'The Golden Temple' is instantly recognised, whether you've been to it or not, you know what it looks like.
For those who have been - have you ever wondered what it was like before the live streams, the microphones, the lights - electricity?!! Ever wondered who visited it before it became a tourist hot-spot with direct flights to Amritsar?
For those who haven't (but probably will want to after 'experiencing' this book!) - this book gives you an insight to the evolution of The Golden Temple - how it changed with each decade (from the 1500s to present) and how it was perceived - as captured by the variety of images, through drawings, carvings, paintings, and photographs.
Although, if you are more interested in the origins of images and context - the references are at the back, along with a map of what the Golden Temple complex originally looked like! Its worth mentioning that there are European eye-witness accounts at the beginning, which set the context of this place as a historical landmark as one piece written by Emily Eden describes Maharaja Ranjit Singh's visit from a European's eye! Of course, if you are interested in historical changes in Sikh history and Sikh identity presented in a written history - its worth a look at their previous book 'In the Master's Presence' - fascinating stuff - best of both worlds!
The best thing about this book is that it is not a densely written history of the Golden Temple and its not arguing anything - its universal appeal lies in its use of images - it lets you discover the changes, question them and then leads you to discover even more...
There is no doubt the book looks like treasure, but you'd be a fool to miss out on the many treasures its got wrapped up inside!
This is literally the 'best looking' book I've ever seen. To be honest, I'm cheating a little there, as that was actually said by my boss when I showed her my copy of the book!
Once open the true beauty is really found. Original in layout and format, the book begins with a brief introduction, describing a place that may or may not be familiar to many, but quickly moves onto give first hand accounts spanning a few centuries which, even to those who may consider themselves ardent experts, would find fascinating and very surprising. We should stop and admire the great eloquence of language and textual detail used by those travellers of the British Raj. Here the preliminary act ends, leaving the audience ready for the main event.
Paintings, frescos and photography synthesised to produce a time portal into the past, are laid out on the high quality canvas. It is as if you were the proud owner of these relics yourself. Literally a museum of a book, with the attendents posing as small indexed numbers dotted around the page, corresponding to a final tour at the end of the book by the curator themselves, where every image is indexed in `21st century style' web-wise thumbnails, with accompanying synopsises.
To finish, an original plan view of the complex ingeniously captioned so that the aforementioned images can be related to the specific spot from which an observer would be facing.
All in all, a complete museum/theatre like experience in book form. One to go and watch over and over again. (and at minimum to make your bookshelf sparkle ;)
Never before have I placed a book in my hands and been so taken back by its quality and detail. The design, the pictures, and the fascinating eye witness accounts are amazing to say the least. I have never seen a lot of this material before and to see all this research come together in one book on the Golden Temple and the city of Amritsar is a treasure trove in itself, so much that I bought myself a copy and a copy to give as a gift. If there was anyway to honor the beauty and serenity of the Golden Temple then this is it. With all the beautiful paintings, and photographs presented in the book, this is a piece of art in itself and a must for all lovers of art and culture.
Well done to Parmjit Singh and Amandeep Madra for such a great piece of work. I look forward to future publications, and just as a suggestion it would be good to see a book on portraits of those involved in the Sikh world such as the bhagats, the fakirs and other people of prominence that helped shape this path.
This book is sublime in its presentation and quality, the intricate gold inlay on the front cover delays you even opening it.
There are a few accounts from travelers during the period which are great as it paints a picture and transports you to another time, a time generally unknown in Western history but researched and preserved in this piece of art.
I got a sense of serenity looking at the paintings and pictures, which if by design the authors have triumphed in capturing the all encompassing nature of the site itself.