BY VISHAL GULATI
Chandigarh, July 28 (IANS) Spirituality, heritage and some traditional cuisine, all the ingredients nicely and properly blended to offer recipe for a perfect memorable trip of the German ambassador to Amritsar city in Punjab.
German Ambassador to India, Walter J. Lindner, on Wednesday told IANS that he was spiritually rejuvenated after paying obeisance at Harmandir Sahib, the Sikhs’ holiest and largest shrine in the world, popularly known as the Golden Temple.
Also he experienced the Punjabi culture, heritage, colours and flavours by exploring the city’s old winding lanes housing grand heritage and enjoyed the butter-rich ‘lassi’.
“Definitely yes, I feel spiritually up after the visit to the Golden Temple,” the 65-year-old envoy, whose fascination once brought him to India as a backpacker in the 1970s, told IANS during a telephonic interaction.
He said he read a lot about the Golden Temple before finalizing his maiden visit to Punjab.
Explaining his visit to the Sikh shrine, he said: “Once you enter the temple you feel a certain spirit — the spirit of solidarity and peace. You can see (the spirit) on the faces of people in devotion, in good spirit, you can feel it. The holy water, the holy trees and the holy book (Guru Granth Sahib).”
The envoy, who was back to the national capital on July 27 after a road trip of over 1,000 km, said he was impressed with the world’s largest kitchen in the Golden Temple where on an average free fresh vegetarian meals are being served to 50,000 to 75,000 people all day and night and the number increases on weekends and special occasions.
Donning a head scarf, Lindner, who was seen with his palms held together in a “Namaste” greeting in the Golden Temple, said he visited free kitchens during his visit to gurdwaras in Delhi on several occasions.
“Seeing the people bathing in the holy ‘sarovar’ and drinking the holy water gives you an idea of the strength of Sikhism and its message. These are the values of which we are in need today in the world.”
Sparing time from his hectic visit, the envoy, a musician and a lawyer by profession, visited streets and alleyways to discover the heritage of the city of Amritsar.
“I read a lot about Amritsar and intentionally wanted to visit the markets of the city. I visited four or five markers and all of them were interlinked. And I especially want to see those areas where the buildings are 100 years and 150 years old.”
Walter says, “During the visit to one of the markets, I enjoyed the ‘lassi’ on the street despite my security and staff. It was very hot day to have a very good ‘lassi’.”
Before the sunset, Walter visited the zero point on the Attari-Wagah international border, around 30 km from the holy city.
The flag-hoisting, ceremonial drill and Beating Retreat was a low-key affair at the Joint Check Post owing to the coronavirus pandemic but worth it, he said.
The border guards were stomping their feet and raising them high, besides shouting.
“It is not a theatre (that they are making aggressive gestures). It (the drill) gives a kind of feeling that the border is difficult one, but the soldiers are saluting from one side to another so that they can have some practical relationship and to see each other every day,” he said.
During his return journey to the national capital, Walter had interactive meetings in Chandigarh with Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Governor V.P. Badnore and Haryana’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Governor Bandaru Dattatreya.
“Very fruitful talks about Punjab and Haryana and what we can do together and what would be the future prospective on environment, students’ exchange and mutual strategies to explore new trade and investment opportunities in both the states,” he said.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
BY VISHAL GULATI