When travelling to go to Sri Anandpur Sahib it was nice to see plants and trees had been planted on the sides of the road. We first of all visited 'Viraasat-E-Khalsa' (Khalsa Heritage Museum), which is a new museum/exhibition that has been made to show case Sikh history to the public. In photos and the news the building looks like an eyesore because you can see it from an aerial view. However, in person you cannot realise that much and it doesn't look too bad. Although it is nicely made, it definitely does not reflect Sikh culture and could easily be mistaken for a building in any Western country.
To visit Viraasat-E-Khalsa is free of charge, however you need to get a ticket from the ticket office. There were three lines to queue. One was for men, the other for women and the third was for NRIs and Old Aged Pensioners. There was one man who had a red Dastaar and a black tied up beard who asked me where the line for the OAPs was. I told him it was the third line and that it is only for 60 years or over people. The guy replied back, "I am over eighty-five years old." A Singh standing next to me and I were shocked that someone of the age of 85 had gone to so much trouble to dye his beard black and 'tried' to look so young. The English saying "Growing Old Gracefully" didn't apply in this case. Chalo.
Sadly as my flip flops had been stolen earlier on in the day, so I was walking around barefooted. It was quite embarrassing going into the Viraasat-E-Khalsa as everyone else had their shoes on and there was me barefooted! Waheguru. When you enter the Viraasat-E-Khalsa the first light, image and sound exhibition is based on village or town scenes of Panjab. Then you are given earphones. You can choose which language you would like. As you walk around the remaining exhibitions on the history of the Sikh religion you are given an audio guided tour. It was pretty impressive and I think the artwork was very creative. The audio tours are available in English, Hindi and Panjabi.
The only criticisms I would have (which are very serious and worrying!) are the following:
- The pictures depicting Guru Nanak Dev jee showed Guru Sahib wearing a Selhi Topi (hat), a Tilak (red frontal mark) on his forehead) and earrings in his ears. It looked like the images had been heavily influenced by Hinduism/Sanaatanism.
- When explaining the 5 Ks, they had an animation of a Sikh man who was wearing earrings whilst combing his hair.
- The pictures depicting the 15 Bhagats showed the majority of them with cut hair and wearing hats. Something I am sure the RSS and other anti-Sikh forces would love.
- In the English audio tour they refer to Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee as 'The Holy Book'.
Afterwards we had darshan of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib and made our journey back home. During the journey back there was a heavy storm. Looking through the car screen I saw so many people nearly getting run over. I suppose the one plus point of travelling by car in India is that you always have "Waheguru" on your lips! Waheguru.