Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘Golden Temple’

The Burning Bodies of Varanasi

In India on June 13, 2010 at 10:47 am

While ze German chilled out on the rooftop of a jazz cafe smoking blunts and the Brits saw all the temples of the city, I, for my first two days in Varanasi, was in bed. Of the first 48 hours in India’s holiest city, I was asleep for 40 of them, interspersed with multiple trips to the hole in the floor for a quick hover and an indian style wipe. If you hadn’t yet guessed it, I had a bad case of diarrhea.

When I finally did get out of bed to see the sights of the city I was hit by the stench of cow shit. There are probably more cows here per square mile than on the average South American cattle ranch. They’re everywhere, even more than in Delhi! I’ve even seen them lounging in someones front room. Yesterday I was stood behind a man while we waited to walk past a cow as it pissed and he just proceeded to walk straight through it after, barefoot.

The view from the guesthouse rooftop restaurant

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The Amazing Golden Temple of Amritsar and a Patriotic Display to Remember

In India on May 4, 2010 at 6:02 am

When we arrived in Amritsar off the bus we were standardly besieged by a bunch of rickshaw drivers all vying for our business. We chose one and tried three hotels that were all full so we ended up in the delightfully scummy Hotel Paris. Champes Elysee chic it was not. After a quick shower we were off out to the Jewel in Amritsar’s crown, the Sikh Golden Temple. It really is an amazing sight, especially as we visited at dusk. I was surprised there weren’t actually that many tourists in the complex so we had to have our pics taken with quite a few Indians. After perusing the temple at a leisurely pace we went to the infamous free dining hall for a respectable meal of dal, chapati and come delicious rice pudding. We then got a two hour tour of the kitchen area and were told all about Sikhism but an ethusiastic volunteer guide. The best bit about the Golden Temple is not the forty odd pillars they stole from the Red Fort in Delhi, It’s not the intricate gold carvings and marble inlays, it is the chapati machine! That beast is working 24 hours a day to feed the 60-80,000 visitors per day. It can make 7,000 chapatis an hour. All in a Bertha style fashion.

eeeeyyyyyyy theeerrreeee, I’ve found the building of gold mi hearties

Sunday morning we were up early to hit two more essential Amritsar tourist spots. First up was the Hindu cave temple, the Mata Temple. Compared to its Amritsari brother the Golden Temple, the Mata Temple seemed a bit gimmicky. Perhaps it is disrespectful to say so, it is a holy place after all but I think I was expecting some kind of underground network of caves with stalactites and natural pools. It was good fun climbing through the man-made cave like walkways and the paintings were vibrant but I wouldn’t say it was a must visit. We did however get some amazing naan bread style snack smeared with herb butter stuffed with what I think was parsnip from a street restaurant just outside.

Theme parkesque caves at the Mata Temple, Amritsar

The afternoon was taken up with a trip to the India/Pakistan border for the daily border closing display. A fantastic demonstration of patriotism that the English can only muster 10 tins down during an England semi-final. Perhaps it is because we were sat for over an hour and a half on concrete but I think the festival like build up to the event was actually better than the leg throwing antics of the soldiers.

Flying the flag for Hindustan

Of course the draw of free food at the Golden Temple could not be resisted for too long, so we headed back there for Sunday’s evening meal. After stop offs at a chicken restaurant in the dodgy alcoholic area of town where Minja got a rock thrown at her and Dominos pizza for a one pound margarita. They change the menu every four hours at the temple so it was aloo gobi for supper followed by a spot of volunteering. Filip and I handed out the chai bowls to visiting pilgrims for 15 minutes which was greatly appreciated by the old sikh men and mad me feel not so bad for taking the extra chapati and double round of tea. 

Paying for my chapati