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Day 30: Amritsar

Michael Palin - HimalayaIn a nod towards another religion, the Sikh gurus chose a pool visited by Lord Buddha around which to build their first temple. It was called Amrit Sovar (The Nectar Pool) and though the name was elided to Amritsar, the pool, much extended, still exists and the temple built around it is now one of the most famous shrines in the world.

To get to the Golden Temple I take a motorcycle rickshaw into the centre of the city. The bracing, or exhausting, anarchy of Indian streets begins as soon as we leave the hotel. Cars veer out of side roads without stopping, lame dogs hop gamely across your bows, bicycles and buses appear from nowhere and blasts of the horn mingle with blasts from exhausts. At a roundabout we are forced into the middle of the road to avoid not just a cow, but a cow feeding its calf. As we pull out, a scooter with three small children concertinaed in between their mother and father hoots indignantly at us before disappearing in a cloud of fumes from the back of a passing truck.

Road safety signs with slogans like 'Hell or Helmet!' and 'Stay Married! Divorce Speed!' are partially obscured and universally ignored.

An additional discomfort for an Englishman driving into Amritsar is a series of very public reminders of how much we were once disliked.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 30: Amritsar
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Amritsar
  • Book page no: 65

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