Parikrama – The GoldenTemple Diary

View of Harminder Sahib, between the Sarovar at Night

Early Relationship With Amritsar

My first school was Tiny Tots, Amritsar followed by Junior Studies and Senior Studies. I have very fond memories of the buildings and some of my friends and teachers. Travelling to Amritsar always brings back memories of childhood, the food and the people. Over the years the city seems to have grown a lot but some things have remained the same. The area and the shops around the Golden temple are one one of those. If one wants to get the true scent, sight and flavour of the city I would definitely recommend them to spend at least half a day strolling around the place.

Present Day

When one of my close friend was visiting India from Australia, he wanted to go on a religious trip of Mata Vaishno Devi and Golden Temple at Amritsar. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to say yes, primarily since I wanted to undergo this spiritual journey myself and add to that the advantage of catching up with my friends after a span of approximately 20 years. 

 We landed in Amritsar by train from Jammu on the evening of December 18, 2019. After checking in to the hotel which was just five minutes of walk from the Golden Temple, we were in the dilemma whether to visit the temple immediately or go the next morning. Eventually, we decided that being so close to the temple we should definitely pay it a visit and then proceed for our dinner. And it was a good decision indeed since the next day, considering the busy shopping schedule, we were unable to visit the temple again. 

This series of pictures is from our visit that evening, and as far as I remember, also my first visit at night, which brings out the amazing lights of the complete enclave. I named the series as Parikrama, since the picture were taken while doing a parikrama of the temple, and provides a perspective from different viewpoints of the parikrama.

The first view of the temple if one enters from the south west gate of the temple, the lights really bring out the beauty of the temple at night, and have an amazing reflection on the waters of the Sarovar. 

First View of Harminder Sahib
First View of Harminder Sahib, from the South West Gate

I was carrying my standard Nikon D5600 along with the Tamron 18mm to 400mm lens which though not ideal for night photography but the zoom feature definitely helps. Ideally I would have preferred to take this shot on a tripod with a high shutter speed of at least a few seconds and lower ISO value, but since most of the places do not allow a tripod I was forced to increase the ISO to 1250 and reduced shutter speed of less than a second, apart from fixing the exposure not much changes have been done to this picture on adobe lightroom.

Another closer view of the temple complex zoomed in with the lens, had kept the camera settings same as before, and at the time I write this I would say I am pretty satisfied with the end result if the image, though I would still miss having a tripod.

Zoomed in view of the Harminder Sahib from the South West Gate
Zoomed in view of the Harminder Sahib from the South West Gate

The ghost image of a Khalsa walking by the parikrama of the temple, I am actually glad that the person is blurred out due to motion since I believe its invasion of privacy to take someone’s image without permission. To be true I have invaded privacy at times myself but try to avoid it as much as possible, 

A Khalsa Walking By the Temple Complex
A Khalsa Walking By the Temple Complex

Image of the Akal Takth, I liked the subtle lighting which has been done to the building to highlight the right points at night. 

Akal Takht, Golden Temple Amritsar
Akal Takht, Golden Temple Amritsar

This is one of the service points in the temple, I was amazed by the amount of effort has been spent to ensure that the complete temple complex is in synergy with the design of the temple, Considering that the Harminder Sahib itself was built approximately 500 years ago, all these structures are modern but still in sync. 

Service Point Within the Temple Complex

The entrance to the Harminder Sahib, the main temple complex which is situated within the Sarovar.

Entrance to the Harminder Sahib
Entrance to the Harminder Sahib

Photography beyond this point was not permitted, but believe me each step to the Harminder Sahib, its inside and the outside walls are a visual marvel. If you ever happen to visit do spend some time admiring the inner sanctum and the external walls where marble inlay work similar to the Taj Mahal can be seen.

Used my lens zoom abilities to show the intricate metal work at the top of the temple. I am amazed at the amount of effort required to keep the entire complex spick and clean. 

Intricate Metal Work on the Temple
Intricate Metal Work on the Temple

The next few set of images are related to the Palki Sahib ceremony, which happens twice daily. 

The Palki
Guru Granth Sahib, Being Carried in the Palki

Since we were in the complex close to the closing time of the temple we were fortunate to see this event take place that evening. Palki sahib ceremony is when the holy book Guru Granth Sahib is carried to a room for night stay as a symbolic gesture,  The priests stop the singing of Guruvani and a specific set of hymns are read by the respected priest than book is closed and after performing the prayer the book is placed in a golden Palki which is carried by all the devotees who are lined up to take Seva, it all happens amidst chanting and reciting of hymns. There is one man who blows the  trumpet, to announce the path of the Palki.

In the morning again same ceremony is being held when the Guru Granth sahib is taken back to the Temple, and the book is opened randomly and right page is read by the reader that is {hukamnama} the order of day. Every one listen to that respectfully.

The timing of ceremony does vary as per the season.

This image is special to me since it brings out multiple aspects of a devotee visiting the Golden Temple, notice the bright red dress of the lady, both their heads covered and both of them looking at the Palki ceremony with full dedication. 

At the end of the day and before closure of the temple all the devotees pay their final respect and gratitude for the day which has gone by well and the day which is to come tomorrow. Belief and devotion are few aspects of human nature which help us to propel and move forward through whatever we are facing in our life.

The GoldSpot boy, at the exit of temple there is a gold spot counter where all the youngsters gather together to have a few drinks with their friends and family before ending their day with a spiritual note and going home. This boy was very excited seeing my camera and wanted me to take a picture of his … So, here is one for him. 

The GoldSpot Boy

I had an amazing time visiting Amritsar, one of the places were once is not enough… Hope to visit again in the near future possibly with my kids this time to introduce them to the rich culture and heritage of our country and to ensure that the future generation carries it forward to the next millennium. 

Hope you enjoyed this journey of mine… there are many more to come. Until then, happy travelling!