Tuesday, March 31, 2009

up to the hills

so i managed to find the golden temple, i could actually see it from my guesthouse. it was absolutely beautiful. i spent 3 days in amritsar and went to the temple every day to see it at different times. the first day was overcast so i didn't see the sun set over the temple, but the next day was fine. there were thousands of people there, i would have to say that in all the time i spent there i only saw about 10 other "westerners" as we're called, not very many white people at all. the whole complex where the temple is is huge, after you check your shoes and cover your head you walk through some water to wash your feet. then down to the amrit sarovar, the pool of sacred water. this is also where the city got its name, amritsar. the temple stands in the middle of the pool, with a long walkway leading into the temple where thousands of Pilgrims were waiting to go in and make an offering. i didn't go through, i just watched from outside. there are 4 priest inside keeping up a constant chant that is heard over loudspeakers, i could hear it from my room as well. there is also a huge dining hall where they feed you rice, dahl and chapatis, apparently they feed around 40,000 people a day all for a donation, they don't ask for any money, it was pretty amazing.

the other major sight i saw was the jallianwala bagh memorial. jallianwala bagh is a large outdoor park area where on april 13th, 1919 about 20,000 indians were holding a peaceful protest against the "rowlatt act", an act that gave the british authorities emergency powers to imprison without trial indians suspected of sedition, (rebelling against the british government). without notice 150 troops stormed the park and opened fire on the protesters, within 6 minutes more then 400 were dead and 1500 injured. there is a huge well in the park, now called the "martyrs well" were 120 bodies were pulled out of as people jumped in to flee the bullets. well that's my history lesson for today, other then these two places i just wandered around the old city. through the alleys and tried to get lost, but you can always seem to see or hear the golden temple so i could always find my way back.

after 3 days i needed to get out of the city so i hopped on a cycle rickshaw, paid the guy 40 ru ($1) to take me and my bag to the bus station. im sure 40 rupees was to much but i couldn't feel good paying him less to cycle and my big bag, with his skinny little legs, i don't know how they do it. i caught a local bus to dharamsala, which is north of amritsar up in the mountains, it was a crazy 7 hour ride. we arrived around 8pm and i found a place to stay had some tibetan soup and went to bed.

so far i really like it here, it's pretty cold here compared to what i've been in, at night it's around 10c and low 20's during the day. i've had to buy some pants and warm tops. technically where i am is called mcleod ganj, it's about 4km above dharamsala, and is where people come when they say they are going to dharamsala. it is the headquarters of the tibetan government in exile and the residence of the dali lama and many tibetan refugees. it's a beautiful village, but very touristy and full of white people, but i guess i'm one of them so oh well.....many people come here for long term stays, to take month long yoga courses or massage classes. or just meditate and hang out. im taking some tibetan cooking classes, my first one's tonight, 3 in total, the tibetan food is so good here, i'm loving the momo's. well i'm going to go see if the dali lama wants to have lunch.....

No comments: