Today we went to a gurdwara which is supposed to hold special significance. "Gurdwara":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurdwara literally means "Guru" (Guru) "Dwara" (Place of Residence). The "Sikh":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikhism religion / way of life was established around the period of Mughal rule. Guru Govind Singh's family were killed at the place which is now the gurdwara by being burnt alive, because they refused to become muslim. Apparently it's really interesting to go "downstairs", but because I didn't know there _was_ a "downstairs" I didn't go. The pictures are really to show what a gurdwara is like _in general_, as opposed to the story I just discussed _specifically_.
This is a very _large_ gurdwara. In the Gurdwara you are supposed to walk around barefoot, and decent Gurdwaras have a little water thing where you clean your feet before you enter (and clean them before you leave, in case it's dusty). This Gurdwara is massive, though, and the "barefoot walking area" is gigantic. They actually have little walking paths so that you burn burn or freeze your feet (marble floors and the sun / lack of sun). Outside, I would expect "Langar":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langar_(Sikhism) to take place. Inside the actual prayer room itself (which is remarkably small) you're supposed to walk in, donate some money, get your mattha taken (which means bowing your head to the ground), do a "satstriakal" and sit down. Boys and girls sit on opposite sides of the room, from where they apparently perv on each other.
The guy in front of the room reads from the "Guru Granth Sahib", which is the name of the holy book ("Sahib" means "Mr" though, so I don't get why a book is called that). There's a procedure of saying stuff and doing things by which the book is opened and closed, and it takes a while. There's also some way of getting to the passage which will be read. Both the procedure and the text itself is impenetrable. Most punjabis I've talked to don't know what's being read, not to mention myself, who has a decent hold on Hindi but even pindi (village) punjabis confuse me.
The speaking itself is sort of melodic (like the reading of the koran?) and for some bits the guy out-and-out starts singing. There's also a music trio consisting of two singers who also have harmoniums, and a tabla player who occasionally also sings. From my experience thus far all the tabla players look identical, like that nurse in Pokemon. The music trio sing songs of praise, and occasionally gets their lyrics from passages in the Guru Granth Sahib.
After visiting the Gurdwara, we went to "Aam Khas Bagh". Literally translated, this is "Common Special Fort" (I think). It means a place for everyone. It has some unique design features and the thing works as a mini society unto itself. It has farming areas, gardens, water features, and a bunch of other things. It also has plumbing which doubles as air conditioning. The water running through the holes in the building runs throughout the entire building, cooling it. It also goes into baths, which can be used for taking baths as well as providing additional cooling.
According to my dad, the boys building was separate to the girls' building. This may have lead to interesting times. The fort also contained a well which was operated by an animal walking around in circles. The well is gigantic, and comes complete with a little spiral staircase thingy so people can go down it. It's also very deep, and would've contained the necessary water to sustain the entire fort.