Early start today at 6:45 to beat the inevitable traffic but to try to see around the heritage trail within Amritsar old city. I did no5 quite know what I was expecting but this was the real backstreets of the old city, without men washing naked in the streets, weeping into the gutter without a by or leave. The streets were indescribable but please check the photographs. The amazing aspect was you would be walking around in desolation, you would enter a gate/ door into a clean temple of a considerable size.
The shops were not open but those that were had very little to show of their wares. As with most places in the world they were divided into areas dependant on their products, such hardware, utilities, Temple gourds, clothes etc. There is even a diamond and gold centre, but who would have the money to buy or sell the goods is a mystery. There was even a guy that was panting for gold in the shittesh stream of gutter water downstream of the gold shops. Apparently 1 gram of gold is worth 3000 rupees or £30, which would be like winning the lottery.
We saw some very old original pre British Empire buildings and some old wooden properties pre independence.
We visited a Hindu temple almost but a lot smaller than the Golden Temple. Hindus worship images of their gods of which there are many thousands. The bare feet, prewash and hand cleansing now very much a part of entering the holy site. I must admit I did feel embarrassed as we walked in front of the people praying to look upon their holy status and relics.
We started at the original British Headquarters built of deep red bricks and similar to many 1850 to 1940’s building very much derelict now apart from poor living in alcoves, partial library and the Partition Museum recording the British efforts to control the masses by separating the organisational zones.
After trailing through the squalid and smelly back streets we emerged near the Golden Temple but today we were visiting the site of the Amritsar Massacre in Jallianwala bugh. We entered the now gardens through the only entry which the British had blocked on this eventful day back in April 1919. We saw where the shots were fired, the apparent markings on the walls of bullet fire and the well that some had drowned in. Because of the 100th anniversary they were putting in new sculptures and well surrounds. Again I felt angry and sad that given so much death and destruction throughout history this episode has stained the British.
We came back for some smog bathing and lunch. There is a massive store next to the hotel and we had a wander around to past some time before going back to Golden Temple to see the closing of the book. Amazingly they were playing bingo in the main entrance for beauty products and as we walked around youngsters came and asked if they could have their photographs taken with us. Talk about celebrities and a sheltered life.
Anyhow I have finally caught up with blog, will pick up tonight’s experiences in tomorrow’s blog from Julander.