Amritsar – Spiritual capital of Punjab
After a long time again gone on tour of Amritsar. I planned to take out my family also this time as they continuously complain that I leave them and visit places. So I thought lets do family outing also with official tour.
Amritsar is cultural and spiritual centre of sikh religion. This is very old city and original name was Ambarsar. The city is having narrow roads, too much of traffic. At this time lots of infrastructural work is in progress, which is adding chaos to the traffic system.
To travel in the city it will be great if you go on rickshaw. These narrow roads are full with cars, rickshaw, carts, and bicycles. If you want to travel in car then take care, anytime your car can get scratches.
There are many gates made to enter inside the old city such as Lahori gate, Bhagtan wala gate etc.
Places to visit in Amritsar
There are many places to visit in Amritsar. We planned to visit for Wagha Border, Durgiyana Temple, Golden Temple and Jaliawalan Bagh. Started from Ludhiana and reached Amritsar in next 3 hours. Some interviews were scheduled in amritsar office, so I started interviews and requested my Amritsar editor to arrange our entry in VIP row at Wagha Border. List for VIP entry closes at 12 noon and we called at 1.30 pm. We were late but still the brigadier said he will arrange to add name in the list.
Wagha Border, Attari
Wagha border is approx 30 kms from Amritsar. In the way from amrtisar to wagha you will see milestones mentioning Lahore, 30 kms. This is border of India and Pakistan where military of both countries do retreat ceremony daily. In retreat they open the gate of both countries and take off the flags. It starts at 5.30 pm in summers and at 5.00 pm in winters.
From wagha trucks of vegetables, grains go to Pakistan and same comes to our side. Trucks of both countries get unloaded at this place, checked and then reloaded in the trucks of other country. Trucks don’t cross the border. Volvo bus service between India – Pakistan also goes through this route. Wagha is placed near Attari village from where train to Pakistan Samjhauta Express departs. Both countries are having their customs setup at border.
We reached Wagha at 5 pm but there was so much rush that it took 15 minutes to reach gate which was 500 meters. There I came to know that my name was not mentioned in VIP list. With a bad mood I parked my vehicle outside and called the brigadier. Usually you don’t get mobile networks there but fortunately I got connected to him. He immediately flashed message on wireless to allow me in VIP area, but didn’t allowed getting my car inside. Anyway we started walking inside; there are 2 security checks in the way. If you are going there, remember not to carry any bag or lighters, cigarettes etc, these things are not allowed. If you are carrying camera then leave its carry case in your vehicle, only camera is allowed inside.
We were bit late so got the front row, which was good in terms of visibility. In next 5 mins retreat ceremony started. It was fantastic. It’s always fascinating to see these tall force people.
As they started their parade, people started shouting Hindustan Jindabad. It awaked the paki’s and they also started shouting Pakistan Jindabad & Jiyo Jiyo Pakistan. It was quite exciting watching that. This place shakes your patriotic emotions in such a way that you will not understand when you also started shouting “Hindustan Jindabad” alongwith people.
This retreat was full of drama from both sides. It seems that these defense guys of India and Pakistan did practice together. They were doing same kind of actions at the same time. Finally the gate was open and we were able to see the Pakistani people clearly. I was wondering what is the difference between us? They were looking same by colour, body structure and upto some extent in dressing also. If they will come this side or we will go to that side, nobody can recognize by having a look on us. Suddenly a thought came in my mind to visit Pakistan. Lahore is just 30 kms from there; same is the distance to Amritsar. Whenever I will get chance in life, I will definitely visit Pakistan once.
After the retreat defence guys (both countries) announced – if you want to buy some souvenir, you can buy it from the souvenir shop which is on right side of the gate. Pakistan is also having there souvenir shop at right side of the gate.
Few observations: I noticed that India side was full packed with people while Pakistan side was empty. This was my 3rd visit to wagha, earlier also I noticed same. It seems they are not much interested. 1 more thing Pakistanis keep waiting for Hindustan Jindabad slogans and then they start reacting. They were playing a song “Ye mera Pakistan hai” which was originally “Ye mera Hindustan hai” written by a poet before independence of India. Conclusion is paki’s are copy cats.
One more thing I noticed immediately after the retreat rickshaw pullers entered inside. People were selling CD of retreat ceremony; they enter inside the whole area including the VIP area. I don’t know how these people are allowed inside. They can be dangerous anytime.
This is another tourist spot in Amritsar. Durgiyana temple is situated at the back side of Amritsar Railway station. Temple is surrounded by water body from all sides. This is replica of golden temple. This temple is also covered with gold like golden temple. By name I thought it would be temple of Durga, but found Krishna, shiv statues inside.
After Durgiyana temple we moved to Golden temple. Golden temple is originally named as Harmandir Sahib but famous as Golden temple or Swarn Mandir because it is covered by gold.
This place is full of crowd 24 hours, but very well managed. At the left side of entry is shoe stand where you will find very decent people offering their services free of cost. Inside is very neat and clean. You have to cover your head with some cloth before entering to any gurudwara. So outside the gate the management put some pieces of clothes for people who are not having anything. Use it and leave it at same place while coming back.
Golden temple is also in between of water body. Bridge is made to reach inside the temple. People take bath in this holy water and then go for ardass. You can see coloured fish very clearly inside this pond.
You might feel thirsty while moving inside golden temple. So when you will come out there is arrangement of drinking water at the right side in bowls. Don’t hesitate to drink water in these bowls, these are cleaned properly there only.
This historical place is very near to Golden Temple. This is the place where Gen. Dier killed many Indians who were gathered to listen their leaders.
After entry you will see Martyrs well known as Shaheedi Kuwan in left side. 126 people jumped in this well to save themselves from the firing of british and died.
Ahead you can see bullet marks on the wall. Again the patriotic feeling shakes and come up at this place. You start feeling proud on those who gave their lives for freedom.
Amritsar is famous for Chhole Kulche. If you are there must have it. There are few good restaurants near golden temple where you have chhole kulche.
Another famous destination for food is Kundan da dhaba near railway station. You can have excellent food here.
Overall it was a successful trip professionally as well as personally. I finalized candidate for amritsar office. Also visited some places like durgiyana temple and jallianwala bagh for first time.
Visit this beautiful city and enjoy.