An indulgent tourist day! Spent the morning at the hostel pouring over photos from Arno and Lot’s journey from Amasterdam to India by car. Think Jayne might be slightly worried that that is going to be my next travel idea… Headed off at 1pm in our private TukTuk for the day. Started at a local restaurant for lunch where we randomly bumped into Mylene, the French vet we meet in Delhi! After a quick catch up sharing our ‘dramas’ getting here via the train and a chat about the things to visit in the local area, we went for a lasse drink and then headed in seperate directions. First, we visited the Sri Durgiana Temple (known as the Silver Temple). It is a Hindu version of the Golden Temple and looks the same except for its carved silver doors although it is nowhere near as spectacular. After that, we headed to the Mata Temple (known by locals as the Red Temple and called by tourists the Crazy Temple). Not sure how to describe it… It’s a temple for women wishing to get pregnant – there are hundreds of statues of Rama’s penis inside Sita’s vagina! It is a continuous route through the temple which requires you to pass through ankle-deep water, crawl through caves, walk in and out of various divine mouths and climb up and down staircases. Imagine an almost pornographic, religious fun-house and you’re half way to understanding the madness!!
After that, we headed out of town to the Indian-Pakistan border at Attari/Wagah. The daily flag-lowering, closing-of-the-border ceremony is 30 minutes of mayhem and theatrical brilliance! Basically, guards from both countries – in full peacocking uniform – march up to the gates (with the highest leg kicks I’ve seen – it practically touches their foreheads).
The commanding officers of both countries shake hands and salute before the flags from both countries are simultaneously lowered and folded. The gates are then slammed shut and the border is officially closed for the night. It was an incredible display of patriotic fervour and was an unforgettable experience to be sat amongst thousands of Indians clapping and chanting (very loudly!).
Returned back to Amristar – FYI, 32km in a TukTuk is not comfortable!! Met up for dinner with Arno, Lot and Karan in another local restaurant although I only had plain rice whilst the others feasted on my favourite Palak Paneer (spinach and cheese). Came back to the hostel and stayed up chatting until we remembered that we needed to get up at 4am to visit the Golden Temple!!