A Visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar

The Golden Temple at Amritsar has always been on my bucket list of places to visit. I had heard so much about the beauty of the place, the atmosphere and the energy of the volunteers that it was a place that I wanted to see for myself. I had had the privilege of seeing many, many places within Mother India but had not yet visited Amritsar.

We arrived in Amritsar late in the evening and decided to pay a morning visit to the temple. As we approached the temple, the difference in the energy was palpable and we noticed that in the town surrounding the temple, the food was pure vegetarian, even the McDonald’s (I don’t go to McDonald’s, but I did go and look to see whether the menu was vegetarian).

Everyone and anyone is welcome at The Golden Temple, regardless of religion, caste, creed, race or anything else.  I found that aspect to be very refreshing as some Hindu temples forbid the entry of non-Hindus into their premises, with clear signage outside the temple.

Before entering the temple, everyone leaves their shoes at one of the outside stalls, covers their head and washes their hands and feet. There’s a pool of water to walk through as one enters the temple, to ensure that the feet are clean. I covered my head with a scarf and walked through the water to enter.


When I entered the temple premises, I felt an energy of peace and happiness wash over me. The difference in energy was also palpable to my friend, who was with me. We took our time, walking around the huge site, on the smooth marble floor around the temple, which was surrounded by water. The temple is quite old, having been built in the 16th century but the positive energy was so strong, and it was so well maintained that it didn’t feel old at all.

We stopped for a few minutes to partake of the holy water that is handed out in one of the rooms, clean, filtered water, available to anyone.

As we walked through the site, we could see many volunteers working in their different capacities, and we were amazed that such a place could function so well and feed 100,000 people daily on a mainly volunteer and donation basis.

Anyone who would like to eat is handed a stainless-steel plate and takes their place on the floor of the dining hall. People walk around serving food and asking whether diners would like more of anything. Nobody goes hungry and food is always free and available.

It’s the world’s largest free kitchen and they have a regular army of volunteers; however, anyone is welcome to help with the cooking and/or dishwashing. I asked to help the ladies who were brushing ghee on hot chapattis, and they moved over and handed me a brush. It was such a strong feeling of community and inclusivity that we spent several hours there and returned that evening, again spending a few hours. We could see that in such an environment, people forget about issues and differences that divide them. To me, it was a reminder that to be able to help another person, whether it be through donations or service is a huge privilege, something that I always carry in my mind.

To be able to serve others is a gift.