Chapatis, Daal Soup, Subzi and Kheer is not usually what you would expect when you go inside a place of worship, but this is what you would find in this Sikh Temple Langar where no-one goes hungry regardless of their religion, caste or creed. We were taken to a little room where all the shoes are stored, not really meant to keep socks on either and if you did not come prepared with a head scarf you were given a little orange head scarf to wear inside the temple. We were given an information leaflet on Sikhism and it was humbling to move among these incredibly selfless people who give up their time and expect nothing in return to prepare food for 10,000 people every day. We moved passed the big dining hall where there were rows upon rows of people sitting and eating. All are welcome here and in the Sikh belief they serve God by serving other people every day. They devote their lives to service and work in the Gurduwara as their service to the community. Work ranges from cooking in the kitchens to cleaning the floors. The Langar is a free food kitchen and is a community act of service. Caring for the poor and the sick is an important part of their duty and service to God. The kitchen was huge, with the biggest set of pots and pans you could ever imagine!
Below far left is Robin and on the right with the cameras are Ian Wright, our tour guide, and the lovely Jane Fenner. Robin, Ian Wright and Jane Fenner
Women, men and children are all involved in the work and it is like a well oiled conveyer belt with roti's or chapati's flipping out ready for the many hungry people weaving through the doors. We were told that apart from this amazing work, they also prepare rice every day to send to the people of Nepal after the devastating earthquake. Again, I was incredibly humbled and left to think about how I could do more for others.
On a different matter, I was having a nightmare on the photography front. Here I was on a photography trip to one of the most amazing countries in the world and I felt frozen! I could not read people's body language. I realised how many of my cues I take from people's body language, especially when you don't speak the language. In Cuba it was so easy, people are extremely expressive and open in their body language. If they want you to go a way they show you in no uncertain terms and the same if they were happy for you to photograph them, but here, mannerisms seemed more subdued, softer, quieter. I will admit I felt very sad and disappointed with myself at this point, I also needed a different smaller day travel bag just for the lenses and cameras for the day which I did not have. I did however solve this problem the following day as I ripped the separators out of my Lowepro camera bag and lined a lightweight rucksack that also doubles up as a bumbag and padded it further with scarves and other necessities for the day. This helped enormously.
The Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is near Connaught Place and the main temple for the Sikhs of Delhi. It is a beautiful building and even though most of it is quite simple and beautifully constructed in white marble, there is the exception of the shrine covered by a small golden dome. The waters here called 'Armit' are said to have magical powers for healing the sick. Bangla Sahib was dedicated to the eighth Sikh Guru, Sri Harkishen Sahib.
Here I will introduce Jeff Kearns, a talented photographer and great travel companion with many interesting life stories and knowledge, especially about furniture restoration! Here he is in action...
Jane and I got a bit lost on our way out of here and if ever in doubt walk like you know where you're going, through the waters, I believe the wrong side as we got some interesting stares, but we got out, back to our shoes that were still waiting in their pairs for us which was a relief. Good to feel the comfort of my walking shoes once more and point them in the direction of another adventure. Our last visit in the South of Delhi was the Qutab Minar which is a 72.5 meters high and the world's tallest brick minaret. It is also one of the most perfect towers in the Persian world. The complex on this site has structures dating from the Slave Dynasty (1206-1290).
Above is the Iron Pillar, a metallurgical curiosity that has attracted archaeologists and materials scientists as it has shown a very high resistance against corrosion due to an even layer of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate hydrate (thank you Wikipedia!) forming on the high phosphorus content iron and this protects it from the Indian climate. It was erected in approximately 402CE, and was relocated here in 1233CE.