After returning to Delhi we turned around and headed back North by train up to the state of Punjab. The 8-hour train ride in the opposite direction of our continuing travels was a bit of a deterrent, but the promise of a Sikh Temple gilded with 75kg of pure gold and a high-kicking dance competition between India and Pakistan was too good to pass up.
We spent a couple of days exploring the city and were blown away by the welcoming nature of Sihkism and the stunning beauty of the Golden Temple. The volunteer kitchen serves tens to hundreds of thousands of people each day for free – and the food is GOOD. It’s a little strange be constantly asked to be in photographs with random people but I suppose it’s the same idea as photo-bombing, except that they want us to be there. Also, it’s kind of nice to think that we’ll show up in dozens of family photo albums as “the random white tourists we met for three minutes.”
Our trip out to the Pakistan border at Attari was also eye-opening. As a relic of the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, the countries try to outdo each other with choreographed dances, high kicks and stare-downs. The results are absolutely hilarious, but each country takes is seriously and the crowds could be just as easily cheering for their favorite cricket team. Flag waving, chants and a bonafide hype-man in an all white track suit completes the picture.
Amritsar is an impressive city that relies on devotion, both religious and political, for tourist income. As is always the case when traveling, more time would have allowed us to explore the outlying cities and villages, but we’re back on the train… 8 hours to Delhi and 12 hours across Rajasthan to the desert city of Jaisalmer.