Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Gurudwaras of Amritsar.

H
armandir Sahib (Golden Temple) may be the most well known of the gurudwaras in Amritsar and is what draws most Sikh pilgrims and tourists like me to the town, there are other gurudwaras that should no be missed.

I saw three others on my visit to Amritsar - Tarn Taran, Khadur and Goindwal.  Each has its own unique features and characteristics. 


We started our visit of other gurudwaras right after my visit to Harmandir Sahib. 

Back in the car, Aman drove like madman through the streets of Amritsar.  I hate to admit that he was the worst driver when it came to honking the horn and squeezing the car through the narrowest of spaces.  I swear he even went off the road a couple of times.  After a while, I learned to distract myself by watching the world of Amritsar whiz by me outside my car window.




Tarn Taran
Much more modest in size and decoration than Harmandir Sahib, Tarn Taran is also constructed in white marble.  Only one front facade of the building is sheathed in gold along with the domes on the roof.  


The temple sits at the edge of a pool that is easily twice the size of that of Harmandir Sahib.  When you see it from the far end of the pool, it looks like a tiny little nugget of gold shining in the far distance.

Covered walkways line the perimeter of the temple complex.  The floors of the walkways are mosaic tile and every few feet, the pattern is different.  It's like walking on a series of tile carpets.










Of all of three gurudwaras, Tarn Taran was by far my favorite. It was like a miniature version of the Golden Temple and I don't know if it was because of the time of day (i.e., brighter sunlight) but Tarn Taran looked more golden yellow in color.....less tarnished in appearance. It was like a tiny little gem of a temple.



Khadur Sahib
After Tarn Taran, I went to visit Khadur Sahib which was not memorable for its temple, which is rather unremarkable....



....but for the fact that it has garden. Of the gurudwaras I visited, it was the only one that had a garden and it was a well manicured bit of greenery at that.  There was even small water feature that devotees were cupping their hands and taking water from.  A blessing maybe?
 














Off to one side of the garden was a topiary in the design of the Khanda which is very important symbol in Sikhism.  The Khanda symbolizes God's Universal and Creative Power. In its center is a double edged sword, which symbolizes the primal and almighty power of the creator. The 'chakra' or the circle is a symbol of the continuity. The two swords on the outside are symbols of the spiritual and political balance in the universe.  You see the Khanda in many of the designs adorning gurudwaras and it is the emblem of the Sikh flag.

Goindwal Sahib
Last but not least is Goindwal Sahib.  The temple at Goindwal Sahib is more elaborate than the one at Khadur Sahib but after Tarn Taran, nothing was impressing me.  It also didn't help that by the time I arrived at Goindwal, I was getting a bit Sikh *templed* out. 

I will remember Goindwal Sahib for two reasons.  One, the circus of street vendors that occupy its front "yard".   I don't know if it was done on purpose or not, but the vendors are located between the shoe deposit counter and the entrance to the temple so you have to pass by all the vendors on your way in and you have to do it  barefoot!









Inside the temple complex was a small pool of water for devotees to bathe in.  Next to the pool was a huge canopy covered walkway leading inside the temple.


It was around midday by now and it was hot walking under the blazing sun. By hot, I mean that the marble pavement had heated up to the point where it made it painful to walk. I'm very tender footed :-)I sought a bit of refuge under the covered walkway and from there, found that I had a perfect vantage to people watch.


Once the soles of my feet had recovered, I ventured back out and admired the painted murals on temple's walls.  I hadn't seen paintings in any other gurudwaras so the ones at Goindwal definitely captured my attention.

I barely stayed half an hour inside Goindwal before heading back out to retrieve my shoes.   It was a full day of visiting gurudwaras and I'm glad I did but I was ready to call it a day.

I managed to make my way back to the car but Aman was nowhere to be seen so I decided to do some shopping at some nearby stores.  Of all things to buy, I ended up with a tiffin carrier.  The shop owner insisted on engraving my name on each of the three dishes so now I have a custom engraved tiffin carrier from Amritsar, along with photos and priceless memories, as reminders of my brief visit to Amritsar!