We visited the Golden Temple for the first time ever in November 2018. I’d been wanting to visit for a long time and the opportunity was perfect when we were invited to experience Hamira Homestay near Kapurthala.
Being guests of Hamira gave us the opportunity to have VIP Access to the temple (at the time I wasn’t sure what that even implied). What it eventually came out to be was being granted access to enter the actual temple (that’s in the middle of the water body) through the exit since there is always a long wait time at the real entry. Since we decided to visit during the afternoon (it was winters so heat was a non-issue) and on a weekday the line of people at the entry was not as daunting as one would’ve thought but it still meant atleast 40-60 minutes standing in line.
Now there are not many people who have access to enter through the exit path (maybe a few people with political/police ties and some elderly people) I felt a little wrong doing this. After-all ‘most’ people, young or old, rich or poor, wanting blessings way more than I did were all standing in line, but when an opportunity presents itself, I usually take it more often than not. I’m not a big fan of visiting Indian temples (the crowds and the dirt always put me off) but I have never heard anything close to negative about the Golden Temple which is why I really wanted to visit. Which brings me to the point that recently I read an article where it mentioned that the Akal Takht (literally meaning Throne of The Immortal, it is the highest political institution of the Sikhs) prefers it being referred to as either Sachkhand Sri Harmandir Sahib, Sri Darbar Sahib or Sri Amritsar.
We entered through the exit path (I did hear the Sikh guard at the exit disapprove slightly through subtle mumbles and advice to next time perhaps enter the right way). It was a quick walk to the entry door of the temple where the all-day prayers happen. People are usually sitting everywhere and upstairs silently listening to the prayers and its suddenly so PEACEFUL.
I’m not religious at all, don’t believe in the concept of God but I do believe in energies and that is what I experienced at the Golden Temple. The moment you step into the temple, as if by magic, you leave everything else behind you at the door. It’s surreal how de-stressing this visit was for me. I can’t really explain it in words but to see everybody keeping to themselves, minding their own business and trying to work on whatever is inside of them is a very refreshing sight to see (especially in a country like India). The area is probably the cleanest I have ever seen of a holy place in India, the prayers being said out loud are soothing, the water around you is calming and despite the sounds around you, you can loudly hear your own thoughts slowly disappearing. It was wonderful.
All men & women must have their heads covered and photography even with cellphones is not allowed inside the inner temple within the water body, we walked around the entire compound, took a few photographs and left before the evening crowds descended upon us. All in all a beautiful day. Very glad I visited and still not sure how it managed to be such a peaceful and relaxing experience. Makes you wonder.