Is it not the idea of a travelogue to write about what in your experience sets a certain place apart? Is it not about doing what Lonely Planet tells you and still managing to find that esoteric aspect to it?
Amritsar had been on the cards for me for a while now. The realization monstrously struck when my colleagues from the other countries visited Amritsar and I was left feeling a little abashed at not having explored this deeply historical city in India.
With the blistering sun overhead, the meteorological Gods definitely had something planned for this holiday, for you cannot take your car in the overtly crowded and bustling market streets of Amritsar which lead you to the Golden Temple. You say you have a VIP pass for the Wagah Border? Doesn’t change much. You still wait with thousands of Indians who have come all the way to witness the change of guards at the Indo-Pak border. Does the holiday tan or sweat and grime change the fact that Amritsar is a mystical experience? No. If anything, it grows manifold.
Amritsar is about the walk to the Golden Temple. The first sight of this absolutely magnificent piece of architecture. The manifestation of the faith of the Sikhs. And those like me who believe in a God, in isolation from the shapes and figures we give him/her. The gurbaani you hear live at the Golden Temple. Its rich unyielding reflection on the water body in between. The Wagah Border experience of yelling and cheering with a thousand other Indians tied to you by the thread of their nationality. The pride you feel when your guards walk to the gate. It is about watching your father get emotional at the Jallianwala Bagh and experiencing gooseflesh yourself when you see the thousands of bullet marks. It is about the ‘gallies’ and the bustling ‘dhabas’. The Amritsari naan and chole. It is about the markets selling all kinds of souvenirs and absolutely fabulous Punjabi jutis to tourists like me. Amritsar is about history and the warmth of the people.
|In the Indian avataar for Day 1 of the Amritsar Act. A mustard kurti with neon pink embroidery and floral collar.|
|The Golden Temple in all its glory.|
|The mystical reflection.|
|The parade at the Wagah Border|
|A good idea to saunter through all the juti stores in the market next the The Golden Temple.|
|The epic graffiti van.|
|The delectable Lahori naan and Amritsari chole|
Things to do, places to visit:
Food: Sarhad, hands down. For Indo-Pak cuisine. To look for: The graffiti van for fun pictures, outside seating and the food, of course.
Shop: Katra Jaimal Market. Bargain for the jutis. The Pakistani kinds are gorgeous but make sure you haggle to bring down the prices. Lets just say Rs. 1000 (INR) is not the right price.
See: The Golden Temple, The Wagah Border, Jallianwala Bagh
Till the next post,