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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

The Golden Temple: a shimmering symbol of faith and humanity

The temple’s striking gold-leaf structure could be mistaken for a mirage…

By Kuldeep Singh Jodha
Tour Guide in Amristar

Just before we arrive at the Golden Temple, we stop at Jallianwala Bagh, an important yet tragic site that not many people know about. It’s an open garden at which on the 13th of April 1919, the British Indian Army opened fire on a peaceful protest. The British said that 400 people died but the Indian government discovered it was more like 1500. You can still see the bullet marks on the walls. It’s a sobering, humble experience.

The Golden Temple isn’t far away. After washing your feet, hands and covering your head, we enter the gateway to see its striking gold-leaf structure appearing to almost float in the middle of a manmade pool. Around it, men, women and children take a dip in the holy water and Sikh guards with long beards, dressed in yellow tunics and holding spears, survey the scene. One interesting option is to visit the Golden Temple during an evening palki ceremony when the Holy Scripture is taken from the shrine to its ‘bedroom’ in the fronting Akal Takht building. The temple itself looks completely different to its appearance during the day, cinematically lit, its golden shimmer reflecting off the water.

A real highlight of any trip is the ‘open kitchen’ which feeds hundreds of people at a time. It’s unbelievable. You can see them first hand spread over three floors and devotees who can’t afford nourishing meals, queuing for bowls of dal, rice and chapati. The people serving the food are volunteers of all kinds. We’ve even seen millionaires cooking lentils and cleaning shoes – there’s no class system here. You can join in making chapatis, cleaning the utensils or stirring the huge pans of dal that take up an entire room. It’s a real eye opener for anyone who witnesses it.

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Alfred & Kuldeep Singh Jodha

Kuldeep has been a tour guide in northern India for over 13 years. After graduating from the University of Rajasthan, he completed a two-year tourism program accredited by the Government of India. Since 2009, he has been working for travel companies including SITA and Go Vacation utilising his vast knowledge of India's history, religion, culture and traditions.