Captivating Amritsar!!

4th Dec 2016

A small town full of hustle bustle of people, honking autos, shouting vendors to sell their daily items ,narrow lanes ,ample eateries ,dhaba’s & the best part ..All is so well connected..To go anywhere is just between 3-5 kms from the heart of city, enjoy either walking or cheaply fared sharing autos!

Well, this winter got me ready to eulogize the exquisiteness this small town entails in itself in the form of the most scintillating “Golden temple”,a temple not just to join hands & pray ,but a place which gives the feeling of uniqueness in itself , exclusivity to bring together so many people under one roof ,sense of “Seva” towards human race & an utmost ecstasy to begin with!

Bags packed & we booked Delhi –Amritsar Shatabdi which usually takes close to 7 hours, but we are specially blessed with some or the other during our “Planned Travel’s”& this time when the day was declared on of the most foggy this winter;) ,we got late by close to 2 it was all breakfast ,sleep ,lunch & again afternoon sleep when finally the brakes were applied at 4pm ,signalling the arrival of AmritsarJ

Sun seemed like an orange ball hanging forcefully in the cloudy sky, trying hard to come out of the shelter & rise high to shine back but all in vainJ .A gust of wind trashed against my face notifying me of the bony chill in the coming hours????

Thanks to the Hotel (Golden Tulip) Management to send a Car to receive us & in next 15 minutes we were there at Reception lobby .Quickly opting to take the keys & rushing towards a perfect room with the right temperature (making me forget of the winds blowing outside) which forced us to relax for some 15-20 minutes & yes gave my kid a chance to jump on full swing on the beds;)

Holidays are so revitalizing…so refreshing…& yes unwinding …my Soul just peps up :)

So the research gave a jolt to us, when cutting on relaxation we quickly ventured out to rush to Jallianwala Bagh to see the light & sound show of the massacre ,but to our astonishment ,the guards told that this show did not exist now ,was closedL ..Huh..Complete planning in the train to see this show (was even recommended by co-passengers on nearby seats) went in vain!

Nonetheless ,Night had fallen by 6:30 & looking ahead on the straight road we could certainly see shining white & orange lights & yes in next moments we were running towards it with broad smile to capture the beauty in the night! Well that was the start of Golden temple ,even at that time ,”Sevaks” were cleaning the roads leading to the temple ,kids selling balloons & toys on one sides ,buzzing Punjabi Jutti shops on both sides , Kulcha wala’s ..Well it all seemed so glistening but controlling our senses we walked straight to the humongous temple premises, completely white from outside, so many devotees, long lines starting from the entrance of the premises longing us all the more in mere admiration. Covering our heads ,we headed down the stairs post cleaning our legs in a small marble captive of water …The last stair made me stood still with a wish to click & capture this scintillating place not just in my DSLR but in my eyes forever..Just WOW (wonder of the world) , ushering so much optimism out of the shiny temple & its reflection in the water ..I guess fishes in the water would also have camouflaged orange golden in the praise of Golden Temple!

It was chilling & walking bare foot in the premises was all the more shaking me..but as soon as we entered inside the main temple premises ,the feeling automatically moved into a religious tone..Some singing, some citing the Grantha’s, some clapping & yes some even sitting beside in the chilly cold meditating their religion..Simply amazed to see all this & yes the lovely carvings in Gold & Precious stones in the main Darbar sahib made the environment so pure & artistic! I just wanted to confine every edge into my camera forever! Also known as Harmadir Sahib, this is one of the holiest Gurudwara founded by 4th Sikh Guru(Guru Ram Das) .The Holy book Guru Gantha Sahib is inside the Gurudwara & every night it is taken with pomp & show for “Sukhasan”

Photo of Captivating Amritsar!! 1/5 by jhilmil
Photo of Captivating Amritsar!! 2/5 by jhilmil

Spending close to an hour ,tasting of the delicious prasada (Halwa) ensured hunger pangs in us with tongue & stomach beginning to torture us ,when we decided to hang up at “Kesar Da Dhaba” (specifically recommended by one our friends). Speedily catching a cycle rickshaw, we started into narrow lanes, left right..Completely unaware of the roads but in next 20 odd minutes, we landed at this Dhaba. Actually a place which gives you a feel of Dhaba , so many people ,multiple groups occupying same table with huge steel thali’s & katori’s full of tongue teasing veggies ..Panner ,kadhi pakora ,Rajma ,daal takda ,malai Kofta ,Butterly kulcha’s ,mixed naan’s wow..It felt, Yaar mazza aa gaya:)

Trying to figure out a space was very difficult, & we could get one in sharing only after some 10 more minutes..Quickly ordering & without wasting the time, we relished the dhaba feel & good food. Yes it was cold, still we tried at Lassi, which people say is special of Amritsar! Thoroughly filled up to mouth, we finally decided to walk back hotel which was just 3Kms from there..Enjoying the silent roads at 9pm (which seems to be start @Delhi during weekends) ,chatting in 30 minutes we knocked at our room ..& it was not looking back..We 3 were already in blankets & planning for next round of food in room..This twisty walk in the cold had actually made us feel hungry again..Foodies can’t control & only post pouncing on a super delicious baked Pasta, did we had a tight sleep.

Tales of nature are so diverse …Bright sunny rays peeping through the window curtains with the chirping of birds got me full of smile & provoking me out of the comfort zoneJ ..Hush hush, a lovely spread of breakfast was awaiting..From Chola Kulcha’s to hot sambhar bada, Idli ,Uttappam ,to Poha , Porridge ,Bread Toasts with hot milk ..Wow..Amazing..What? ..I meant I have an amazing appetite & palate ;)With a wonderful morning ,it was a perfect plan to visit “Attari Border” aka Wagah Border .So here we cracked the luck by getting VIP passes ,so no long walking on the tracks ,no crowd & the best part ,a very close March post by the Jawans ,which mattered the most!

From City’s heart to Wagah it usually takes 45-50 minutes & we collecting our VIP passes from Gate2 took close to an hour .Getting our faces painted , patriotism in full swing ,we quickly cleared multiple security checks .Since we had VIP passes (had to show the ID ,Name & VIP pass no. To some 3-4 security jawan’s before getting ourselves into the 1st security check),so post 1st check (of us as well as Car) we then sat in our Car & finally went off at the VIP parking (just opposite Indo-Pak Trade border) . For general people without passes, it needs to be close to 1-1.5Kms walk till the parking ground, post which there again is a security check. Just a note to remember ,No bags can be taken inside post the parking area ,in case you wish to carry anything ,(Baby food in our case) ,it all needs to be held in hand since no poly/bags are allowed ,so keep yourself free as much possible & carry just water /utmost requisites.

Walk along the passage to reach the VIP gallery took us via Emergency landing preparations, huge statue of Jinnah, Indian & Pakistani Flags held high..It was altogether a different feeling (cannot be expressed) to see a human made wall separating the two countries…On one side were our Border Security Force’s Jawans holding security of the gate & on the other side Pakistani Ranger Pathans tightening their security (First chance of my life to view all this so closely)..I couldn’t resist myself from capturing n no. Of shots..One side Indians hooting & other side Pakistani nationals shouting.. Bharat Mata ki Jai…Pakistan Zindabad..Bharat Mata ki Jai…What an amazing thunderous sounds emanating from both sides; it seemed so much of patriotism & gave a wonderful sense of being an Indian! The ground was huge & the program began with kids giving some lovely performances on various national songs, which was followed by an incredible March post by the BSF jawans on Indian side & by Pakistan Rangers on Pakistan’s side followed with lowering of flags of both Indo –Pak, what a confluence it made of the 2 countriesJ. Whole ceremony took around 1hour & post that with Gates & Jawans around ,it made a perfect selfie time for us ,crazy mob rushing for clicks with jawan’s & we also found a Black Cat commando to get a clickJ ,feels so honoured to stand side by side, isn’t it? After all they have fought for us, made us feel safe & secure even on the risk of their lives.

Photo of Captivating Amritsar!! 3/5 by jhilmil
Peek-a-boo of the sights visible!

Well, sun was setting, ceremony had ended & this day was Flag marked in our lives! So naive, so distinct, full of emotions towards Mother India ! We rushed back to hotel for a short break only to find ourselves landing @Kulcha Land (one of the most famous Kulcha’s @Amritsar) ..Important Note: this shop usually closes between 4-5pm, hence pls do not approach post that..This is what happened to us & we landed @Trillion Mall ,one of the enormous, newly constructed mall of Amritsar (although it has ample empty shops ,you can book one J) ,having mix of snacks @ the food hub ,we booked ourselves tickets for Airlift (Guys that made a perfect day devoted towards India).

The next day was the last for us ,while Shatabdi @4pm waited for us ON TIME ,we could catch up with visiting the Jallianwala Bagh ,Shrine once again to have a look at the Golden temple in full sunlight & taste the Langar (in form of God’s Blessing) ,which ensure none goes hungry from there !God ,Langar was on massive level ,so many people sitting to cut veggies ,collect & wash the plates ,rest assuring cooking inside much harmony & humanity could be seen , This place is worth million thoughts towards some good deeds direct from heart!

Photo of Captivating Amritsar!! 4/5 by jhilmil

A little on Jallianwala Bagh ,which has a deep painful history in the books of India ,a sad day when close to 15-20k people had gathered in& around the bagh & the then General Dyer ordered a shoot out on the innocent people citing their disobedience towards the Ban already imposed in the city. History says that he along with his troops fired close to 1650 rounds (& it ended when ammunitions supply went zero) & close to 1000 odd people lost their lives (As per Indian National Congress) ,few jumped in the well ,few were crushed under feet of others ..It was one of the most dreaded massacre in the history of India & this Bagh is now a memorial to commemorate the massacre of the peaceful unarmed people gathered on that fateful day.

It showcases a memorial, bullet marks on the walls in the park ,marks the point from where people were fired 1650 round of fire upon ,houses a small room with the newspaper cuttings ,books all capturing the historical importance of this event . This place does enrage anger on the British commanders for sacrificing the precious life of Innocent Indians.

Photo of Captivating Amritsar!! 5/5 by jhilmil

Grabbing some Punjabi Jutti’s, very next moment we could hear whistles were drumming in our ears ,time had come to bid Goodbye to this charming city & welcome the arrival of Delhi..

1.Delhi –Amritsar Distance: 452 Kms (448 Kms by Train)

2.Best ways to Travel : Shatabdi ,usually takes 6:30-7hrs (giving you Breakfast during morning on the way to Amritsar & Brunch ,Dinner in evenings while returning back to Delhi)

3.Major Places of Interest : Golden temple (Harmadir Sahib) ,Jallianwala Bagh ,agah Border Ceremony ,Durgiana Temple, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum (Last 2 if time persists)

4.For Foodies: The Kulcha Land, Dhaba’s close to Golden Temple ,Kesar da Dhaba , Brothers Dhaba

5.City travel: Sharing auto’s easily available, Ola, standalone auto’s also available (although there is no metre system, hence better opt for Ola Cabs)

Imp Points:

1.If travelling during peak Winter ,it may get foggy anytime ,hence get sure of previous day’s Train schedule & pack some extra food (although you will get Kulcha’s on every station in Punjab)

2.There is a huge bargaining while buying jutti’s from the shops close to the shrine don’t believe on the “Fixed rate stamps” & bargain loud enough.

3.The Kulcha Land remains open only during day time ,do not plan in evenings

4.Do try to arrange for Wagah border ceremony VIP Passes

5.Cars should be booked a day in advance for Wagah border(as Car no. Needs to be given beforehand in case VIP passes are being arranged) .Cars can be booked from agents outside Golden temple easily.

6.Carry only handy items during visit to Attari border

Happy Travelling!!