Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey

North India:

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The Sikh Temple, Chandni Chowk, Gurdwara Shish Ganj. (Shish' literally means 'the head'.) was built on the place where Mughal Emperor Aurungzeb beheaded the ninth Sikh Guru, Shri Tegh Bahadur in 1675.  The Guru was killed along with three of his disciples, for protesting against forced conversion of Kashmiri Hindus by Aurungzeb. It is said that his followers secretly took the Guru's head to Anandpur Sahib and his body was taken for cremation to a house which is today known as Gurdwara Rakab Ganj. Shish Ganj is a prominent pilgrim center of the Sikh Community and it is equally revered by the Hindus. 

The temple is very elaborate. Again, we removed our shoes, but this time we were issued wrap-around headscarfs before entering. There was a roped off area for devotees and at the front of the shrine were chanters, one with a squeeze box to provide musical accompaniment, The chanting was continuous all day, ending only when the temple closed. The chanting really consisted of the reading of their holy books. These books are stored in the Golden Room every night and and are brought out each day. 

This temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims, and they must be fed. From the main worship room, Perry, our CEO, led us to another part of the complex where they prepare and cook all the food for the pilgrims. The first section made our mouths water. They were making bread, both manually and mechanically. It was more interesting to watch the group of women rolling out the balls of dough passed over from the "dough boy" :)

Then they threw the pieces onto a hot griddle. The bread, chapati, puffed up, was flipped over, until they are blistered. SO delicious smelling! The bread was thrown into a big basket to be taken out to feed the masses. In another part of the room, the dough was fed into a machine that flattened it out, then onto a hot conveyor where they are cooked and dropped into a basket.

In another section of the kitchen, they were cooking a masala with dal and spices. These were two huge cauldrons, and again, smelling delicious. The mixture was ladled into tin cups and served with a chapati. 

In a third section, we saw rows of pilgrims, sitting, praying, and waiting to be fed. Thousands of people are fed EVERY DAY! On special festival periods, the count can be +25, 000/day. Hard to imagine. The "cooks" can be anyone joining the regular crew.

Leaving the temple we walked to the Metro station. Delhi Metro is the world's 12th largest metro system in terms of both length and number of stations. We were pleased to learn that the train cars were manufactured by the Canadian company, Bombardier. After a stop at Connaught station we carried on back to our hotel

For supper we walked to Spicy by Nature Restaurant and eventually made our back to our Good Times Hotel. Our first day full day in India had been a strenuous inintiation. Our CEO calculated that we had walked over eight kilometres -- all of this in record temperatures that had reached +40C degrees.

The Sikh Temple, Chandni Chiwk



Entering the nearby Sikh kitchens

Lunch at Haldiram's Restaurant - Chandni Chowk

Walk to the Delhi Metro Station

Riding the Metro Bombadier to a Connaught Place stop

Supper at Spicy by Nature

A night stroll back to our hotel


Page 1 :: Outtakes






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Bill and Sue-On Hillman Eclectic Studio