A Spiritual day at Amritsar

Tripoto
4th Nov 2010
Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar 1/7 by Mahuya Paul
Empty stands on the Pakistani side of Wagah Border
Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar 2/7 by Mahuya Paul
Me with the crowd at the Wagah Border
Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar 3/7 by Mahuya Paul
A guru in all his glory
Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar 4/7 by Mahuya Paul
Bullet marks in Jalianwalabagh
Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar 5/7 by Mahuya Paul
Martyr's Well @ Jalianwalabagh
Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar 6/7 by Mahuya Paul
Me @ the Golden Temple
Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar 7/7 by Mahuya Paul
Golden temple on Diwali

I loved Amritsar so much, that I had to go back a second time. And it was twice as charming!

I call this a spiritual retreat because the three stops on my itinerary brought out three different emotions - and each one surprised me. Profusely.

We traveled from Delhi and took the Delhi - Amritsar Swarna Shatabdi @ 7.20 am which reaches Amritsar at 1:35 pm. The good news is there are 25 other trains throughout the day - so you can choose your own timing. Similarly there are as many trains back. But Shatabdi is Shatabdi, and reaching at 2 pm is perfect timing because of the hotel check-in hours. We booked a taxi at the station itself which promised to take us around the city.

Amritsar is a very small town, with 3 major attractions and you can finish all three on the same day at a leisurely pace. My advice is that you follow the itinerary below:

1. The Golden Temple with Langar: Start off with the Golden temple, also known as Harmandir Sahib or the Abode of God, during the day. If you arrive before lunch, try the Langar - for the experience, if not for the food - although the food is good too. Since we reached post lunch, we went back the next day to have the langar. But before that, we stood in a long queue to pay our respect to the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy text of Sikhism. I mention this as a must-do because of the atmosphere. The bhajans, the devotees, the holy pond, the incense smell and the general ambiance induces a sense of calm in you.

Remember that you have to take off your shoes and cover your head at all times inside the temple.

Here's a picture of a typical Langar at the Golden Temple.

Photo of Golden Temple, Golden Temple Road, Amritsar, Punjab, India by Mahuya Paul

2. Jalianwala Bagh: This is situated right next door. So you cannot miss it. And you must not. There is so much history connected to this place. It's not a very huge garden and you can see most of it in around 30 minutes. Feel free to spend more time here. Or less. It is definitely going to make you feel a bit sombre. Which is why you should come out and have authentic Punjabi parantha dipped in ghee and paneer/chicken butter masala in the nearby food places to lift your spirits up. :) Once again, I cannot emphasize how tasty that is!

Photo of Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab, India by Mahuya Paul

3. Wagah Border: Next you travel to Attari, a village of Amritsar District 3 km from the Indo-Pakistani border at Wagah for the India -Pakistan 'lowering of the flag' ceremony. It's a 45 minutes ride from the Golden temple and there are ample vehicles that would take you there, wait for you for the entire duration of the ceremony, typically around an hour, and drop you back to the city.

This ceremony itself is unlike anything that you have seen or imagined before. And its a real spectacle, I must say. I have been here twice and the galleries are always jam-packed on the Indian side of the Indo-Pak border. I have no idea who these people are, and where they come from everyday. But everyone takes part in the collective frenzy of the drama that entails at the border during sunset.

Photo of Wagah, Hardo Rattan, Punjab, India by Mahuya Paul

4. Golden Temple with the lights - Come back to the Golden temple for a night view with stunning lights.

For some reason, I decided to visit The Golden Temple on Diwali oblivious of the fact that it's the best time to visit Amritsar. :) In fact, a Punjabi adage eulogizes the Diwali celebrations of Amritsar: Dal roti ghar di, Diwali Amritsar di (home cooked food and Amritsar’s Diwali have no parallels).

We discovered it in all its lightning glory. I felt like I walked into a Punjabi wedding celebration. The entire city was lit up and there was a general sense of festivity in the air. We spent a long, long time at the Golden temple, checked the local bazaars and called it a night.

Photo of A Spiritual day at Amritsar by Mahuya Paul

For some reason, I want to go back to Amritsar again.

This really is a city where you can eat, pray and love!

Watch a video of the Retreat Ceremony at the Wagah Border

When I visited the Golden temple, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and serene. I did not want to come back. I wanted to take a holy dip in the water. I wanted to sit and sing bhajans the entire day. I wanted to watch the long line of people patiently waiting for their turn to get inside the main temple. No one was in a hurry. Tip: Keep your head covered all the time - men, women, and children. If you don't have anything, you will find something to buy outside the temple.

Photo of Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, Punjab, India by Mahuya Paul

I knew Jalianwala Bagh only in history books and TV serials. But to experience the place first hand was surreal. I could visualize everything that might have happened on that fated day.

Photo of Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab, India by Mahuya Paul

This is a real surprise. And a real spectacle, I must say. I have been here twice and the galleries are always jam-packed on the Indian side of the Indo-Pak border. I have no idea who these people are, and where they come from. But everyone takes part in the collective frenzy of the drama that entails at the border during sunset.

Photo of Wagah, Hardo Rattan, Punjab, India by Mahuya Paul
Be the first one to comment