Monday, 26 December 2016

Amritsar – A Day of Spirituality, Patriotism & Food

Amritsar, a city in Punjab which is famous for Golden Temple, Wagah Border, Jalliawala Bagh and finger licking food. And this is exactly what we did in our one day stay in Amritsar.

The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple

Golden Temple – Tranquility & Spirituality at its peak

The most famous and the most mesmerizing place in the whole of Amritsar has to be undoubtedly The Golden Temple whose actual name is Harmandir Sahib.

The temple gets the name ‘Golden’ because of the golden dome on the main temple. The temple is open to people of all faith. One can enter the compound of the temple from different directions but there is one entrance to reach the main sacred place - Harmandir Temple. The temple is located in the middle of the sacred pool and is mesmerizing.

Entrance of the Golden Temple
Entrance of the Golden Temple
Every day thousands of pilgrims visit The Golden Temple some for a day visit and some stay longer and volunteer in the Temple. The Temple also provides shelter to people without homes, with a place to sleep and a warm blanket during the chilly nights.

I recommend that you visit the temple at least twice – One in day time to feel the vibe of the place and enjoy the beautiful splendor and later at night to view the sheer brilliance of the temple’s beauty. At night, The Temple lits up in dark and leaves you starring with its golden beauty.

Sight on way to Golden Temple
Sight on way to Golden Temple

Right in front of Jallianwala bagh
Always keep your head covered within the complex. You can use a shawl, scarf or handkerchief. There are numerous head covers provided for free at the entrance of the temple.

Do not carry back packs – you have to deposit them in the cloak room (for free). Cameras and ladies hand bags are allowed. You can click pictures in the complex but not in the main temple.

You need to wash your hands and feet before entering the temple complex.

At each corner of the complex, water is served by the volunteers. You must try out the Langar here – the food is provided free of cost and will have chapatti, one vegetable, dal, and sweet.

Most of the work in the temple like managing cloak room, shoe room, kitchen, cooking, cleaning the utensils, cutting vegetables, serving food, providing water etc are done by volunteers and with a big and pleasant smile on their face. This volunteering in their word is called ‘Seva’.

The Golden Temple should be an inspiration to all the other religious places in the world. This is one place where there is total discipline, total neatness. You will not find any chaos anywhere in the complex and all the things run smoothly.

First sight of The Golden Temple
First sight of The Golden Temple
Since it was winters, the water where you wash your hands and the shallow where you wash your legs was warm. They think of such nitty gritty details to make one’s visit comfortable. Hats off to the volunteers at The Golden Temple.

Not to forget the Khada Prasad that you get after the visit to the Harmandir Sahib is simply out of the world.

Jallianwala Bagh

Jallainwala Bagh is located very close to the Golden temple and there is no entry fee. It is just what it is supposed to be – a park – a garden.

But it’s the history; it’s the event that happened here so many decades ago that does not make this park just a simple park.

Jallianwala Bagh Entrance
Jallianwala Bagh Entrance
A walk in the Jallianwala Bagh will surely remind you of the stories you read in your History Class.

As I entered this place I was shocked to see the place brimming with people. It looked like a picnic spot with kids playing cricket and Frisbee. There were others that were catching on their afternoon nap.

Inside Jallianwala Bagh
Inside Jallianwala Bagh
About a short distance from the entrance is the ‘Flame of Peace’. There is a museum at the exit that depicts the horrific story of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. 

You can see the well in which so many unarmed Indians (women & children amongst them) jumped to escape from the merciless firing by the English army. The walls where they were mercilessly shot, butchered and annihilated. The bullet marks have been chalked out on these walls.

Bullet Marks at Jallianwala Bagh
Bullet Marks at Jallianwala Bagh

Martyrs' Well at Jallianwala Bagh
Martyrs' Well at Jallianwala Bagh
This is one place which is very crucial in Indian History but the way it manhandled gives you creeps.

Wagah Border

Around 45 minutes’ drive from Amritsar is the India – Pakistan Border where every evening a special border closing ceremony is conducted. We took a private tuk tuk for Rs 800 to reach the border.

Enroute Wageh Border in a tuk tuk
The ceremony starts at 5:00 pm in winters but it is recommended to go atleast two hours before the ceremony starts – first to get better seats and secondly to clear the security check. Please carry only the essential items as they will not let you to carry anything else to the border area. Locker facility is available in the parking area. Cameras are allowed.

Before the ceremony the Indian women (from the spectators) are asked to run on the road with the Indian Flag followed by them dancing.

Wagah Border Ceremony
The Ceremony Starts

Crowd at Wagah Border
Crowd at Wagah Border
The main show starts after this. The officers of both the countries – India & Pakistan – dressed in their respective uniform starts by shouting some commands. They start marching towards the border gate like gymnasts and throwing their legs up till their head.

After lot of marching and shouting commands the flags of both the country are lowered simultaneously. During the ceremony the border gate is opened for few minutes and then closed after shaking hands with the commander of the other country.

Soldiers of India & Pakistan
Soldiers of India & Pakistan

Lowering of the Flag
Lowering of the Flag
The entire ceremony does not take more than half an hour.

Throughout the time the spectators are shouting slogans with respect to the motherland. You could see lot of Indian Flags amidst the crowd and hear slogans and clapping on numerous occasions.

On the Indian side of the border, construction is on – they are making the stadium wider and in some time more spectators can come and witness the ceremony in its full glory.

Food

This city is the apt place for foodies; from Amritsari Kulcha, to aloo chole puri, to sarson da saag and makki di roti to Lassis to Jalebis… you can spend breakfast to dinner relishing delicacy after delicacy, one better than the other. There are numerous places where you can go and eat and it’s very difficult to decide which is your favorite. But if you are looking for some recommendations – try Kesar da Dhaba, Kanha Sweets, Langar at Golden Temple.

Breakfast at Kanha Sweets
Breakfast at Kanha Sweets
It is the Golden Temple for which I will come back to the city. And the finger licking food … and the patriotic feeling you get at the Wagah Border…

Seems I am coming back to the city again.. for just about everything.