he made it happen. Yamuna wanted to have an outing with Aroras too. He is so much a helping person in the matters that I couldn’t learn in the whole of my life.
Host and guests
We drove to Ludhiana on last Thursday and became the guests for Amit and Rakhi in Rajgurunagar, Ludhiana. That was the way Mr. Arora wished. We were very hesitant at first, as we felt it was troublesome for the host. But the hosting couple was wonderful. The young couple provided exemplary hospitality and respect too about which we, the elders grumble. They took us to a beautiful dining outlet ‘Haveli’ and offered their bedrooms against all our requests for not doing so for our comfort. They themselves slept in the living room. Their son Sahib was the main attraction for me to be with them. He was so good and playful all the time. The drive through Ludhiana was sufficient to convince that it is one of the fastest growing cities of India. However, it must be one of the most polluted too.
At Jalianwala Bag
In afternoon on Friday we reached Amritsar, and settled in Sidhaarth Niwas, a hotel near the Golden Temple. After a wonderful lunch of Kulchas, we visited Jalianwala Bag that reminds one of the freedom struggles. The entrance is unimpressive and poorly maintained. The tourism department and the municipality can certainly make it more attractive for visitors. The story of the butchery by an English General can get into a mind-shattering light and sound programme. The martyrs certainly deserve a better and grander memorial. Unfortunately, we as nation are very poor in that. All our administrators and political leaders are just callous about it.
At Wagha Border
We reached Wagha Border with Pakistan via Attari by 4.30PM. It was a great scene with some 20-30,000 spectators to watch the retreat function. BSF jawans were playing patriotic songs. Groups of kids from schools were dancing to the enjoyment of the spectators. The occasional loud and spirited slogans of ‘Hindustan- Jindabaad’, ‘Vande- Mataram’ were reverberating the atmosphere. At 5.30PM, the rituals of retreat started. It was very difficult to see the proceedings because of the distance and location. Digital display screens at right places through CCTV could have certainly made the proceeding of retreat more enjoyable for the thousands of spectators who come every day to watch it. As I could understand from a conversation with one officer of BSF, they may have it soon.
Harmandar Sahib in night and morning
On return, we went straight to the Golden Temple known as Darbar Sahib. It was a unique experience for me. The flowing water channel to clean the feet of visitors before they enter the shrine is a unique idea and must be emulated at other temples in India. It is huge and beautiful campus with gold sheet covered Harimandar Sahib in a big tank of water (nectar). I got reminded of Shershah Tomb in Sasaram and Pawapuri’s Jain shrine. Akal Takhat on one side reminded me of the dark days of 1982 and how some rogues could make the whole nation ashamed of what happened here.
We joined into huge and highly disciplined queue through Darshni Deodhi and Holy Bridge, and made our head touch the floor in front of Guru Granth Sahib in Harmandar Sahib. Next morning I was ready by 5 AM finishing my bathe and ‘path’ of Sundarkand for Saturday. Yamuna didn’t join us. We went to Harmandar Sahib again. Majority of the visitors at this time was of the followers of Sikh faith from far and near unlike the night when I assume the majority was in favour of the people of the other faiths. Why can’t all Hindu temples try to be like this? Surprisingly, many faithful ones work to provide all the services to the visitors including cleaning and wiping at the shrine.
However, I was surprised that there was no restriction on taking camera, video or cell phone inside the temple and using them anywhere. Are the people in management of the shrine not afraid of terrorists attack here? When I raised this question with Arora, his answer was lighthearted and humorous. “How can the petty terrorists dare to face the masters or be not afraid of the consequences?” But perhaps, most of our temples such as Aksaradham are overdoing the security drills causing a lot of inconvenience to the visitors. Perhaps the managers of Harmandar Sahib must train those from the other temples and shrines about the security tips. Durgiana Temple built by Hindus of the city has tried to copy Harmandar Sahib. But Hindus don’t even copy well. We visited it while leaving Amritsar for Noida where we could reach by 11.30 PM on Saturday.