We had the whole of today to ourselves, so off we went once refreshed, for a walk around the locality.
First, an image from the hotel roof terrace. Two elephants can be seen working for their living amongst the busy traffic.
Then it was off for our walk, re-learning the skills required to cross the roads and arrive at the other side, rather than in hospital or worse.
Once we had remembered how to do this - it is just a matter of walking into the traffic with your hand up, weaving around the vehicles and hoping they stop, (although don't attempt this in front of local buses as they tend to have no working brakes)!
We decided to walk around the block, before returning to the hotel for some more rest and a cool down - the weather is hot and sunny.
Here is another contender for the Amritsar branch of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel...
Again an old colonial building, now in ruins and just abandoned, that once must have been a spectacular property.
After our afternoon siesta we chose to eat out. We looked at the Lonely Planet website and found that one of the very best rated restaurants in the area was just down the road. A short walk brought us a welcome greeting from the friendly door staff. We ordered authentic Indian chicken curries, with rice and garlic naan and the reviews lived up to their name. We followed our main course with the house speciality, hot sizzling chocolate brownie with ice cream. A spactacular hot plate arrived at the table which true to its description, sizzled violently when the hot sauce was poured on. Delicious, although the image doesn't do the real thing justice, particularly as I almost forgot to take it and missed the best bit.
The ladies had sweet fresh lime sodas to complete their meal, while I treated myself to two Kingfisher Premium beers. The total cost of all this, for the three of us? The equivalent of £20 all in!
After tea, we returned to the hotel to prepare for our evening tour to the nightly ceremony at the Golden Temple. Right on cue our guide turned up in the foyer and introduced himself. As we walked out he summoned our driver, and off we went. We drove through the old walled town before arriving at the Temple where Shivam explained what would happen, and all the history behind the Sikh Religion. We were not expecting the spectacle of the evening, but I will let the images tell their own story.
One thing that struck us about our visit tonight is that we were treated like Royalty by the locals. Every time we stopped for a briefing from our guide a large crowd gathered around us, children touching us and parents asking if they could take photographs of us with their children and relatives. Our guide told us we were an unusual feature of the evening, just as much a spectacle to them, as their Temple was to us, as not many Westerners are usually seen in the area, even though it is such a tourist destination. We were certainly the only ones there tonight. A very strange feeling, but pleasurable just the same.
If my memory serves me correctly the Sikh religion was founded in 1606, and this has been going on nightly ever since. Without going into too much detail, it is a ceremony to put the holy book, or Guru away for the night. The Temple itself is constructed of white marble and inlaid with coloured floral designs in much the same way as the Taj Mahal in Agra, (which incidentally is a mausoleum not a temple). However, the walls here were later clad in spectularly embossed copper, to replicate the designs it was to cover, which was then covered in 93.5 kg of real gold leaf. The effect is stunning, especially when floodlit. All aspects of the temple are meticulously cleaned daily by volunteers. The Temple is open 24/7 and also provides daily cooked food, free of charge, for anybody who requests it.
Tomorrow will be another full day with the same guide and driver, commencing at 8.30 am, immediately after breakfast - which for me today was eggs and toast, yoghurt, fruit juice and coffee. I might partake in the "full English" tomorrow if it is to be such a busy day again, (a full selection of breakfast curries are available too).