If you dare to climb the train line that feeds North-West of Delhi, close to the Pakistan border, you will come across a city called ‘Amritsar’.
The dusty roads and beaten walls are nothing special in the presence of your soul, and as you walk through this city when you first arrive, you may wonder where the beauty lies.
You may feel, as I did, a certain Aura around the streets you walk. If you feel that, you have not wasted your time.
Amritsar is a famous city, also known as “The Holy City”. It is famous for a beacon of light, of hope, (as all of India is). It is famous for Harmandir Sahib… or The Golden Temple. See below:
The Golden Temple is considered the holiest Gurdwaras (a place of worship) for Sikh’s.
However if you do not follow Sikhism do not fear. It was constructed so that all men and women, of all races, beliefs and castes, could come and find a place of worship and hope, an oasis quite metaphorically if not also somewhat, literally.
Though this city holds not much else for backpackers unless you are a devout Sikh or Hindi, it is well worth the 24 hour visit.
We had heard such great things about this ‘Golden Temple’ that we had to examine it for ourselves. We thought perhaps, our friends, other backpackers like ourselves, were quite diluted in thinking this temple was nothing more than a mere tourist attraction. Nothing to write home about but a MUST-SEE because well, why not?
However the more I heard about this Temple, and the sheer presence of being in its surroundings, I was intrigued and much more inclined to see it for myself. I held my breath and hoped it wasn’t another Taj Mahal experience. (Over-crowded, under-stimulating).
What we found, after a 8 hour train ride from Delhi that was delayed by 10 hours (standard India), was worth the visit, worth the wait.
As someone who is not religious what so ever, I never thought I would enter a place of worship and feel so humbled, so… completely taken by what stood before me. But this is how I felt on entering the Golden Temple.
Unlike my experience at the Taj Mahal, or any of the beautiful churches I have visited in Europe or anywhere else, I was completely enthralled.
The beauty of this place was not only the temple its self but the feeling that captured each human that walked through its walls.
The Temple was of course, filled with people, from all walks of life. But, the people didn’t bother me, like how I was once bothered by all the tourists surrounding me in the Taj Mahal, fighting for photos and waking around aimlessly staring at their phones.
These people were plenty, but they were there for the right reasons. Their faces lit up each time they looked up to see the golden shrine shining in the simmer of the afternoon light. The temple reflected itself along the clean flowing water that surrounded its moat.
The beauty was within each person (mostly Indians of course, I think we were the only white people there) who had travelled no doubt long distances just to get a glimpse of this holy place.
I have walked into temples before, into churches, and I have seen its beauty, its joy that it brings to some.
But I have never really felt apart of any of it.
That’s fine by me because as I said, I am not religious… But to experience walking into a place that holds their beliefs, but welcomes, and I mean TRULY welcomes everyone from all walks of life… is somewhat a miraculous thing. Don’t you think?
Peace. I felt at peace. I felt I could fall asleep sitting by the waters edge. For a minute, sitting cross-legged, I had closed my eyes and my mind was blank.
No thoughts of what I would eat for dinner, what we would do tomorrow or who I had to email. I was just right there in that moment.
Without any kind of meditative techniques, without any form of breathing or seeking or feeling, I mastered something, if not for a moment, that I had been trying to work on for quite some time. I quietened my mind, the canvas was blank, and I felt a true presence of peace.
Whether you find this at home, or in a far away land, isn’t it moments like these we all feel compelled to… well, FEEL. For some these moments come rare, and others are gifted them more often than the rest.
Me? I am feeling them more often, it’s not an escape from the outside world, it’s a reassurance that I am following the right road, that my happiness is plenty.
For this alone I am thankful for my visit to Amritsar, I am thankful that the road I am on led me to ‘The Holy City’.