Last days in India: Chandigarh and Amritsar
Our next stop was Chandigarh, a big city on the way to Amritsar. We decided to go here just for a day because it was described to us as a completely random place in India, a different India, much more civilized, clean and developed. We got really curious do see a place in India where there are no cows wandering on the streets, no trash on the sidewalks and the streets set in geometrical order, in sectors! We had to see this!
It was a nice place to visit and rest for a little bit. After the really bad hotel we stayed in Rishikesh we were looking for something just a little bit more comfortable. But that wasn’t possible, too expensive. We ended up going for dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant instead, where we paid 6 euro for a meal, which we rarely ever did!
The next day we went to visit the Fantasy Rock Gardens, apparently the second most visited tourist attraction in India, after the Taj Mahal. The gardens were cool, full of pathways in between rock walls and with many sculptures made with pieces of colourful glass. The glass sculptures and walls reminded me a little bit of Gaudi’s work from Barcelona, but not as nice of course!
In the end of the day we caught a train to Amritsar, which as we heard is not a pleasant place to be but it’s something we could not miss because it has the Famous Golden Temple.
Once again, what everyone told us turned out to be true, the city was ugly and dirty, and the weather was terribly hot, however thank god we went there because the Golden Temple was incredibly impressive and beautiful.
The temple is massive, it has a lake with a small temple in the middle, all made out of gold. And then the holy lake is surrounded by different buildings, some to pray, others to sleep in and also a few to eat. To go in, people have to leave their shoes outside and put a kerchief covering the head. It is an astonishing Sikh Temple that receives faithful people from everywhere in India plus a few tourists. There, anyone can sleep and eat for free, but of course, donations are much appreciated. On average, the temple feeds 80000 people a day, most of them believers that came from all parts of the country.
The moment we got into the temple we felt completely overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere. Inside this huge temple there were Indians everywhere, either singing or praying. There was a big ritual going on where everyone goes silently around the lake, clockwise, until they reach the Golden Temple itself. There were bells ringing throughout the place and people washing themselves in the holy water of the lake. Everyone seemed deeply focused on their prayers and tourists were nowhere to be found, except for us! It was nice, for a change, to be in such a cool place without being surrounded by tourists and flashing cameras everywhere. Even though it was full of people, they were all Sihks and true believers, thus the place was as peaceful as it could be.
We went around every possible corner of the Golden Temple, we were all shocked, we couldn’t stop looking at it. We then went to see the rest of the complex, to the surrounding buildings. Inside the place where the meals were served there were giant “shopping carts” full of metal plates inside, millions and millions of plates all gathered in a big pile to feed all those people that pass by the temple daily. We were told that the temple lives merely of donations, no more money is needed!
The feeling of going in the Golden Temple was as amazing as the one I had when I went in Taj Mahal. Both are equally impressive and incredibly beautiful! It was definitely the best way to say goodbye to India!
Later that night we caught a night train back to Delhi to get our flight to Nepal. It was a 10 hour night trip that seemed more like 10 minutes, we slept the whole time like babies!!
We are now back in Kathmandu where we have a day to relax before flying back home!