If you love Road Trips as much as we do, then Punjab is one of the best places for a Road Trip. It has great roads and road network even in the interiors. You are continuously treated to beautiful views and you get to see combination of lush hills, green fields, and rivers and lakes. It’s a combination of nature at its best and people living in harmony with nature.
Here is our itinerary of our Punjab Trip
Day 1 & 2 - Chandigarh
We started our trip from Chandigarh. You can easily spend a couple of days here soaking in the sights, mix of cultures and food and people. More importantly, Chandigarh being the capital is centrally located, well connected by flights and also has the amenities necessary to start your journey. As soon as we landed, we headed to the local Zoom car service centre and collected the car we had pre-booked and kick started the road trip.
Places to visit in Chandigarh
The Rock Garden of Chandigarh is a sculpture garden made entirely of industrial and home waste items. Here you will find sculptures made out of broken bangles, bottles, glass pieces, ceramic tea plates etc. We even found a sink and a commode embedded into one of the sculptures.
Sukhna Lake – This is a rain fed lake in Chandigarh is the heart of the city and the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the Shivalik hills. We recommend that you opt for the self-paddle boats as they are more fun and you can watch the migratory birds – The Siberian Duck, Storks and Cranes that converge here during winters at your own pace.
Capitol Complex houses the Palace of Assembly or Legislative Assembly, Secretariat Building and the High Court plus four monuments (Open Hand Monument, Geometric Hill, T0wer of Shadows and the Martyrs Monument) and a lake. It was designed by Le Corbusier and is the city’s most awe inspiring landmark. Le Corbusier designed Chandigarh city as a living person with the Capitol Complex forms the head of the city, the sectors formed the trunk, the city centre was the heart, with education as the left arm and industry as the right arm.
Punjab is also famous for its food and Chandigarh has its share of the best of the best eateries. Our top picks are
Garg Chat – for amazing samosas and chats
Pal Dhabha – for Rajma Chawal, Dal Makhni, Butter Chicken and other dhabha style food
The Black Lotus at the Taj serves the one of best Chinese anywhere in India
And finally India Coffee House for coffee, conversation, dosas and nostalgia. This place has been an institution since 1957
Day 3 - Ludhiana
From Chandigarh we headed to Amritsar with a brief stop at Ludhiana, probably the largest industrial city in the state. The city is littered with old buildings, small factories, warehouses and the humdrum that is typical of an industrial town. Places to visit in Ludhiana
Maharaja Ranjit Singh War Museum on the outskirts of the city documents Punjab’s illustrious military history. The museum has an impressive display of medals and memorabilia of soldiers and officers who have shown great bravery in War including the Paramvir Chakra (India’s highest commendation for bravery). This is a must visit when you are in Ludhiana. You are sure to come out of the museum with a deep sense of pride and patriotism.
Gurudwara Nanaksar Jagraon – is located some 38 kms from Ludhiana and is a memoir to Guru Govind Singh. This beautifully architected gurudwara is known for its peace, solace and brotherhood.
Day 4 and 5 – Amritsar
Amritsar is the most famous city in Punjab because of the Golden Temple, also known as Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara - the holiest Gurdwara. The city gets its name from Amrit Sarovar (the pool of Nectar), the holy tank that surrounds the Golden Temple.
Places to visit in Amritsar
Golden Temple – is the most important and holiest Gurudwara of Sikhs. The upper floors of the Gurudwara is covered in 750 kgs of pure gold and hence, the name Golden Temple. This temple has 4 entrances facing different directions signifying that it is open to all people irrespective of their religion or caste. The pool surrounding the temple is called Amrit Sarovar (meaning the pool of Nectar of Immortality) and is said to have medicinal properties because of the vibrations created by the continual recitation of the Gurbani in the temple shrine. Also, the temple shrine is submerged in the Amrit Sarovar. Guru Arjan (the 5th Guru of the Sikhs initiated the construction of the temple) planned it in the lower level to signify humility. He believed that devotees should expunge their egos before meeting their Guru.
Beating the Retreat ceremony at the Wagah Border - Every evening, just before sunset, the soldiers from the India’s BSF and Pakistan Rangers meet at this border post and put on a 30-minute show of military camaraderie and showmanship. This ceremony includes the closing of the international gates and lowering the flags of both countries. The flag ceremony has been conducted by the Indian Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers since 1959.
Sri Tarn Taran Sahib – is one of the most beautiful Gurudwaras. Its pristine white structure is topped with a lotus dome which has an ornamental gold pinnacle with an umbrella-shaped gold finial. The interiors contain exquisite stucco work in intricate designs, inset with reflecting glass pieces. A relay recital of Kirtan goes on from early morning until late in the evening. The Gurdwara established by the fifth guru of the Sikhs - Guru Arjan Dev. The holy pond or the Sarovar is the largest in in any Gurudwara in Punjab. Interestingly, Tarn Taran means “a boat that takes one across the ocean of existence”.
Jallianwala Bagh – is a memorial to the massacre of thousands of peaceful protestors took place on the orders of General Dyer in April 1919. This incident is considered by some historians as the decisive step towards the end of British rule in India. You can see the bullet holes in the walls, the well in which people jumped to save themselves and their loved ones.
Amritsar Old City Market – is a treasure house of Punjabi handicrafts especially the famous Phulkari (traditional hand embroidery of Punjab), Punjabi cuisine and other souvenirs
Amiritsar is also heaven for foodies - lassi, kulcha channa, dal makhni, palak paneer at Bharawan da Dhabha, Kesar Da Dhabha are a must try when you are here.
Day 6 – Pathankot
Pathankot is a few hours’ drive from Amritsar and is situated in the northern side of Punjab. It’s a picturesque hill town with a large military cantonment. It is best known for the Muketshwar Cave Temples. These 3 cave temples are believed to exist from the time of Mahabharat. It is said that Pandavas when exiled (on their 12 years of Vanvas) resided in these caves in their final year of exile. They even built a kitchen here to serve food to all beings that passed this way and in keeping with this tradition, free langar is still served here. We had a simple meal of rice and lentils. The caves are located on the banks of the Ravi river whose waters are crystal clear. When you reach here you understand what is the meaning of heaven on earth.
Day 7 and 8 – Gurdaspur
If you are going to Punjab, experiencing a village stay is must. We spent a couple of days in Nawanpind Sardarn, an idyllic village near Gurdaspur. The Kothi, a farm stay here is a 20th century farm house surrounded by lush fields, orange orchards and dairy farms. You can spend your time strolling through the fields, spending time with the villagers (the elders spend their time sitting on charpoys and soaking in the sun, sharing experiences and words of wisdom) and gorging on homemade Punjabi cuisine.
Day 9 – Travel back to Chandigarh
We started our journey back to Chandigarh from Gurdaspur. You can either take the straight route back or meander your way through villages and take a circuitous route back to Chandigah. The drive across Punjab not only is picturesque but an absolute joy to drive providing views of beautiful green and yellow fields and lush woods.