Pictures from the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan

2014/08/28 at 12:12

A visit to Amritsar is not complete without a visit to the Wagah Border. The Flag Ceremony in the evening draws 1000nds of spectators every evening. Amritsar in the end of July is very hot and humid. Our host at the Eco Hostel in Amritsar organized two Tuk Tuk’s and off we went to the border. About 40 km to go – that equals to over 1.5 hours in the Tuk Tuk on bad roads. We where lucky as there was a big strike in the city so almost all the shops were closed and there was very little traffic. Still it was very hot and humid – even in the moving Tuk Tuk.

Finally we did arrive at the Wagah Border. Since we where early due the low traffic we had to wait a while. Time for two Lemon Soda – no salt or sugar for me please. Hoping that the ice was not to dirty it was helping to cool down a bit.
Than they did open the gates. A flood of bodies – the Indians where running and pushing the last few hundred meters before the border. Nice for us foreigners – we had the left road for us while the Indians had to walk on the right road. Divided by a few low trees and some grass it was a few hundred meters in the sun to meet again at the first security control point. Bag control and then on to the next non working metal detector. Than waiting at the VIP and foreigner gate. Another bag control and more walking later we reached the foreigner tribune. And then there was no more escape from the sun. The steps where super hot and we where heated from both sides. I do not remember the last time when i was so wet!
Finally the “Show” did start:

Wagah Border
The usual running with the flag – loud music in the bag and thousands of Indians cheering – nice opening!

Wagah Border
Compared to last time the “running with the flags” was a lot shorter. After that it is dancing on the road between the tribunes. Than it gets serious – two Woman marched towards the closed border gate.

Indian Border Force
Than these guys came out and marched half way towards the border.

Wagah Border Guards
Angry looks and gestures toward the Pakistan side of the border

Wagah Border Soldiers
Now – who do you think invented the Funny Walk?? I think it was not Monthy Phyton!

Wagah Border
Kind of a dance performance

Wagah Border
Focusing the enemy at the gate

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border
Than the gate opens and the soldiers march one after the other down towards the now open border and a show of strength starts. This time they had a live drummer to add to the whole thing.

Wagah Border
Than the flags go down – very slow!

Wagah Border

Wagah Border
Folded the Indian flag is carried back into the safety of the guard-house.

Wagah Border

Wagah Border
Than it is a lot more funny walk.

Wagah Border
The old man is smiling – the snipers not really.

Wagah Border
He was on top of the tourist section.

Wagah Border
People – many – very happy – cheering every action. Proud to be Indian I guess. And since you see quite a lot here I did some enlargement so you can see what is going on in the next pictures.

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

After the gate is closed they wait a while to let the VIP and foreigner go to the gate and take some pictures from the Pakistani side or from people in front of the gate. Than they open the road for the Indians so they can get a closer look and some pictures as well. Than everyone walked back towards transportation and a dusty, noisy and dirty convoy starts toward the city of Amritsar. I was happy to be back at the hostel and one after the other we did shower.

Pro Tip for the Wagah Border

If you go there – come late – this way you do not have to sit in the hot sun to long and you will be sitting close to the street for better pictures as well. Last time it did work out better for me as well. If you find yourself trapped high up – take a stroll to the toilet – take your time – and come back when the flag running started. That way you have a front row seat!

People Watching at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

2014/08/04 at 15:10

Loads of Indian tourists from all over as well as a hand full of international tourists make it every day to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. While waiting for night fall it is great to just sit down somewhere and do some people watching. Here are a few pictures for you:

Golden Temple Amritsar
Guards talking to a cleaner.

Golden Temple Amritsar
People watching – one of my favourite things while sitting somewhere. And here with an average of 100.000 a day it gets never boring!

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
These guys carry big swords at all times.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
Can you take a picture please – sure! Why not?

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
See you again Golden Temple!

Part 1: Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 2: Evening at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 3: People Watching at the Golden Temple

Evening at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

2014/08/03 at 13:43

At this time of the year the sun is strong and it is way to hot for me to really enjoy the action at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Also everything does look much better when it is dark and the light illuminate the Harmandir Sahib Temple and the complex surrounding the pond.

Harmandir Sahib  Amritsar
The sun is about to set over the Harmandir Sahib and the surrounding complex. There are two huge screens inside the square. They do translate all the religious songs that play in the temple into English so one can understand if he does not speak the local tongue.

Golden Temple Amritsar

They are always on patrol to tell the visitors if they do something wrong.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Darbar Sahib Amritsar
Blue hour! The Golden Temple and the main entrance to the complex.

Darbar Sahib Amritsar
A devote takes a bath in the holy water of the Darbar Sahib

Golden Temple Amritsar

Best view and best time to sit here. The hot sun is gone and everything looks more majestic.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

If only the ugly water tower would not be here.

Golden Temple Amritsar

The bridge towards the Temple.

Golden Temple Amritsar

View with the bridge and the exit towards the food complex in the back.

Golden Temple Amritsar

The guard keep an eye on things.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

View from the main entrance towards the Golden Temple.

Part 1: Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 2: Evening at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 3: People Watching at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar

2014/08/02 at 12:12

Last time i was at the Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar 4 years ago – not much did change since than. The temple itself was built over 400 years ago. The Gurdwara – the actual Golden Temple you see on the pictures – is build inside a man-made lake – they also call it holy tank or Sarovar. It is filled with Amrit the “holy water” or “immortal nectar” from the Ravi River. Pilgrims bathe and perform ablution in the sacred waters of the tank and it is said that it has healing properties. There are four doors to get into the temple – they symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions.
You get to the temple over a bridge from the Akal Takhat which is the governing body of religious authority for the Sikhs. This is the central worship place for all Sikhs in the world.
The whole complex is open to everybody. You have to remove your shoes – they will keep them for free for you and you have to wear a head covering. There are plenty of guys round the complex happy to sell you one if you do not bring your own. You can get a free one at the entrance as well. You pass through some water – this takes care of the washing your feet biz and you are good to go.

Golden Temple Amritsar
In the middle you see the Golden Temple. on the left the clock tower which is the main entrance. Than the bridge towards the Akal Takhat. On the right is the entrance from which you will exit toward the food building which is behind the red building with the two towers.

Since Amritsar is a bit off the beaten track they do not receive so many tourists as the other hot spots in India. And a lot of devotes do come from little villages so they are not used to see tourists. That ensures that many of them ask you for a picture with them. Even when they have no camera and not even email to send them the picture.

Langar is a free sanctified meal which is prepared daily and served at the temple. They serve more than a 100.000 meals average every day! All cooking of food and maintenance of the golden temple complex is carried out by worshipers, who volunteer their services. All cost is provided for by donations. And if you think you can just show up and help – think again. There is a waiting list and usually you have to wait months before it is your turn. And if you go and eat there – finish off the meal – leaving food on the plate is considered wasting food – and this is not an option. On this trip i did eat two times there and the 1st time it was dal, potatoes, rice, roti and even a sweet dessert. The second time only dal, roti and rice. They will give you as much as you can eat and some water as well. Next to the entrance of the food complex there is also free tea for you. I have a few more pictures of the food preparing in this post from 2010.

Harmandir Sahib Amritsar
Monsoon clouds over the Harmandir Sahib

This is one clean Temple

Golden Temple Amritsar
Buckets of water from the tank will be emptied from the walls towards the drainage between the water and the walk way.

Golden Temple Amritsar
Than it is a whole lot of sweeping the water towards the drainage.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Cleaning Brigade
Finally the last bit of water will be forced away and a minute later the marble is dry again.

Devote Golden Temple Amritsar
He wanted me to take a picture of him which i did.

Devote Golden Temple Amritsar
I asked him if he wanted me to email it to him – but he has none. To bad for him. Of course we did need somebody to translate for us since he could not speak English.

Golden Temple Amritsar
Actually the Sikhs are the only one in India that are allowed to carry a knife or sword at all the times and everywhere. Apart from an airplane of course. So even when they take the holy bath they stick their knife in the turban.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
Getting ready to go inside.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
View from the entrance of the eating complex

Golden Temple Amritsar
Himself he cooks
Himslef he places it on a platter & Himself he eats too
Himself he is the water
Himself he is the tooth pick Himself he offers a handful of water…
Himself he calls the man to eat
Himself he bids them off
Yea he to whom the Lord is merciful he makes him walk in his will.

Golden Temple Amritsar
Sir – can we take a picture with you? Sure!

Golden Temple Amritsar
Reflecting

Part 1: Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 2: Evening at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 3: People Watching at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

Back in Amritsar

2014/07/21 at 07:41

One more time – India was the destination. I did try a few times in the past to reach Leh and circle from there to Spiti Valley and loop back to Shimla. It did never work out. I did get as far as Spiti valley for a little circle. Trekking to some very small villages close to Kaza and then into the Pin Valley for a few days. The bridges towards Shimal where gone as it did rain too much and so was Leh – buried under a massive land slide. Now i want to try again and it does look better. So far we do not have that much rain and i will try again. The first stop is Amritsar. I do stay again with Mr. Singh at his Farmstay outside of town. So far i got here with the plane from Frankfurt to Delhi and a connecting one to Amritsar. Than the free bus to the Golden Temple and Tuk Tuk to the farm. It is quite hot here – almost 40 degrees and i have to get used to that for a few days. So i take it easy over here. Want to visit the Golden Temple of course and other than that i have no plans for here. Than it is off to Srinagar – the last stop before the mountains.

Frankfurt Airport in the Air India Dreamliner
My friend did drop me at Stuttgart train station where i took the train to Frankfurt. I did arrive early and had a few beers at the REWE supermarket where the trains arrive. They have nice comfy loungers there and cold beer.

Order one get two
Since i was early at the airport i scored a emergency exit seat which is very good if you are as tall as me and have a 6 hour flight ahead. I did order one whiskey and that is what i got. Cheers.

New Window Technology
Since it was a red-eye flight i did not notice the new window technology of the Air India Dreamliner. You can dim the window from clear over blue to a dark green. There are no more window shades. Nice – this is the full green view with the blazing morning sun. You still can feel the rays when you touch the window but it stays quite dark.

Clouds
Push the button 5 times and you have a clear window again!

Bedroom Ceiling
My room in Amritsar – the whole ceiling is made like that.

My Room
How come it looks like that in 18 seconds?

The Bed
Hello Sweety – looking forward to rest here.

View from the roof
From the roof of the farmstay you have a nice view over the fields surrounding the place.

Lazy Goat
Since there are no rocks that goat sleeps here.

Baby Goat
Baby goat likes to take some rays poolside.

Noosy Goat
And she likes the iPhone as well i guess

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