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PICS: The Golden Temple, an oasis of calm and tranquility

Last updated on: September 28, 2012 18:40 IST

PICS: The Golden Temple, an oasis of calm and tranquility

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Nisha Jha

Covering my head, I crossed the threshold after dipping my unshod feet in flowing water meant for washing feet and entered the temple premises.

The moment I was inside, I felt I had arrived in a different world. The chanting of hymns and the spiritually calming atmosphere took me into a trance-like state.

It was afternoon; the sun was in the mood to flaunt its ability to scorch before it could call it a day.

I was at the complex of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, one of the holiest shrine of the Sikhs.


Photographs: Nisha Jha

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Standing at the center of the holy tank (Sarovar), Sri Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple is constructed with marble and overlaid with gold plating while the interior is decorated with fresco work and gemstones.

The security guards in their saffron colored robes positioned every few meters, watched alertly as they occasionally helped people. But mostly they stood motionless, holding their spears, with only their sharp eyes moving.


Image: A Sikh devotee takes a dip in the pond at the Golden temple on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in Amritsar
Photographs: Munish Sharma/Reuters

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Pics: The Golden Temple, an oasis of calm and tranquility

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I could see people of all ages taking dip in the holy water. There was a boy with crutches going down the steps of the tank with the help of his friends.

There were elderly people with folded hands praying and slowly immersing themselves in the water. A few steps down, is a long thick chain to keep devotees from going beyond that point.

At the women's section of the Sarovar, even as I thought that the continuous movement was making the floor dangerously slippery, I saw a woman on her knees continuously mopping the wet floor! I could see such selfless gestures everywhere in the precinct.

I felt apprehensive about clicking pictures. It was not a place for a photo shoot; people come here to worship, offer prayers and find solace. I did not want to disturb their sanctity.


Photographs: Nisha Jha

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Bare feet I moved forward, saw a foreigner, probably a Japanese, wearing a hat standing in a corner with his tripod clicking pictures. I took my chance, asked a guide who nodded without uttering a word. My first photo of the place just happened.

Not that photography was not allowed. But I felt very awkward to hold a camera in my hand while the hands of every single person I looked at were either folded in prayer or serving the community in one form or the other.

But as a traveller I need to capture my experiences and show to those who are interested in knowing about it.

I sat on the edge of the tank cherishing my moment of calmness. There was no hurry. The hot air turned into a cool breeze blowing off the tank water. The multi-colored fish also felt safe in the water and continued playing. Close by sat a father chanting hymns while watching over his little daughter squealing with joy while attempting to catch those fish.


Photographs: Nisha Jha

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People from different fields, religions and faiths were queued up for a darshan of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs. The temple welcomes all and gives them a sense of serenity however disturbed they may be.

I did not want to leave. The sun had set and it was dark. The reflection of the lights danced on the water. While during the day you see people offering prayers, mopping, guiding, serving food and water; in the nights you see beauty and peace of this place.

The tinkling sound, the reflection and the calmness of night had set in.

Contented, I bade goodbye to the place promising myself another visit to be immersed in its spiritual atmosphere.

How to get there – Around 450 km north of Delhi, the Golden Temple in Amritsar can be reached by air, train or by bus. There are plenty of hotels and dharamsalas available for accommodation.

Nisha Jha is one of the very few Indian solo women globe travellers, having travelled to around 25 countries. She vouches for voluntourism and nothing excites her more than learning and relishing life's simple little pleasures about new places, people and cultures. She calls her website "Le Monde - A Poetic Travail", where she writes about her sweet and sour experiences around this globe.

Want to share your travel story and pictures? Simply write in to getahead@rediff.co.in (subject line: 'My Travel Story'), along with pictures of the destination you're writing about. We'll publish the best ones right here on rediff.com!


Photographs: Munish Sharma/Reuters

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