Day 2 at Amritsar was reserved completely for a visit to Harmandir Sahab, the Golden temple.
Temple timings: Always Open. Best time to visit the temple would be during the early morning procession when the Guru Granth (Sikh holy Scriptures) is brought in from its resting place in Akal Takth to the temple or the late evening procession when the Granth is taken back to its resting place.
Temple dress code: Within the temple premises, head should be covered with a cloth at all times.
Our hotel was right behind the Golden temple so after a refreshing morning tea, we walked to the temple through its back gate. We had witnessed the magnificence of the temple in night lights the previous day, but in sunlight, the temple shines even more. On entering the temple gates,I felt a strong positive energy around me.
The main temple is situated in the middle of a holy pool and to reach there, we had to circumambulate the pool and join a queue to enter inside. It took us roughly 2 hours in the queue to go inside the temple. These 2 hours we experienced the devotion of Sikhs towards their Guru. People were so selfless and helping everybody in the queue. They were distributing water to people in the queue after every 5-10 minutes. The glasses in which water was served was also washed after every use. Around 1 lakh people visit the temple everyday and such services are provided round the clock. Some people were constantly cleaning the queue area with their bare hands to keep the premises clean. Even small children participated in such services. While waiting in the queue, one of the security personnel kept us engaged with the chants of Wahe Guru. His face looked so cheerful and peaceful while chanting, it fills the listener with postivity. I can go back again just to listen to him chant Wahe Guru.
The temple is of 2 floors and the Guru Granth is placed on the 1st floor. Inspite of so much crowd, no body hurries or pushes the devotees while inside the temple. Every devotee can spend as much time required praying to the Guru. Describing this place is very difficult, one has to visit it to actually experience it.
A khada prasad made of pure ghee is distributed to all devotees at exit gate of the temple and it is the yummiest prasad I have ever had.
Our next stop was to visit the 24 hour mega kitchen serving food to lakhs of devotees each day. A huge hall serves food to the devotees in batches. The menu consisted of roti, rice, daal makhani, daal tadka and a dessert. Undoubtedly, the food was very delicious.
At the Langar exit gate, service lines were setup to wash the used plates and bowls. The place was full of volunteers and even we wished to participate in this service. So we joined the service line of transferring washed plates to the next counter where the plates were dried with a cloth. Not a big help, but every hand counts when food is being served on such a massive scale.
Amritsar to Dalhousie
We checked out from our hotel and started for Dalhousie around 1 pm. A new driver was assigned to us for the rest for the trip and we wanted a good driver as we had to spend almost 8 days with him. On our first interaction with him, he refused to pick us from our hotel and insisted that we come out of the city near the parking area. We were taken aback by this attitude since we had lots of luggage and inspite of requesting so much, he was adamant. We did not want to start on a wrong note and so decided to go the parking area in an Auto rickshaw. The auto driver informed us that it gets very crowded inside the city at that hour and owing to the narrow streets, it was actually a good decision to not get the car inside the city. This gave us a little relief that the cab driver was not being unreasonable!!!!
After meeting the cab driver, we started from Amritsar to Dalhousie via Pathankhot. The driver was a very young fellow but drove very good. We reached Dalhousie in around 4 hours with one brief stop in between.
Stay at Dalhousie
Our hotel, Nathi hills guesthouse was before the Dalhousie city centre in a place called Banikhet. I had booked this hotel on AirBnB and the rooms turned out to be exactly the same as shown in the pictures. The rooms were newly built, clean, good and spacious, with all amenities like hot water, toiletries, etc. The view from the rooms was also not bad. We got these room for around Rs.1300 per room/night which was a good deal. After exploring Dalhousie, we realised there are many new and better hotels in the area which are not yet on any online booking site.
Weather in Dalhousie
This year, it was the coldest April ever in Dalhousie. A welcoming change for us after the harsh heat of Amritsar!!!!The temperature dropped drastically in the evening with the lowest being 5 degree celsius.
Subhash Chowk, Dalhousie
After resting for a bit, we started out to explore Subhash Chowk, the local market at Dalhousie. It a narrow lane lined up with stalls of woollen wear and Tibetan handicrafts. Everything here seemed a little expensive and comes with No Bargain tag !!!!!
There are many small stalls serving maggi, momos and finger foods. There are many restaurant options as well. After reading the online reviews, we went to a restaurant called Friend's Sher-e- Punjab restuarant. We ordered soups and starters to begin with and were highy disappointed with it. Except for French fries, we did not like anything else!!! We stopped ordering here and went out to another restaurant at the start of Subhash chowk called Dosa Plaza. The food was better here, though service was late. After the dinner, we returned to our hotel and called it a day!!!!!!
Highlight of day 2 was definitely the visit to Golden temple!!!!! This place should be on everybody's bucket list!!!!!!!!!!
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Stay tuned for the sequel to this blog- Day 3 of the trip (Khajjiar, Daikund peak and Panchpula)
Prequel to this blog: Day 1: Amazing Amritsar