we were only in amritsar for a couple days, but we saw some amazing sights. foremost is the golden temple, the most important sikh temple, built in the middle of an artificial lake, and covered in pure gold. it reflects off the water beautifully, and some say it is the 2nd loveliest building in india. we went inside and it was so powerful spiritually, they are constantly chanting from their books and playing music, and sikhs pilgrimage there from all over the world. it really was incredible in there, just sitting and taking in the religious devotion.
the next place we saw was the Mata (mother’s) Temple, built to a 20th century woman who was revered as a spiritual presence until her death just a few years ago. the temple is incredible, like nothing we’ve seen in india. it’s built to resemble a womb, you enter and there are a series of caves and tunnels and waterways to walk through. some passageways are so small you have to duck, maybe even crawl through, then they open into larger wombs, er, rooms. the walls are covered with pictures of deities and millions of tiny mirrors, and by the time you get out, you really feel like you’ve been rebirthed. apparently women go there from all over india to pray for children.
and finally we took a ride a few kilometers to the pakistani border, the only open border between the 2 countries, to watch the nightly border-closing ceremony. it felt like a sporting event; there were stands filled with supporters (on both sides), and patriotic chanting (hindustan zindabad! Jai Hind!). the border guards march up to each other, stand face to face, and scowl mightily at their counterparts on the other side.
you can see the border closing ceremony here.