Went on a family holiday recently after ages. It has been our desire to visit the Golden Temple and pay our respects.
DAY 1 :
We took a flight an afternoon flight from Bangalore to Delhi and then another one from Delhi to Amritsar.We had an amazing lunch in the flight thanks to Jet Airways.We reached Amritsar in the evening and were welcomed with a bouquet of flowers at the Airport by the Manager and our driver from Premium Luxury Travels.
We were then driven to our residence for the next two days -The Ritz Plaza. The rooms were lavish and extremely clean. Since we reached post sunset we decided to give The Golden Temple a visit and see it in all it's shining glory.
The Golden Temple is surrounded by a huge complex on all four sides. As soon as you enter the complex you are in awe of what you see. It is a beautiful glistening image of the temple structure in the middle of the water. There is extremely cool breeze blowing on all sides and the music that is played there soothes your soul,truly.
You need to ensure the following before setting foot into the Golden Temple
- Remove your shoes and keep it in the free shoe keeping counter
- Wash your feet in the small pool of water provided
- Men, women and children must ensure that your head is covered at all times inside the premises
- Sit and ground and be at peace
The Harimandir Sahib runs one of the largest free kitchens in the world, serving 100,000 people on average daily. We ate the "langar" provided here. It consisted of roti and kali dal along with a sweet rice kheer. There are a huge number of volunteers at the Golden Temple who provide their services in terms of distribution of food, washing the utensils, keeping the temple premises clean etc.
After a simple yet sumptuous meal we walked in the by-lanes towards our car. On our way back we got to taste freshly made Jalebis and Vadis bought from road side vendors.
Though we slept late the night before, we had made up our minds to wake up early the next morning so that we could capture the Golden Temple in it's morning glory.
We woke up and headed to the temple by around 6am. It was freezing in the morning. Inspite of the time and the weather, the temple complex was flooded with people.
The atmosphere in the temple premise was divine. Verses from the Guru Grant Sahib were being read out and the whole crowd was engrossed in the chanting.
After the darshan at the Golden Temple, we began walking towards the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial which is just a stone's throw away from the temple. I was really expecting to see an open ground with a huge well, that I saw in the patriotic movies but all I saw was a beautified garden and some relic structure.
We then headed back to our hotel for a nice breakfast as we were starving
Post breakfast we headed to the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, it a museum dedicated to the Maharaja and it depicts his life in a very artistic way. This museum is situated inside the Ram Bagh. The Museum displays objects connecting to Maharaja Ranjit Singh such as arms and armour, outstanding paintings and centuries old coins, manuscripts, and jewelry. The garden is well maintained and colourful because of the flowers.
We decided to go shopping after this. We went papad and clothes shopping.
We then headed towards the WAGAH Border. On our way we had some delicious Punjabi Food at a typical highway-da-dhaba.Being at WAGAH Border was a amazing feeling. It felt like everybody's patriotic quotient was up by a 100 notches. They played extremely patriotic music at the stadium and people were over enthusiastic about it. Slogans were being screamed and the Tricolour was being waved.
But the crowd was a disappointment. They were unruly and were refusing to sit down. Thank god for the big projector screens we could catch a glimpse of the parade. Waving out to the Pakistani nationals was the highlight of the evening I think.
We met a Kannadiga soldier there and he was so happy to see someone from this state.The parade ended with the lowering of the Tricolor.
After that we headed back towards Amritsar. The driver had promised me that he would show me the "sarson ke kheth" (mustard fields) made popular by the Bollywood movie "Dil Waale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. He kept up his promise and I was elated.
Day 3 :
We left early in the morning and drove towards Dharamshala via Pathankot. It rained the whole time. The beauty of Punjab was evident all along the highway, lush green fields covering acres of land on both sides of the highway. Whatte view!!
The entire drive was amazing with picturesque views every now and then. The mountains were beautiful indeed.
First stop at Dharamshala was the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium. Because of the rains it was super cold. As soon as we stepped out of the car we had frozen fingers and chattering teeth. But the stadium took our breath away. I mean how do players even feel like playing their game with a view so amazing? I was awestruck, not to forget shivering.
Since the time we set foot in Dharamshala it was raining cats and dogs but the view was still enthralling.
The whole place was covered in fog. Though we drove through McLeod Ganj and the Dal Lake there was barely anything that we could see. We were a little disappointed with the games the weather was playing with us.
Inspite of the rains we managed to walk around the Tibetan Monastery, the Thekehen Choling Monastery.
In the biting cold we saw devout Tibetans going around the temple and reciting their prayers.
I have always found Lord Buddha to be a peaceful soul. Entering the premises and just looking at his calm face made me feel me so much at peace. This monastery is also where His Holiness, the Dalai Lama resides.
DAY 4- BRIGHT and SUNNY
After last evening's rainy fiasco, day 4 started on a bright and sunny note,thankfully.
First stop : St.John's Church in the Wilderness
It is an Anglican church dedicated to John The Baptist. It is has a postcard-esque view. I fell in love with the vintage feel of the place.
Naddi. It is 2000 metres above sea level. It is the only place in Dharamshala where one can get an open view of the mountains. Naddi gives the traveler a quite and basic mountain experience. There are a few small tea stalls here and there. You will also find men who have set up their telescope there so that you can get a good view of the mountains.
This point was where I proudly flaunted my Selfie Stick!! *yay*
After feasting upon snow capped mountains we headed towards the Bhagsunag Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple has a spring and a swimming pool. Further, at a distance of about 1.5km there is a waterfall. It is a steep hike to get to the waterfall. But once you are successful in getting there the feeling is marvelous. The view from the top is amazing
The water here was ice cold and I had blisters on my legs after dipping them in water.
On our way back from our mini hike, we indulged in tiny ball sized Gulab Jamuns.
Too much beauty in one day I must say. We were mesmerized by almost everything we saw.We then drove to Dharamkot which is the starting point for many treks.
Post Dharamkot , we indulged in some leisure time roaming the streets of McLeod Ganj. The place is so colourful and full of people. We felt alien there as the number of Tibetans outnumbered the number of Indians.
The pictures that follow will just be a collection of street pictures. Images of things and people I captured along the way
Day 4 was beyond amazing. Being smitten by the mountains felt glorious. The sunny yet chill weather was a delight.
Day 5 :
Time to leave. We left Dharamshala by 4am because our flight was at 10 am from Amritsar. We were lucky enough to witness the North Indian foggy roads.We didn't want to leave Amritsar without tasting the WORLD FAMOUS "Amritsari Kulcha".
The worst feeling in the world is when a vacation, a beautiful one is about to end. I always end up leaving a piece of my heart at places that I fall in love with. For about a month after the vacation I am still stuck in reverse gear.Then the reality of life strikes me hard- Life moves on! Yes.We corporate slaves will continue working to fund our next trip, to make a few more memories, to live a little and to escape the monotony of the electronic devices and mechanical people.
Travel will always fuel my soul. The places, the people, the pictures, the colours and the culture, something to pick up from every new place.