One of the most pleasant aspects of travel is when you discover something that exceeds your initial (or preconceived) expectations. Visiting the Harmandir Sahib Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, located in Amritsar, India ended up being one of the top highlights of my travels in India. Unlike the Taj Mahal, which is more of a tourist experience, the Golden Temple is a religious/spiritual experience.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this prominent Sikh Gurdwara temple is that it is open and available to everyone regardless of sex, race, creed or religion. The only restrictions or rules revolve around visitor behavior upon entering the premises. Removing your shoes and then proceeding to wash your feet in a small pool of water is required before setting foot in the temple. Wearing a head covering as a sign of respect is paramount; however, (for those without adequate covering) scarves are provided.
Taking the time to wander around the temple, at all times of day, with the masses is what I remember the most to this day; it was especially impressive during sunrise and sunset when the Golden temple would shine from the reflection of the sun.
The most spiritual text of Sikhism (the Guru Granth Sahib) is always present inside the temple which is considered holy by Sikhs. The Golden Temple literally means ‘the Temple of God’ and is the most significant architectural accomplishment in Amritsar.
It’s the faces that often make a place memorable. While taking in the atmosphere of the Golden Temple I distinctly remember this girl who had glint in her eyes and a shy smile.
Waking up early in the morning to visit the Golden Temple afforded me the opportunity to walk around without the crowds. This man stood in awe for several minutes.
Nothing like smiling faces and cute poses from children to liven the experience. You’ll notice the distinct head dressing required to enter the temple.
Well not everyone is smiling here: “You talking to me? You looking at me?
In the afternoon the temple can get awfully crowded – especially near the Gurdwara.
I like to think of this photo as the Three Wise Men
This group of people marvel at the Harmandir Sahib from a distance.
A guard with a most impressive beard stands tall outside of the main entrance to the Harmandir Sahib.
A photo of bare chested man with distinct smile and an impressive beard.
Devotees pay their respect by bowing in servitude.
I snapped this photo of the Golden Temple from a distance during sunset.
Aside from the impressive golden color of the temple, the people offer an even more eclectic mix of colors.
This guard is rendered as a silhouette during sunrise.
The edges and corners of the complex are the best place to view the temple from afar.
I snapped this candid portrait just after this man finished taking a dip
This is a photo of a man sitting down while reading.
Two guards converse with one another.
This man takes great care in wrapping the blue headdress around his head.
A silhouette shot of a man walking around during sunset.