I am not that religious but this is one of my favourite places to visit in Delhi. It is a busy and crazy place but it also brings everyone together from all walks of life : tourists, business men, politicians, working people, the homeless…you name it! When I happened to be there the German football team even turned up! I only know this as we had a german guy on the tour who soundly been came very surprised and excited!
This place is a definite sight to see whilst visiting Delhi and that isn’t just my opinion; it has been voted among the top tourist and pilgrimage spots in Delhi.
Facts about the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib:
- One of the most prominent Sikh houses of worship in Delhi
- Situated near Connaught Place, New Delhi on Baba Kharak Singh Marg
- It is instantly recognisable by its golden dome and tall flagpole
- Thousands visit everyday
- A public Gurdwaras kitchen that anyone can serve/eat in
It is definitely a very impressive site from the moment you arrive. It towers above the noisy streets and markets of Delhi, yet is tranquil as you enter. You would hardly notice that you were in the city! As mentioned above it has distinct golden domes, a large flagpole holding the sikh symbol but also a mesmerizing pool of water sits nestled in the grounds.
All visitors must be barefoot and heads covered. Entering, we passed through a cleansing pool underfoot and through into the temple. There you can visit the temple or just delve in the hum of religious chants, visitors and the distant life of the city. After visiting the temple itself I would definitely visit the kitchens before exiting…
The Gurdwara Kitchen. Sceptical at first but after listening to our tour guide about the Sikh faith and how those of all faiths, races, walks of life are welcomed into the kitchen to partake, I started to see the kindness of this faith. Now this is a top experience but it is not for the faint hearted. I don’t mean that in a negative manner, just be aware that if you want to join for the meal you will have to race locals for a seat/entry to the hall. Theres not much order, apart from a blessing before entering; worth watching even if you don’t speak the language. Also you will be requested to take your shoes off and wear a head covering.
Inside there are rows of carpet on the floor to sit on and don’t be alarmed if it gets a bit cosy. Here you’ll be given a tray and that’s most likely to be it. As we were part of a tour we were given some cutlery too, but if you’re alone don’t expect this as it is normal to eat with your hands. You will be served promptly with food from the kitchen. Nothing too fancy but authentic and tasty local food i.e.. dal, chapatis, rice, vegetable curries (all vegetarian). You are welcome to as much as you want and they will keep serving you until you are full. Just bear in mind that it is seen as an insult to leave food.
One of the best aspects however is the preparation of the food. Visiting the kitchens is a must for this tour. It appears slightly like a basic factory when you enter; hot steamy and noisy. Yet it is run all with the help from volunteers. This means that anyone can help. Even you. Yes I would highly recommend getting hands on. Personally a few of us got the opportunity to help make the chapatis and although we didn’t speak the same language as the ladies helping (and my chapatis were questionable), everyone was so welcoming and positive, you’ll leave on cloud nine!
In the Kitchens
Inside the hall
Things to remember:
You will be requested to wear a head covering and remove your shoes. If you go with a tour guide, they will provide you with a head band/clothe and safe place to store your shoes. If you venture alone, I would recommend finding somewhere to store your shoes (there is a free shoe storing room) or wear something you wouldn’t miss if it went missing.
With this in mind the tours are a good way to also learn about the basics of the religion and site/temple. Prior to entering we were given a talk and able to ask questions with local members of the faith.
Women in particular try to be respectful and not wear anything too revealing. I would recommend taking a scarf to cover head/shoulders at least or wrap around your waist if wearing shorts. Men may also be asked to cover up too i.e.. wearing vest tops, shorts.
Finally remember to enjoy yourself! You don’t have to be religious, I found this experience more to do with the culture and character of local people from every walk of life. It is inspiring to see how people can leave their differences at the door/gates and join together whilst here. You’ll definitely leave with a smile.