Getting to Amritsar, in some ways, felt like the beginning of the adventure since I was no longer in a friend’s home. I suppose I expected to see more tourists, too, but did not. The taxi driver doubled as my guide through the sights even though he spoke few words in English and I no Hindi.
First stop, Jallianwala Bagh – a memorial and museum about the innocent people who were killed or died trying to escape British gunfire during India’s struggle for independence. You can read more about it <a href="http://here“>here. Next up was the Golden Temple – a holy place to the Sikhs and the scene of violence just two days prior. Walking into the temple itself, there are people seated in prayer and one man chanting accompanied by harmonium and tabla. The vibration was palpable and none of the photos can do the temple justice. I had the opportunity to visit two more temples – one, dedicated to Ma Durga, was the size of a closet and the other looked like a mini Golden Temple but it had a wall with floor to ceiling images depicting scenes from the Rumayana. If you know me, then you know I am smitten with Hanuman so it was hard to drag me out. After a short rest, the taxi driver took me to the India-Pakistan border where a retreat and flag ceremony has been conducted daily since 1952. The display of pride by both countries was impressive.
At last it was time to move on. My interesting train journey can be summed up in the following two short poems:
It’s midnight in the Amritsar station
Just one in this great Indian nation
I look up to see a hungry bat
And down to see a scurrying rat
Finally rush into my berth with celebration
No announcement, I wake in a panic and jump off the train
I buy my next ticket, find a seat, so I can’t complain
There’s a cow wandering around
Soon on the Toy Train there will be no seats to be found
For four hours I enjoy a sunrise over India’s terrain
By noon, I have been awed by the majestic Himalayas and have made it to Upper Bhagsu, Dharamsala. The journey has been long and at times very lonely – even when surrounded by people – and I am grateful just to be here.