A Peaceful Chaos - The city of Amritsar

3:31 PM

It's been more than 8 years since I promised myself to pay a visit to the city of Amritsar. I always dreamt of taking a solo trip to Amritsar, but this one turned out much better with a companion who made it all possible. And in all those years, the excuses or reasons that didn't let me go there were bygone. We took the trip #LikeABoss, like an Instagram quote i.e. "Just pack your bag and leave". We shook our head at 7 in the evening, packed our bags, hailed for a bus and next morning we were there.
Although, it wasn't an easy-made trip. We reached at ISBT Kashmere Gate bus station around 9pm only to find out that everything was booked already. We [two girls] sitting with our hopes held tight started thinking whether to go back and re-plan this again for a later date. It was so disappointing at the moment as like once again, I was failing to get to see the city. But the heart wants what it want. So we sat in silence for a little longer, took a deep breath and started assessing the alternatives. We checked different routes like via Chandigarh etc. but nothing worked out. Soon it was past 11 of a cold night of December.
Finally we decided to try out our luck at Old Delhi Railway station before we were headed back home. After checking a few bus service desks, we got our tickets and we couldn't believe.
We left the city in much excitement on a fun bus ride.
It was cold and it rained all night and we were in the bus having goosebumps. My excitement couldn't be explained hence I couldn't sleep the whole night.It was like one of those things in your life that you've always wanted and once you get it in an unexpected way; the happiness is sheer priceless.

We reached Amritsar around 6ish in the morning. We hailed a rikshaw and went straight to Golden Temple.

With that 1D trip, we covered> The Golden Temple (at morning) > Breakfast at Brother's Dhaba>  Jalianwala Bagh > Lunch at Kesar Da Dhaba> a little walk around Hathi gate> Vagha Border> The Golden Temple (at night).

We didn't book a hotel. We stayed at the Golden Temple Sarai (Guru Arjan Dev Nivas). And believe me, it was the wisest decision we made than booking a hotel. It's safe for girls, and that's important to know :) We inquired about the proceeding and they offered some delicious tea first with some snacks. Broiling in a huge kadhai at a distance, people all kind were enjoying their sips out of tea bowls that winter morning. We cleaned our cups ourselves (yes you must, especially when you see everyone there helping you with everything, that's the least you could do to help them back). Later, we got a token at the reception to stay in the Sarai. It's free of cost. We went up on the first floor, where women could stay. It's a shared place with lockers where you can keep you belongings locked till whenever. Common Washrooms, basins and toilets; separate for women and kids, and men. I couldn't help but wonder, this was the first time I saw a Sarai, that puts no cost at you, are so clean. People were so thoughtful that they made sure they left it clean after using even the kids weren't ignorant.
So if it's only travel you want and not comfortable beds and privacy, stay here without having a second thought. Spending the night could be cumbersome as there are halls, varandahs and passage & you'd get to sleep wherever you can find the place to.

The Golden Temple
With a lot of history and divinity, Shri Harmandir Sahib stands bright and modest amidst the pool of Nector. Taking a walk around the temple and finally visiting the main temple overwhelmed us with joy and pride. There's lot to add which I would cover in a different blog post.
Tip: If possible, do try visiting the place both in morning and evening and you'll be amused by its mesmerizing beauty. (About 150mts far from the sarai)

Jalianwala  Bagh
The misty wind embraced us the very moment we entered in the Jalianwala Bagh through the alley from where Dyer's troop entered & killed thousands of defenseless people almost a century back. Goosebumps. A memorial of national importance ever since the dreadful Amritsar Massacre occurred in 1919,  the Bagh also homes a museum that speaks of its history, the innocent martyrs and how the unfortunate event played an important role in India's struggle for freedom that should be enough to bring tears in your eyes and put your blood on boil. A well on the left, where people jumped in out of panic and 'the Wall' with the marks of gun shots still visible are there too echoing the deafening silence persisting since ages.

Walking around the City
You can still buy in an hour our of your 1D trip to walk around the city and explore, provided you're always on the go. Shop. Eat. Experience. Learn.

Wagha Border
About 30 kms from Amritsar and 20kms from Lahor is the border of Wagha. You can easily reach there via shared cabs available outside the JalianWala Bhagh. Make sure, you leave before 2pm anyhow cause you don't want to miss the Wagha Border ceremony scheduled everyday @4pm in winter and @4:30pm in summer). It would cost you around INR 100-200 per person (to and fro) and will take about 2 hours to take you there. It will leave you about 500-600 mts before the actual destination. From there you can take a rickshaw or walk your way through. The cab would wait for you at the same spot till you'd be back.
The ceremony takes place every evening, in which soldiers from India and Pakistan meet and greet each other and perform the usual ceremonial activities. When the gate finally opens, that moment is enough to send a chill under one's spine. (We Indians know how it feels, right?)
Do Not carry bags, heavy wallets, power banks or any such electronic devices. Only money, phones and cameras are allowed. There are two strict security checks. Suggest you inquire about it from different sources as well.

About a km away from the sarai, Brother's Dhaba or Bharawan da Dhaba situated next to each other, pick any cause you won't regret. The food is inexplicably delicious across the city. Food so good and rich, I confess that I had the best north Indian food ever in Amritsar. However, keep a hygiene check while eating out at the street.
Must visit- Kesar Da Dhaba. While usual options for main course are good to satiate your hunger with oodles of Desi Ghee, don't miss trying their Rice Phirni and a humongous glass of Lassi (which you may want to share it with 1-2 people :D). We two were crazy enough to order two glasses and we couldn't finish.
Near Bangla Sahib, on the temple road and opposite Jalianwala Bagh, you would also find street vendors selling Daal Pakoda dipped in Kanji. That was quite something to experiment with my taste buds and it wasn't bad, I must say. Do try.

There are many more places in and around the city which you just can't cover in just one day, but we did pretty well :) (from 6am-9pm)

Do note, Amritsar is a pretty, colorful city with cultural and traditional values like any other city in India. A city so humble that welcomes everyone with a warm heart. Hence a sincere request to every new person entering to the city to be mindful of their behavior and appearance to avoid unnecessary attention and make the most out of your trip.

That's all folks. I will soon be putting up my next posts on my walk to Mirza Ghalib's Haveli in Chandni Chowk, Delhi & one rejuvenation trip to Bangalore for the love of art & history.
Have a nice year ahead! 

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