Sunday, November 30, 2008
Feeding Thousands and Back to the Taj
We awoke and had a minimal breakfast at our hotel in Amritsar. We then headed out. Our guide said for an extra 250 rupees he would take us to a Hindu Cave Temple named Ujya Mata Lal Devi. We said sure (remember a rupee is worth about 2 cents). The Hindu Temple was a fun marvel. It was made of Plaster of Paris. There were all kinds of water features. You had to craw through a tunnel with water running in it. You had to stoop low and go through entrances that couldn’t have been more than 2 feet high. At any rate once you were inside it was all shrines and mirrored walls ceilings and paintings. It was a trip. We really liked it. This is one of those experiences in India that you have to just let happen, no description does justice to it. It is very devout Hindu meets the ultimate East LA kitsch. We all felt this Hindu Temple was well worth the detour.
From there we went back to the Golden Temple to experience it in the daytime. No one in Amritsar goes hungry. They feed anyone one who is hungry for free at the Golden Temple. All of the kitchen staff are volunteers. They must serve thousands of people a day there. We went all through the giant kitchens and watched the Rube Goldberg devises that make thousands of Chapattis and Naan. It smelled great from the onions, spices and garlic. We don’t know much about Sikh’s but they seem real cool to us! We saw men bathing in the Holy Pool. Sikh’s always must carry a dagger. They are even allowed to carry them on Indian Airlines!
From there we went to the airport and flew back to Delhi. We said goodbye to Ferris and Courtney. We were picked up by a chauffeured driver and a Mercedes for our ride to the Taj Hotel. It was Election Day in Delhi. All of the shops were closed. There was very little traffic. The Taj is set on large grounds and is a relatively new hotel. It is now protected like a fortress. The security was much more evident then at the other Taj Ambassador that we checked out of 2 days ago.
We have never seen such security. We were very happy to see it – although we feel no fear in Delhi. The car, a Taj Mercedes, was searched for bombs. The driver who the guards must know was identified. They have a luggage scanner like at an airport at the entrance to the hotel and all our luggage and hand carries had to go through it. They made me turn on my camera so they could check it. We were then frisked and wanded. Finally we were admitted to the hotel. The hotel is exceptional. We were taken directly to our room where a butler, checked us in. Anything we wanted was available. I purchased a CD of Sikh music and we didn’t have a way to play it in the room. I contacted the butler and soon a man arrived who installed a CD player in the room. They are all solicitous and especially touched when we said we had stayed at the Taj Mumbai, 10 days ago.
We had drinks and prepared for dinner.
We asked for a recommendation for dinner and they suggested a great restaurant in downtown Delhi (not that far from the hotel). It is named Veda. They arranged for a convey of vehicles for us to go there. We were driven in a different chauffeured Mercedes and followed by a taxi. The Taxi would wait for us until we were finished with dinner and were ready to return to the hotel. Nice touch! The dinner was exceptional. Next to us was an Indian couple that was currently living in the US. We spent most of the dinner talking to them. They shared their views in a very open way about India and America. We really enjoyed it.
We left the restaurant and our Taxi was waiting for us. We then returned to the Taj and after going through security prepared for bed. It was a great day.