How is life in Amritsar

A night in Amritsar: How the Sikhs opened my eyes in the Golden Temple

Vacation in India | 28 comments Last updated on 07/07/2020

One of the best experiences during our trip to India so far was our overnight stay in the Golden Temple of Amritsar. In this article you will learn how you can stay in the temple for free, what we learned from the Sikhs and what fascinating encounters we had in Amritsar.

Even before we saw the temple, the Aura of the temple noticeable. The pilgrims flock to the temple en masse. Some sing on their way and the clothes of the many Sikhs make you want to go to the temple as soon as you leave the rickshaw.

From the fast food places in this part of town we realized we were going to be soon a new world would enter. McDonalds, Subway and Pizza-Hut have branches here that only sell vegetarian dishes.

With a little luck, you might experience a parade on your way to the temple. We walked to the Golden Temple several times and on a Saturday evening around 6 p.m. we were able to do it Pageant including fireworks observe.

Important rules and information about the Golden Temple

We kept walking and started with the regulate that everyone in the temple must observe:

  1. Shoes and socks may not be taken into the temple. There are several places where you can hand in your shoes free of charge. Your shoe brand will be checked at the entrance.
  2. Feet and hands must be washed before entering. There are sinks and a foot basin in front of the entrance.
  3. Inside must be the Keep your head covered. You can buy a headscarf from some vendors on the access roads for 10 rupees or you can borrow one for free at the entrance. But this is already worn.
  4. The consumption of Luxury foods such as tobacco and alcohol is forbidden in the temple complex.

Before you enter the temple, you put away your backpack preferably in a luggage room (e.g. on the left in front of the main entrance).

After we passed the main entrance, I was there only once pretty flabbergasted. Although I have seen the picture of the temple several times before in Amritsar, I was still fascinated by the sight.

The Golden Temple is located in the middle of a rectangular pool, the Amrit Sarovar (nectar lake). The city name Amritsar is derived from this lake. The Water of the nectar lake is considered sacred by the Sikhs, which is why many pilgrims go swimming in the water. The golden light of the temple is reflected in the water. The nectar lake is bordered by a wide path on which the pilgrims walk clockwise. On the very outside there is a palace complex.

The Golden Temple in the middle of the Nectar Lake is the center of Sikhism and is actually called Harmandir Sahib (also Hari Mandir). Translated it means Temple of God.

Our meeting with Arvinder Singh

When we had circled the Golden Temple for the second time, we went to the forecourt to relax a little. Shortly afterwards, an old Sikh spoke to us and had some small talk with us. Finally, he invited us for a tour of the temple.

Right at the beginning he told us that all people are the same in the temple - regardless of age, nationality or religion. Those who visit the temple together are treated like a brother or sister. And fact: Arvinder Singh and Brother spoke to me regularly.

First he showed us a cooking area where vegetables were being cooked in a huge pot on a fireplace. Fit in a pot 2,000 servings.

Immediately afterwards we went to the dining hall in which hundreds of pilgrims fed for free were. Not only is the food free. One of the free offers of the Sikhs is a shuttle service between the temple and the train station, you can stay overnight in the pilgrims' home for free and you don't have to pay anything for entry to any building, including the Sikh Museum. That's what I call true hospitality!

After the dining room, Arvinder took us up a few stairs to a roof that we probably wouldn't have found ourselves. From here we could Temple complex from above admire. In addition, the proud Sikh told us about his culture and the history of the temple. Unfortunately, it was not always easy to follow what was said. Nevertheless, we were able to take a lot with us.

After we left the roof, Arvinder took us to the places where the Indian bread chapatti is made. There were two machines on one corner that did 5,000 chapattis per hour each to bake. On the other side of the hall, several groups were sitting making the bread by hand. We both were allowed to try our hand at rolling out the chapatti dough.

In a neighboring room we saw more gigantic saucepans.

Next, Arvinder showed us how to do that Cutlery and the thousands of plates are washed. The dirty aluminum dishes are brought to the first cleaning station in a human chain. From here on, the plates go through the following process:

  1. Knocking off the leftover food in a large bucket.
  2. Plates are thrown backwards, where the next Sikhs collect the plates in a huge container.
  3. As soon as the containers are full, the dishes are carried to a “washing line” where there are several washing troughs.
  4. Hundreds of pilgrims stand by these wash troughs washing the dishes.
  5. The dishes are carried from one wash trough to the next so that each plate is cleaned several times.
  6. Towards the end, the dishes keep getting cleaner and eventually they get stacked.

We noticed that no employees do the work, but that they Pilgrims clean their plates themselves. Arvinder explained that it helps the Sikhs clear their heads after eating.

We were also among the visitors to the temple, why we also stood by the washbasin and washed the dishes. Admittedly, Bina lasted a lot longer and clearly had fun doing it. I, on the other hand, found the loud clanging of the plates very uncomfortable and the situation rather stressful. But mine remained unaffected Fascination for this parallel world. Per day will be about 80,000 people fed free of charge, which works because everyone pulls together. Everyone helps with chopping vegetables, baking bread or washing up. This gave me a sense of community, as if I were part of a huge family.

How fascinating it all is conveys to you our new video. Lean back for 3 minutes and let the atmosphere sink in:

Our old brother continued to lead us around the nectar lake. He explained them to us various figures, shrines, weapons on display. The temple filled up more and more and again and again, mostly young pilgrims interrupted us, who wanted to take a photo with us. But that wasn't a problem either for us or for Arvinder. On the contrary: We actually had a lot of fun chatting with the Sikhs and having them explain the meaning of the shrines. The openness of the Sikhs is overwhelming.

After us Arvinder still through that Akal Takht (the seat of the temple administration) and supplied us with a mango shake for refreshment, we said goodbye. To do this, we exchanged WhatsApp numbers with all the Indians standing around. We only found out later what we were getting into. As we said goodbye, Arvinder explained to us again how we could best spend the night in the temple.

A unique night in the Golden Temple

After the tour we had dinner and finally one Sleeping place searched. To do this, we walked along the nectar lake. Many pilgrims had already made camp on the way. We found a small spot by a pillar and lay down on the marble floor.

We had brought a sleeping bag so that we could lie a little softer. Our backpack served as a pillow so that nobody stole anything from us. Everywhere in the temple there is a warning that pickpockets are also up to mischief in the temple complex. If you want to stay overnight in the temple, you should get yours valuables Secure as well as possible.

The night was not very restful. The floor is uncomfortable and we became Woke up at 2:30 a.m.because at this time the temple is being cleaned. We looked for a new corner to sleep, but A security guard woke us up at 4:45 a.m.by hitting the ground in front of our head with his spear. Even if we were exhausted: it was worth it. Even at night the temple has a magical aura and we would not have noticed anything if we had stayed somewhere else. Life is ticking around the clock in the Golden Temple. Even the kitchen is open 24 hours a day.

Only the Golden Temple on the Nectar Lake is closed for a few hours at night. Most guidebooks say the temple is closed from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM. Arvinder explained to us that he was just Do not enter from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. can be. Since we tried to sleep, we do not know the exact opening times.