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Himalaya

Day 30: Amritsar

Amritsar, India 
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Ablutions in the Amrit Sarover, 'the pool of nectar', at the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
Michael Palin - HimalayaOnce down the steps to the waterside, there isn't much encouragement to sit around. Most of the pilgrims are moving, in a remorseless clockwise flow, around the marble-flagged promenade, some strolling, some bustling purposefully, some dodging the mops and buckets of the cleaners, most squeezed onto coconut matting to avoid burning their feet, while hymns from the Holy Book are sung over booming loudspeakers. Some men are stripped down, bathing in the holy water, which seems to be largely full of fat carp with gulping, Jagger-like mouths. Very few visitors, apart from a one-legged man lying asleep, head resting on his crutches, are doing nothing.

I notice how much more openly curious people are here than in Pakistan.

'What is the country in which you are residing?' they ask. 'For what purpose have you come?'

Occasionally, a passing family group will quite unapologetically insert themselves alongside us and get a friend to take a photo, as if we too are part of the tourist attractions. Helpful explanations of what's going on are given, whether solicited or not.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 30: Amritsar
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Amritsar
  • Book page no: 67

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