India 2013 - Day Five

Today we had an incredibly early start as we had a three hour road journey to Amritsar ahead of us!

The journey was interesting as there are always so many sights to see as you travel around the different parts of the region. It was a very hot day (possibly the hottest so far) and so it was tricky at times travelling so far in the school bus without the air conditioning that we are used to!

When we arrived in Amritsar, it was very busy. The streets were buzzing with people, all heading to The Golden Temple. The teachers who accompanied us explained that it would be especially busy as the festival of Baisakhi is happening soon (the festival which celebrates the first harvest) and so many people, particularly farmers, would want to travel to the temple.

The Golden Temple is an amazing sight and we really enjoyed looking at this special place which welcomes and serves the four key religions of India.

After visiting the temple and enjoying some lunch, we moved on to visit Jallianwala Bagh which is the site and memorial garden for the massacre which took place in the city in 1919. It was a fascinating place but was quite haunting to look around with original bullet marks from the time identified on the walls.

From Amritsar, we moved on to the Wagha Border which is where the borders of India and Pakistan meet. Here we watched the retreat ceremony which is performed every day and attended by many people from both countries. It was a great experience and it was fun to see the Indian people showing passionate patriotism through their chanting, dancing, singing and the ceremony itself which we thought could be compared to the changing of the guard which tourists often like to see in London.

After the busy (and hot) day, we were very tired. We were not finished yet though! One of the teachers of Bawa Lalvani (Ms. Jasmeen) had kindly invited us to her home to have dinner and meet her family so after our three hour return journey we arrived at the house welcomed by the whole family and two other members of staff from the school.

Dinner was fantastic! Indian hospitality is very important to them and it was a great experience to talk to the family (parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles ... all living in the same house) and to enjoy some authentic and traditional home cooked dishes. We felt very privileged to have been invited and it was interesting too to look around the large house which the family shared and notice some of the similarities and differences to our homes in England.

So, after a long day we are exhausted! It has been great though with many very special memories made from our visits and experiences. We are heading to bed now (it is after midnight and we have not been home long!) as we have another early start tomorrow with a visit to a different local school planned.

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