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  • Day17

    The Golden Finale

    March 10, 2020 in India ⋅ 🌙 7 °C

    We began our final day with a demonstration. No, not of the floral variety, but a ‘how to tie a turban’ dem from Jessie. Tony was volunteered and ended up with a very chic scarlet turban for our daytime temple visit. Between 5 and 7 metres of cotton fabric are used in every turban and to tie one is something of an art form. I had no idea there were so many versions, but I now know how individual a turban can be and some aficionados use considerably more fabric. It is mainly a male head dress, but some women also choose to wear it. Jessie was sporting a natty orange version today, as this is a celebratory colour for Sikhs and today is the Indian ‘Holi’ Colour Festival. As you may have noticed from last nights photographs of the little boys, it is customary to throw powdered paint at people in celebration. I had been warned to take something ‘disposable’ to wear in case of disaster! As a result this morning’s visit to the Golden Temple was particularly special and ultra busy. Everyone was out in their best clothes and there were some fabulous outfits on show. Indians are not frightened of colour and wear it with aplomb. We followed our route of last night and by day the contrast between the surrounding streets and the immediate Temple vicinity was even more marked. At least the rats had gone to bed! It seems incredible that the Temple is kept in such an immaculate state and yet all around people live in filth, throw rubbish everywhere and seem oblivious to the fact that they are existing in a health and hygiene nightmare. There seems to be little desire to clean anything up and it wouldn’t take much. They must have a very strong immune system. If you ask anyone about it the response is always ‘This is India’ with a shrug of the shoulders. The words convenient excuse come to mind? Sudhir, our guide feels that education is the key and it will gradually improve, but it could be generations.
    By daylight the Golden Temple sparkled in the sun and there were people massed everywhere. The scene was a glorious riot of colour. Jessie took us on a tour of the kitchen, where up to
    100,000 meals were to be served today, all prepared and served by volunteers. This is double the normal because of the Holi Festival. It is a very slick and organised system and no one is refused sustenance. There are four enormous halls where the people sit in rows on the floor and are served rice, chapati, dhal, a vegetable dish and water. A small amount only on a stainless steel divided platter. It dawned on me that this is less of a meal and more of a communion, which Jessie confirmed. We moved on to the kitchens, where the making of chapatis was in full swing. The dough is produced by a massive machine and volunteers shape and roll them out. This was our chance to get involved and so we did! I sat with one of my group on my right and two Indian ladies to my left. We all knew how to handle a rolling pin regardless of creed or nationality and I was pleased to have made a contribution. The chapatis were cooked over a huge griddle before heading out to feed the ‘five thousand’. Then there was the washing up! Oh my God, the racket, as the platters crashed against one another in the two 200ft long water troughs and thence into racks. Men washed up in one trough and women in the other. I was slightly concerned at how often the water was changed, but as we were not eating, let it pass!
    We slowly made our way out of the kitchens, past people industriously chopping garlic, onions and multiple vegetables, into the sunlight to walk around the sacred pool one last time. To our amazement all age groups wanted to have their photographs taken with us and it was a slow but friendly path to the exit gate. On our way back to collect our shoes we came across three young guys covered head to toe in Holi powder paint. We laughed with them and took a photo, at which point Lesley and I were ‘attacked’; Lesley coming off a little worse than me, but it wasn’t disastrous, just fun. It has been a real honour to have visited the Golden Temple another of India’s world class monuments and a fitting finale.
    Our day concluded with a visit to the Summer Palace of the last Maharajah of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh (all Sikhs have Singh in their surname). This is the man who paid for the 24 carat gold coating of the Golden Temple and the original owner of the Koihnoor diamond. The enormous diamond was originally set in the bejewelled Peacock Throne made for Shah Jahan in 1628, before being pillaged to Persia and passing through countless hands before being secured by the Maharajah as a spoil of war. There is some controversy here as to how it then came into the hands of Queen Victoria, but it is at least displayed for all to see in the Imperial Crown. . The summer palace and garden need a considerable amount of restoration, which is now being undertaken. Local lads were playing cricket on a dirt pitch - no wonder they can handle spin. You will see this everywhere and cricket is undoubtedly the national game. On our way back to the coach we came across an Indian version of a pop up lolly shop, if you can call it that and stopped to watch. A large block of ice is shaved on very sharp embedded blade, moulded into the lolly shape and then natural flavourings of lime, lemon and orange poured over it in syrup form. Ingenious and the equivalent of 20pence.

    And so, inevitably we headed back to the hotel to commence the big pack up for the long journey home. It is hard to sum up the last two and a half weeks in mere words. Our group have been friendly and great fun and we have enjoyed sharing this experience together. The organisation has been faultless. India is a culture shock to the westerner and you need to observe, accept and not judge its centuries old traditions. It is a land of immense contrasts in every respect, with an ethos all of its own. Ninety five percent of marriages are still arranged, the caste system is still all encompassing and as a western woman it is hard to handle the inequality between the sexes. A woman still cannot attend her husband’s funeral. The senses are assaulted on every level. It is colourful, challenging, full of beauty, artistry, squalor and at times overwhelming. I can honestly say, this trip has been a risk worth taking: we have stayed well and loved every minute of it. I am so grateful to have had the chance to have just touched the surface of this fascinating country. There is seriously nowhere like India! Thank you Lesley for coming with me. Something so beautiful is always better shared.
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    Wendy Roberts

    Beautiful memories, beautiful photographs! Safe journey home. xxx

    Lesley Harrison

    Thank you Dulcie for your enthralling descriptions Some of the places brought back memories of our trip many moons ago. Your photos will remind you of your wonderful trip. Safe onward journey xx

    The Travel Bug

    Pleased you have enjoyed the trip Lesley and it’s brought back happy memories. They will live with me for a lifetime - a marvellous experience. Dx

  • Day90


    December 18, 2016 in India ⋅ 🌫 19 °C

    Amritsar beviel ons enorm! De stad staat gekend om twee dingen. Enerzijds de prachtige 'Golden Temple', het mekka van het Sikhisme (een interessante religie die rond openheid en gelijkheid draait). Elke dag wordt er eten voorzien voor 100.000 mensen door vrijwilligers! Anderzijds het heerlijke eten :). We konden een foodtour dan ook niet links laten liggen! Verder bezochten we ook een crazy tempel die meer leek op een hindernissenparcours dan een heiligdom (zie Laura's elegante pose).Read more

    Miel Degang

    Machine die dagelijks 200.000 chapati's produceert.

    Jenka Mergaert



    Ik wil ook zo'n tulband

  • Day16

    Amritsar and the Golden Temple

    March 9, 2020 in India ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Here we are after two and half glorious weeks in India at our final port of call, Amritsar. Our day started early, yet again, and we caught the 5.30 am train from Chandigarh to Amritsar, which is a 4 hr journey. Drinks and snacks are constantly offered, from tea and coffee, cold omelettes, vegetable patties, biscuits and crisps. Note that British Rail cannot manage a drinks trolly! I have to say I avoided everything bar the crisps, as they were outside my ‘safe’ category, but they were available. We alighted on to a heaving platform at Amritsar and slowly made our way out of the station accompanied by a couple of cows strolling along amidst the crowd. No one took a blind bit of notice, even when one of them anointed the platform in their honour!
    The evening saw us depart for the evening ceremony at the Golden Temple. Amritsar is the centre of The Sikh religion which is approximately 500 years old and believes in equality between genders, kindness and charity to all and welcomes everyone, regardless of religion, to their holy temple. We travelled as far as possible by coach and then by mad rickshaw, to within walking distance. The streets are dark and thronged with people, particularly bearing in mind it is the Holi Festival tomorrow, so all Sikhs that can, wish to worship at the temple. It is unsurprisingly an enormous complex and you enter the inner sanctum through a arched gateway, barefoot and modestly covered, including the head for both men and women, via a shallow foot bath.The archway is deep and stepped and when you arrive at the top of the steps there before you glitters the 24 carat golden temple in its sacred pool. It is a quite unbelievable sight, especially lit up at night. ‘Jessie’ our guide (name too long and complicated to pronounce!) explained all that was going to happen and some of us stood in the holy water, whilst taking in the sight of the faithful at worship, some prostrate, others immersing themselves in the pool. There were beautifully decorated prayer rooms all around the waters edge, where elders were reading aloud from the holy scripture and the white marble that is everywhere underfoot is cool to the feet. On Jessies’s instruction we headed to the temple itself, to witness the parade of the original holy scripture (Sri-Gur Granth Sahib) to its place of rest for the night, (it is a four poster bed!) amidst much chanting and veneration. The temple itself is even more beautiful in reality than from photographs, the interior heavily decorated with gold and painted surfaces, golden doors, jewel coloured carpets and stunning chandeliers, over two floors. Again, to our surprise, we were allowed full access. The Sikh religion is certainly inclusive. To our amazement, once the Holy Book was put to bed for the night, out came the Brasso! I should explain that there are brass vessels, railings and handrails everywhere and volunteers set to with a will to clean any brass in sight. This is apparently a nightly task, as is the brushing and beating of the carpets. By the time we came to exit the temple complex and reclaim our shoes, pilgrims were bedding down for the night, in alcoves and anywhere they could find, directly on to the marble floor with a thin blanket covering. This is perfectly acceptable and they must be a hardy breed, as it cannot be comfortable. We returned to our hotel elated at having witnessed such a ceremony and with the prospect of more to come tomorrow.
    Today was Lesley’s birthday and it was certainly a day with a difference. We had a glass of something sparkling ( not the best in truth) and had our photograph taken to mark the occasion
    (again not the best, but at our age when is it !?).
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  • Day3

    stimmungsvolles Amritsar

    October 31, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Besuch des goldenen Tempels, das höchste Heiligtum der Sikhs. Hier herrscht eine wunderbare, friedliche Stimmung. Man hört die rezitierten Verse und die Musik sowohl im Tempel als auch in den angrenzenden Strassen der Stadt. Wir begegnen hier sehr freundlichen, offenen Menschen.

    Sehr gut schmeckt auch das leckere Punjab food. Hier werden die Speisen allesamt mit viel Butter zubereitet.

    Wir wohnen im Amritsar Grant. Das Hotel hat erst seit 3 Monaten geöffnet und ist für uns von der Lage gut. Mit einem Spaziergang erreicht man die Innenstadt und den Goldenen Tempel.
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  • Day3

    Attari Border crossing near Amritsar

    October 5, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    There is a ceremony here enacted by both India and Pakistan for the flag lowering. It goes on for quite a bit of time. I couldn't see much of the Pakistan side given where we were in the seats, but it looked like both nation's honor guards mirrored each other. Lots of noise, parading, cheering, and what looked like nationalism. They did drop the flags concurrently when they got to it.
    The first pic is the stadium from the outside. That is the seating for spectators. The next 2 are of some of the honor guard parading. Next is a pic of the big screen looking into Pakistan. The last two are of the final action at the border and the lowering flags
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  • Day88

    Random Post: Straatfauna in India

    December 16, 2016 in India ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    Hierbij een kleine impressie van wat we in India op straat tegenkomen! Duizenden straathonden, koeien die chillen in het midden van de drukste wegen, kameel & kar, zwijnen die in hopen afval wroeten en apen die maar al te graag je eten stelen!Read more

    Agnes Degang

    eindelijk ingeslaagd jullie ook te volgen! Patriek en Agnes

    Hanne Vyncke


    Michiel Van Ooteghem

    Da wijs maat!

    Elke Vermeiren

    och die puppies

  • Day3

    Golden Temple

    October 5, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    The main temple of Sikhism. The first pic is of the main temple at night. Yes, it is made of gold. Next is the main gate. One if the main principles of Sikhism is service. They say that the world's largest kitchen is here. They serve 200,000 meals every day, all without charge, to anyone. Note: this is not a misprint. It really is 200,000 meals per day. The next 3 pics are of various parts of the kitchen: a machine making chipati; making curry; and dishwashing by hand. The last looks at one of the dining rooms.Read more

  • Day4

    Attari - Grenze Indien / Pakistan

    November 1, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    An diesem Grenzübergang wird allabendlich eine Grenzparade abgehalten. Sie ist, vor allem für die Einheimischen, ein großes Spektakel.
    Für uns war es befremdlich den Eingang zum Gelände für "Ausländer" zu nehmen un damit einen bevorzugten Eintritt sowie eine schnellere Sicherheitskontrolle zu bekommen. Außerdem gibt es für Ausländer eine extra ausgewiesene Tribüne.Read more

  • Day4


    October 6, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Holy city for the Sikhs. The Golden Temple is THE temple for Sikhism (see another post). The first 2 pics here are of street scenes, one day, one night. Next is an interesting building. The last two are of the memorial garden on the site of a massacre by the British a bit over 100 years ago. The monument is on the shape of a bullet. If you look at the last picture closely, you will see some white squares. These denote bullet marks left from that day.Read more

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