Amritsar and the Golden Temple (November, 2000)

Akal Takhat

While You Are There: Sleep on a mat on the floor with the pilgrims, eat in the communal kitchen, make a karah parshad offering in the temple, close your eyes and listen to the the singing, walk around the pool, people watch, strike up a conversation with a student from the Miri Piri Academy, relax, make a donation or volunteer.

Why It’s On My List: The overwhelming serenity and generosity of the place. While it’s just as crowded as the rest of India, within the temple walls you are left to just be and experience. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from. There is a peace there that is nearly impossible to find elsewhere in such a crowded and terribly impoverished country. It was also very humbling to be a westerner (meaning wealthy by comparison to most people around me) and have the Sikh community open its arms and provide lodging and food without question or agenda. I’m not a spiritual person or one to meditate in any way, but I spent many hours in the temple and by the pool just listening to the chants and observing the beautiful community that existed within those walls.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.  

India

This one is easy. I lived in India for five months. I went to the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda for a semester. By went there, I mean I was enrolled. But for the five months I was there, it seemed that we had far more vacation than class time, which was fine with me. I got to travel extensively over the northern part of the country, a little bit into Nepal, and just a very little bit into the south. It would take me five years to write about five months spent traveling around India, so I’ll just list a few of my favorite places. Continue reading →