Are you a food lover? Are you devotional? Do you love history? Then, Amritsar is your destination... Go for it.
Ah! Finally I could get some fresh air, as I stepped out of bus. I could see all people full of zest covered in different colored traditional clothes showing true culture of India.
As we had not booked any hotel to stay in Amritsar, we searched online for hotels nearby Railway station(as we had to go Delhi from Amritsar after 2 days by train) by which we got an idea about the prices and availability of hotels. We booked a cab from bus stand using online cab service(Uber/Ola) and asked him to drop us at railway station. The cab driver, being a Punjabi, was very chatty and hence provided us a lot of information about good and affordable hotels. We selected one of those hotels named “Hotel Dee Sons” and fortunately it was at a walking distance from Railway station.We reached there at 10 am. It was available at very affordable price and hotel facilities were very good. Hotel Manager also suggested us about the tourist places (known/unknown) and places to shop for Amritsar’s famous Punjabi clothes and footwears known as “Juti”. He also suggested us to first visit Wagah Border and reach there as early as possible to get seats, from where the ceremony would be clearly visible. Oh I totally forgot to mention what ceremony I am talking about.
About Ceremony at Wagah Border (The first India-Pakistan Border):
It is well known by the name “Lowering of flags” ceremony wherein security forces of India and Pakistan show the symbol of rivalry and brotherhood simultaneously.The ceremony takes place daily before sunset.Hm! You must be curious to know more about the ceremony ha-ha but as they say “Patience is the key to paradise”. Let’s hear it through my experience in detail.
As the hotel manager said, “if we wanted to visit Wagah (India-Pakistan Border) border, we need to take a cab at 1 pm”. He also provided us the cab in a better offer than other cab services.
Day 1 @Wagah Border, Amritsar:
Things to keep in mind:
- No phone signals work over there, keep cab number and place of parking in mind.
- No baggage and things allowed to take inside except man’s wallet.
- Always keep an eye on your phone and wallet as pick-pocketing is quite common at Wagah border.
- As soon as the ceremony ends, leave the place at the earliest.
The crowd is in thousands and hence creates a lot of traffic Jam.
Our cab picked us up at 1:15 pm from the hotel. The driver was really a nice person, in fact, all the people seemed pretty helpful in Amritsar. He told us about all the famous places of Amritsar like Khalsa College (where various Bollywood movies such as “Gadar” was shooted), Asia’s biggest sword, actual India gate and showed us a special direction board. Ooh!!It actually had the city name of a different country Lahore just 20kms away.
Reminded about heartbreaking story of the separation of India and Pakistan:
Strangely and sadly, this place made all those stories alive (to some extent) which my grandmother told about, all those news coming one or the other time how the terror is still alive between India and Pakistan.It was the first time when I could feel to some level how Radcliffe line effected a peacefully united nation and converted it into two separate countries India and Pakistan leading to the death of over millions of people and many people became homeless due to separation and fights of Hindu and Muslim. I hope these fights will come to an end one day.
Anyways coming back to present…
We reached there in around 30 minutes. The driver showed us parking point carefully where we need to return back immediately after the ceremony.
There were two huge queues at the entrance of Wagah border one was for men and one for women for security check. Finally, after security check and a walk of around 1 km, we reached the entrance of open auditorium where the ceremony is conducted every day. It is actually a daily military practice done by Indian and Pakistani security forces before sunset. If you have not visited this place, you must visit it once.
As we reached early and all places just started to fill up, we quickly occupied the one which provides proper visibility of ceremony of both sides India and Pakistan. The first legal border ( the second one is from Kashmir) of India and Pakistan was clearly visible with separate shiny black gates on both ends with respective country’s flag hoisting on the gates. The spectacle of the ceremony provoked my patriotism to a level that I shed tears when I realized how much those soldiers do to protect our nation. The air itself around Wagah border was giving patriotic vibes. Patriotic songs played one after another were the cherry on top, filling people with excitement and enthusiasm.
I was amazed to see that apart from Indians and Pakistanis, there were many foreigners who came to attend the ceremony. They were all dressed in colorful traditional Indian outfits. Some were sitting on India’s side and some on another side. India had a huge strength of appraisers and viewers. The crowd at India’s end was more than hundred times that of Pakistan. One of the reason could be, the entrance was free of cost in India while in Pakistan, it was chargeable. And the main reason was Indian culture and enormous population.
There were soldiers from different battalion at both the ends. The Pakistan rangers were dressed in gray salwar kameez and the Indian Border Security Force were dressed in khaki uniform. Actually, the ceremony is the symbol of pride and anger between two countries. The soldiers are specially trained to reflect the true meaning of the ceremony.The extreme anger could be seen merely in soldiers’ aggressive gestures and high leg kicks. And at the very next moment, they saluted each other showing the pride. After that, the ceremony ended at 5:30 pm by lowering and folding of the national flags and shutting the metal gates quickly with immense power.
After struggling a lot to find our car in the parking and waiting for all four of us to arrive, the cab dropped us at OCM which is a factory outlet for buying Amritsari clothes like phulkari, stoles, kurta, jackets etc. Although the shopping complex is well maintained and has a variety of clothes but the prices were high. So we preferred only buying stoles from there. But the parachute jackets were quite affordable and good in quality.
Day 1 @Kesar da dhabha:
After that, we went to have dinner at famous Dhabha of Amritsar “Kesar da dhabha“. It was a small dhaba situated in narrow streets of Shashtri market near the town hall, with not many options in food but the food was cooked completely in Desi Ghee and taste was total bliss.After having a huge glass of luscious Lassi and huge Aloo Parantha, we thought of going for some distance by walk. As we came out of the street, I thought of going somewhere and then saw the sign board for famous Durgiana temple. Ah! Everyone was enervated except me. I wanted to utilize the whole time to explore as much as I could.I quickly tapped my fingers on google map and checked the distance, it was only 1 km and it was very close to our hotel. Yoo-hoo! Finally, after insisting a lot I convinced them and we left for the temple.
Ah! I forgot to mention that It was perfect decision to stay near the railway station, as every tourist Place and temples were nearby.As we reached inside the temple, it was beautiful. It is a Hindu temple but it is built in a style of Sikh temple(Guru Dwara) with tombs polished with gold and a pond beside it. We also came to know that it was built before Golden Temple. The idea behind Golden temple’s construction was originated from Durgiana temple. After worshipping(doing aarti), I went near the pond and relaxed for a while. And then we went back to our hotel.
Day 2 @Modeltown Mandir:
The second day, we got up early morning as we had to cover many things and this was the last day left in Amritsar. We went to Model Town temple which is a replica of famous pilgrim of Hindus “Vaishno Devi”. The architecture of the temple is mesmerizing, we covered it in 1 hour. If you are in Amritsar and you have spare time then you can visit the place. Even if you skip this part, it won’t be much loss.From there, we took an auto for JallianwalaBagh.
Day 2 @JalianWalaBagh, Amritsar:
It is a memorial of the JallianWaalaBagh Massacre happened on 13, April 1919 where people were assembled to make pleading with authorities to take back the Rowlatt Act. It is a public garden located in the vicinity of famous Golden Temple complex.
As we reached the entrance, we saw Jallian Wala Bagh written on the beautiful brick wall on the left side.
I being less interested in history during school time was unaware of the history in detail. I did not know the exact story of Jallian Wala Bagh. I knew that the people were gathered in 1919 for pleading to take back Rowlatt Act and they were all shot down by a cruel British but I thought it was Hitler who did it. I was very curious to know about the place and hence asked Paresh, “Why did Hitler do it?” and surprisingly he started laughing at me and replied, “Haven’t you ever read history?” I was like, “Argh! What did I say wrong now?” Then he started telling me about the whole history, “It was General Dyer who killed all those innocent people (approx. 1500 in numbers) by bringing 90 soldiers with him.
”As we moved ahead there was a narrow old lane. I felt strange and scared thinking about the incident which occurred at this place and how those innocent peace-protesters died.
At the end of lane I saw the point from where guns firing started by soldiers on innocent freedom fighters of our country who wanted nothing but peace.
As there was only one entrance which was open, People could not escape and hence some jumped into the well over there and died, which is why it's known as “Martyrs Well”.
Around 120 dead bodies were found in the well later.The bullet marks can still be seen on the boundaries of the well.
We spent around an hour inside JallianWala Bagh talking about how the incident could have happened.
While I was walking in the garden, I noticed a foreigner couple writing something. It struck me suddenly that it would provide the perfect ambiance to jot down thoughts at a place which encourages us to think about our own Independence. I went there and asked the couple,” Hey Guys! My name is Anisha. Sorry to disturb you but I am really curious to know what you guys are writing about?”
The girl was skinny with pink complex and was wearing a grayish tank-top and cream-colored pant. On the other hand, the guy was healthy with fair complex, he looked handsome in a black t-shirt and denim pants. The girl replied to my greet, ”Hi Anisha! My name is Lauren and I write about the countries I visit”. I also shared about my blog “Crave To Explore” with them and we had a chit chat for around 5 minutes and finally, we said Goodbyes.
As we came to another end, there was a memorial placed with an enlightening lamp in honor of freedom fighters who sacrificed their life for our country and it is known as “Amar Jyoti”( the light that never extinguishes).
Day 2 @ Amritsar Market:
As we came out of Jallian Wala Bagh, the shops on Golden temple complex looked so colorful.
I being a shopaholic could not refrain myself and went inside to shop phulkari. They were all beautiful and hand made but prices were way too high. Paresh and Anand told me to come out and then we went to the local market of Amritsar “Katra Jaimal Singh Market” (Some of Anand and Paresh’s local friends mentioned about it) which was only 500 meters from Golden Temple complex.
The sunlight was too warm but nothing could stop me from exploring a new town and that too the most traditional place Amritsar. I put on my blue-colored goggle which I actually bought to go on snow in Manali and wore a scarf to protect myself from heat. I asked, He-he! or more appropriately ordered with a cunning smile, my friends to put on their goggle too. We reached in hardly 15 minutes going through the narrow lanes following google map(our one and only directioner).
The market was crowded and there were lots of shops of phulkari everywhere. It was a typical Indian market where only shopaholics like me can survive but it was totally worth it. The prices were less, no doubt we had to bargain a lot for that. We bought many phulkari for our friends and family from different shops. Each phulkari cost us around 250-300 after bargaining a lot.
We spent around 3 hours in the market and then we went to have lunch at famous Bade Bhai ka Brothers Dhaba which was in vicinity of Golden Temple complex. We ordered Kulche, Dal fry, Makke di roti and Sarson da saag with Sweet Lassi. Everything was mouth-watering, it looked delicious and tasted like heaven in the mouth. Everything made from pure ghee.
In two days I ate so much in Amritsar that I am definitely going to gain some fat. Haa-Haa! but when it comes to luscious food , who cares about the fat and a thought struck my mind, I do not remember who said that but Punjabi Food is a luxury on tour. And, so it was.
Day 2 @Golden Temple:
We spent some time in a market near the golden temple. In the evening, the place was glittering with different shades of light and tourists all over.Golden Temple is the holiest Gurudwara, for the Sikhs, also known as “Harminder Sahib Gurudwara”. The gold plated tomb is surrounded by a beautiful pond and sparkling marble floor.We quickly kept our footwear in the footwear stand and moved ahead. The temple looked mesmerizing with its golden shine and a pinch of blue and white light of the moon.
There was a square walkway of marble through the pond which took us inside the temple. The temple was very crowded due to the weekend. We had to wait for around half an hour in the queue to get inside the temple but it was totally worth to see the glory of the beautiful temple and sacred pond around it. Camera and photography are strictly not allowed inside the temple. So we kept it for the later part.
Although the temple was covered with walls from all sides, we could feel the cool breeze passing by. Once we did all the prayers and received the prasad (Halwa enriched with Ghee), we came out and clicked pictures of the beautiful Golden temple along with the holy pond. We spent around 2 hours near the pond and then headed back for Railway station. We caught our train at 11:50 pm for Delhi and this is how our trip finally came to an end which we will cherish forever. Let's see where our destiny takes us next. Moreover, I always believe:
"Once a year, go someplace you have never been before"
For short itinerary, please click here.
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Till then… Keep Exploring 🙂