3 learnings from the visit to the Golden Temple of Amritsar’s Largest Free Kitchen in the world

People often talked about the Golden Temple with great enthusiasm and there’s only one way to understand the real reason for this enthusiasm – By visiting it. A few months back we had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Golden Temple. But only when you visit the temple do you know all dimensions of why this temple finds so a special place in everyone’s heart.

Along with the temple, I was excited to explore one of the largest kitchens in India that served people even during the Covid-19 pandemics. A kitchen that is powered by selflessly dedicated volunteers. Here’s our story of a lovely experience we had visiting the chefs and the people that make Goldern temple the largest langar serving place in the world.

The 7 am Visit to the Golden Temple Kitchen

Wondering why 7 am? We wanted to understand what is the process that goes behind this langar at the Golden Temple, especially when it serves over 100K people for free each day. No better time than the earliest side of the morning. It was a golden hour for us to greet and meet the people who make this happen, each day. We could easily walk into the lanes within the temple.

The Golden Temple Kitchen is situated just behind the serving hall and we had a great walk toward the kitchen. But what we saw while we walked were two interesting storage areas containing the packs of groceries at large.

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Donations from Volunteers and well-wishers

A curious mind of mine asked a volunteer out there “Is this a monthly stock or daily?“. He patiently replied, “This is a daily contribution by the people”.  Each day plenty of people donate groceries in large packs which are stored in different compartments of the Kitchen area at the Golden Temple. Here are some more images of contributions made on that day.

 

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Donations from Volunteers and well-wishers

It is speculated that over 4million dollars are required to drive this kitchen but generous volunteers and regular contributors make it easy.  There are dedicated areas for each kind of contribution which are stacked. “There is no end to the supplies“. He added. “There are plenty of supplies and food made here. The almighty is here to take care. This place can never run out of food”. Goosebumps

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Donations from Volunteers and well-wishers

The Man and his team

Every mission needs the right people to be along. But most importantly, the right people need the right guidance through the process. Not often when you travel you meet kind souls that communicate with the same intensity and passion as much as you do. We were blessed to meet the man ( Head Chef) who works all through the day to make the kitchen function, all along with his team.  It takes more than passion to cook food and serve unlimitedly for a noble cause.

The driving force is trust in good and belief in ‘Doing good for people’. All the people who contribute towards this are driven voluntarily. They believe ‘selfless service’ is an important part of Sikhism.

The head chef was amazing to talk to. Though our words were getting translated into Punjabi for him to understand but eventually he grabbed the meaning of all that we spoke in Hindi or English. After a few exchanges, he said, “It’s nice to talk. I’ve been featured by many, even international teams have featured me online. But first, Let me show you the Kitchen” and took us to the cooking area.

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The ‘Head Chef’ as they call him

It was the earlier hour of the morning and hence the volunteers were preparing for the meal. This area is situated over the burner that’s powered by wood logs. It is equally important to keep the top area cool to ensure people can easily walk on the top. He generously guided this volunteer in the picture to cool the area on which we were to step on.

The Burner and the preparation - The Golden Temple
The Burner and the preparation

The area that is just above the ground level where walking is just like walking on hot sand. All thanks to the burner. But at this point, all you focus on are the large utensils that are used to cook and the preparations that go along.

The utensils and Preparation at the Golden Temple, Amritsar
The utensils and Preparation at the Golden Temple, Amritsar

The scale of the kitchen has been expanding over the last many years. Wondering what got just cooked? Check below:

The delicious preparation
The delicious preparation

Tea with the master

The head chef said in Punjabi “Do you wish to have tea?“. Hesitant me but I wouldn’t miss this opportunity. I love tea and having a great time talking to him would be awesome. He indicated to one of his volunteers to bring two tea and within 15-20 sec, it was presented to us in a metal cup.

Wherever we travel, we love tasting tea. Undoubtedly, this was the best tea we had in our whole life. It has much more than tea. The hands that made them serve thousands of people across the years, passionately and selflessly. I asked “Why don’t you join us?” and he smiled with the agreement. We were blessed.

Within 30mins from the time we entered this arena, we felt comfortable talking to everyone who was part of this kitchen. I had a few questions which I asked him “So when do you take a break?“. He smiled at me and said, “Whenever he wants me to take one. But I don’t remember when I took a rest. I drive on his force” by pointing up to the Golden Temple.

By no means did he look tired, instead had energy levels high to respond to every query that was asked by his team regarding cooking plans for the day. That answer was so pleasant and pleasing that I skipped all the other queries that bubbled into my mind. At the end of this talk, we thank him and he gracefully said “Do visit us again”.

Walking back with memories

The kitchen experience was one of the rarest opportunities for us to experience what goes behind the show of running the world’s largest free kitchen. To power such a kitchen, not just belief in ownself but several hands of selfless contribution bring a significant value. This place totally reminds us of how people work selflessly to help others against all tides of life. A life lesson to learn on ‘Keep doing your Best work‘ and ‘God will do the Rest‘.

When you travel to the Golden Temple, I highly recommend visiting and meeting the Master and his forces. May the Force be with him 🙂

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Entrepreneur, Life Long learner, Ex-coffee Addict

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