My sister is visiting from Scotland with her family and like every other person with limited leave days, they came for a two-week holiday. In the two weekends that they were here, we as a family, managed to utilise one weekend to go to Nakuru National Park and this last weekend to go to Sikh Temple Makindu.
This is a very prominent landmark on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and all travelers, regardless of cast or religion, can walk right in and be served a hot meal, free of cost. The history of this temple can be searched on the Internet.
I visited this temple after exactly twenty years. Everyone keeps asking me what took so long? The last time when I went in 1995, I think it was actually the last time I ever did a road trip to the Coast, and on the way we stopped at Makindu. After that, flying to Mombasa became cheaper and easier so it was the done thing to spend forty five minutes to get to Mombasa rather than almost six hours, of course including the obligatory stops at Makindu and Voi.
I was astounded at how much the temple has changed and become so modernised. There’s paved parking in the areas that were covered with red soil. As soon as you enter the premises, there’s a new temple building on the left and then some very comfortable rooms for overnight travellers. It didn’t end there. The accommodation blocks stretched right to the end of the property with fantastic amenities and really well-kept rooms.
The big hall at the back was being given a facelift and was closed down. The ‘langar’ (dining) hall was as I remembered it and the helpers (sewadars) were in full force looking after everyone.
I walked to the part where, as a child, I used to play on the swings. I remember the red soil all over that area and how we would take turns with other kids, very grudgingly, on the swings. Everyone was loath to have their turn come to an end.
This whole area has now been refurbished and there’s a parking shed in place where an ambulance and other vehicles donated by donors are parked. I was glad to note that the same swings I played on as a kid had not been destroyed but simply relocated to another area where other recreational items had been installed for kids.
The temple runs on the donations of well wishers and thousands of travellers stop here each year, simply in search of peace or as a halfway house as they travel to and fro the highway. The serenity of the place is lovely — I really enjoyed myself as I relived some special memories from the past as a child that had me wishing I could visit more often.
The road to Makindu is lovely but unfortunately it took us five hours to get there. Two and a half hours were to battle the traffic in Nairobi itself, while the rest were to drive slowly behind heavy goods vehicles (HGV) with no courtesy to use climbing lanes. I still don’t understand why HGVs are not banned from our main roads during the day. They should be allowed to do their thing from 10pm onwards so that there isn’t traffic congestion.
All in all, a memorable trip and I hope I won’t take another twenty years to go back again.