What to see in Amritsar beyond the Golden Temple!
When visiting Amritsar, it is very easy to get hooked on the Golden Temple of the Sikhs and not want to leave it, day or night. But “there is life beyond the temple”, so here are some notes on a couple of iconic and interesting places so you know what to see in Amritsar, in addition to that wonder.
The Jallianwala Bagh memorial is a place not to be overlooked when you think about what to see in Amritsar
Very close to the Golden Temple of the Sikhs there is a place sad place for what happened there. It marked with blood and fire the history of the city of Amritsar.
At Jallianwala Bagh the British Indian Army carried out a notorious massacre in 1919.
Thousands of defenseless people were shot. Men, women and children. Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. They were unarmed. They had come together to celebrate their New Year. No one was spared.
Why? because the British were paranoid about a possible independence resurrection in Punjab.
Why? because the government had forbidden meetings of more than 5 Hindus at the same time.
We would go on wondering why endlessly, and the answers would still be absurd.
The place was like today, a large park surrounded by houses and with few exits. In it there is a well that was full of corpses when it was all over. There it continues, with a commemorative plaque.
The soldiers blocked the exits and the order to fire was given. The bastard who gave the order, a certain Dyer said after e ste act was not done to break up the crowd, but to punish the disobedient Indians.
The following year, Gandhi began his particular pacifist movement that led to the independence of the country. One more demonstration of the obvious: the futility of these crimes.
We walked through the gardens, listening to the story. There are many local tourists busy taking pictures and hearing such a story from whoever can hear it. The tranquility of the place contrasts with all that memory.
In a small pavilion, a large painting portrays the massacre. There is nothing else, just that image at the back of the room. Nothing else is needed, just don’t forget.
The Lakshmi Narayan or Sri Durgiana Temple
In another sector of Amritsar, near the train station, there is a little secret that tourists rarely visit.
A temple with two names, although this detail is not exclusive to the place, because it is quite common in many places in India.
It is a Hindu temple, which always comes in handy to contrast with that of the Sikhs, and in any case not to forget what country we are in.
The peculiarity of this temple is that it is a smaller-scale imitation of the golden temple of the Sikhs.
Curious and I guess somewhat opportunistic. A religion that sees the splendor of the other and wants to imitate it, in the same city.
The original Sri Durgiana dated from the 16th century but it was in 1921 that Guru Harsai Mal Kapoor rebuilt it in the image and likeness of the Golden Temple.
It is dedicated to the goddess Durga, the mother of all deities. However, as in all Hindu temples, there are representations of several other gods. It is also known as “Silver Temple” or “silver temple” for its large doors carved in this metal.
We take off our shoes and walk through a first patio whose tiles burn in the strong morning sun. We cross a new threshold and there it is, the lake with a temple very similar to that of the Sikhs. In shape, not size.
Everything is very quiet. There are hardly any people.
The catwalk leads us next to colored light bulbs, under a striped awning, in that kitch mix that is so popular in the Indian subcontinent. In the pond there are several Hindu gods that seem to float on the water.
Music plays inside. A priest is singing Khrisna, and they are recording it on TV. They invite us to sit next to the music group and I’m afraid we’re on the broadcast. It is horribly hot, despite the large fans hanging from an impossible to describe ceiling, I better show you a photo.
The carved doors are indeed beautiful, although a little baroque for my taste. They depict scenes from Indian scriptures, gods and goddesses.
The exterior of the building is decorated in the Mughal style, with those filigree of semi-precious stones embedded in the marble that I love so much. Like the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort in Delhi .
I always think of the craftsmen who with infinite patience made these works, cutting each stone, after choosing the color, to adjust it to the mold that awaits them.
It also has many marble slabs with letters written in Hindi and English that account for the donations that families make and dedicate to their deceased loved ones. Thus they are immortalized.
A Hindu temple different from others we have seen, but with the familiarity of its gods, myths and decoration. Although the memory of the Golden Temple of this same city does not let us feel it as such a unique place.