North India - The Golden Temple at Amritsar in the state of Punjab in India

India looks like a huge kaleidoscope, colorful and spicy. Bright colors that soften poverty, spices that perfume life but which can sometimes pique the curiosity of the traveler.

Latest edition : 27 January 2020

In the most remote states of India, a rich cultural and architectural heritage surprises the traveler who does not simply follow the traditional circuits offered by tour operators. Of course, you have to travel great distances, by train or plane, to be able to contemplate these wonders, but it is worth it.

One of the most beautiful temples is in the state of Punjab, in northwest India. To get there, we took a domestic flight from Delhi.

Amritsar, the Golden Temple where is preserved the Holy Book of the Sikhs, "Guru Granth Sahib".

The beauty of this temple is not due only to its architecture but to the atmosphere which reigns on this site, the holiest place of Sikhism, a religion present mainly in this region and which fights racial and social inequalities. Serenity reigns there despite a military operation in 1984. A massacre that resulted in the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Everyone is welcome, without distinction. Unlike most other sites, access to the Golden Temple is free. Out of respect for the Sikhs who cover their hair with a turban (for men) or a veil, each visitor ties an orange scarf over their head. So did we.

Our guide Danveer Singh Baydi (Dadou) equips us for our visit.
In front of the golden temple in Amritsar, meeting with a Sikh dignitary.

Nothing prevents us from joining the crowd that wanders around the basin containing the "nectar", Amrit Sarovar, which gave its name to the city.

Amritsar, the golden temple

Amritsar, a pilgrim purifies himself in the sacred basin.

The basin is accessed through four entrances, which means it is open to all peoples and all faiths. This is one of the hallmarks of the Sikh religion, tolerance and openness to others. The shrine is reflected in the sacred basin.

White marble, facades inlaid with mother-of-pearl, semi-precious stones, domes coated with gold. As there was a long line to enter the shrine where the sacred book can be seen, we preferred to explore other buildings such as the site kitchens.

Amitsar, lthe sikhs wait in a long line to enter the shrine.

Every day, a real miracle happens there: the preparation of at least 25,000 meals (some even put the figure at 100,000!) distributed free of charge to all visitors. People come voluntarily to give some of their time: handing out the dishes, washing the dishes.


Groups chop garlic, onions in industrial quantities.


Others make dumplings.


Vegetables, soup and rice simmer in gigantic cauldrons.

Astronomical quantities of naans, Indian pancakes, are prepared. Everyone is invited to participate, so did I and brushed the bread with butter. A great way to share, to communicate without a lot of words. I loved it and would have stayed for hours!


The distribution of meals is done in a very organized and disciplined manner. People walk in in single file to sit on mats. Volunteers pass by to distribute food. Plates emptied, people come out in an equally disciplined fashion, and more volunteers sweep before the next ones arrive.


It’s a mind-boggling and extremely well-run spectacle! There are of course thousands of Sikh pilgrims who come to the site to worship, but also many Hindus and Muslims.

European tourists are still rare. It is a timeless place, imbued with serene spirituality and one could walk there all day ...

It is difficult to leave this colorful place, where benevolence reigns.


Before getting back to our mini-bus, we take a short tour of the city of Amritsar. The streets leading to the Golden Temple have been renovated, monuments highlighted, shops selling souvenirs and shimmering fabrics.

In the alleys,the daily life pulsates.

Amritsar, selective sorting. The lady is paid by the weight of sorted plastic.
Amritsar, selective sorting of paper.

There is still a lot of work to do

Our guide leads us to the Jalianwalla Bagh garden: this is where another terrible massacre took place.

On April 13, 1919, after several days of deadly violence against European civilians, the British governor ordered a military intervention during a rally in this garden. Hundreds of dead, more than a thousand injured ... The garden being under construction, we do not linger in this place sadly marked by terror.

Memorial to the martyrs outside the park

With heavy hearts, we hit the road to witness another spectacle, the changing of the guard at Wagah, the only land border crossing between India and Pakistan.

Every evening there is a pretty mind-boggling spectacle before the border closes for the night. On both sides of the border, it feels like a football stadium with a crowd completely excited.


"Hall drivers" harangue the spectators to stir up a patriotic fever. It's kind of who shouts the loudest ...


Then, border guards on both sides, adopt martial and threatening attitudes before shaking hands, lowering the flags and closing the border for the night. Please note: the flags must always be at the same height.


A show that caused some discomfort in our hearts, especially when we know that relations between the two countries can be very tense. But since we were there, I wanted to see ...

After leaving the peaceful ambience of the Golden Temple, this experience is one of the "stinging spices" ... We took the plane back to Delhi for the rest of our journey.


Visit of Amritsar organised by the french tour opérator Définition Asie

who also proposes personnalised trips to Europe. As the owner lived in India before moving to France, he knows perfectly the wishes of both Indian and European travellers!

Tél. : +33 (0) 3 89 36 10 64