A day at Amritsar

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
– John Lennon

We all have that one or two or maybe everytime-wala episode(s) when we deliberately plan a trip to some exotic destination, but could never make it. I guess you can feel me, folks! My plight is not different from this. It took me a year and a half and a ton of excuses to postpone the trip until this January when I finally made it happen; another destination off my list!

Disclaimer: I will not go into the detailed significance and history of the places. I leave it on the reader’s part.

How to reach: The connectivity to Amritsar from all the major cities of India by train, bus and flight is very good. You can book any of the modes as per your convenience. We took the roads (by car) starting our journey from Chandigarh through lush paddy fields, roadside dhabas and some major cities (Jalandhar). Thanks to my friend Raman for his car and hours of focused driving.

Where to stay: It is advised to stay near Golden temple so that you don’t have to waste unnecessary time in transit during your trip. There are lots of hotels (budget, economy and luxury) near the Golden Temple.

There are a few ‘Niwas Ashthans’ maintained by the Golden Temple authorities where free accommodations (Dorms) is provided to the pilgrims. They also provide rooms at a minimal cost. You’ll be provided with mattress and blankets for the night. The Niwas Ashthans are very clean and the authorities maintain strict hygiene there.

Best time to visit: The north Indian weather is extreme in both summers (temperature reaches as high as 45 degrees) and winters (temperature dips as low as 4 degrees). Therefore it will be better if you visit there in the months of September and October or February to April. If you wish to visit there during special occasions like a new year or festivals like Lohri(January ), you have to book your tickets early cause it will be very crowded then. 

Places to visit:

1. The Golden Temple: The Golden Temple, also called as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is the holiest place of pilgrimage for Sikhism. As you walk through the premises and see the holy sanctum plated with gold foil, surrounded by the still water, you will stay awestruck for a moment or perhaps more than a moment. But trust me, hold your breath cause there’s much more to see!



Things to do:

  1. You need to cover your head while entering the temple premises. You can keep a scarf of your own or find a bucket full of saffron scarf in front of the main entrance, kept solely for the pilgrims.
  2. You need to keep your shoes and bags in the cloakrooms provided there.
  3. In order to visit the holy sanctum, reach as early as possible. You will be lucky to face a long queue rather than a loooooong one otherwise.
  4. The holy Guru Granth Sahib is taken out of the sanctum every night at around 9:30 or 10pm as part of the rituals performed at the golden temple. If possible, plan your visit in a way such that you can witness this event. 

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6. Perform Seva. It is a selfless service that the pilgrims offer without any desire for reward, appreciation or Pat on their backs. The Sevadars (the one who performs Seva) are tasked either to serve water or to wipe the floor or to wash dishes in the Langar. To know more about it, visit my Instagram page or click here. (Seva at Golden Temple)

 

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7. Have a meal at the Langar. Langar offers free meal to everyone who cares to drop by its door. It is so huge that it can feed 5000 devotees at a time. Don’t worry!! you don’t have to wait in a queue to get your turn, everything is organised in a very disciplined manner with no hue and cry.

Not to mention the fact that the temple authorities maintain very strict hygiene there!

 

Things not to do:

  1. Do not make unnecessary noise and laughter inside the temple.
  2. Do not feed the fishes in the lake.
  3. Hygiene is strictly maintained in the temple and hence be careful to not litter the premises.

Note: This is to all photo-enthusiasts that I have a piece of bad news for you. Right after a day of our visit, the golden temple authorities have banned photography inside the temple premises. Sigh! But guess who got lucky!? *Wink*

Your Amritsar trip would be incomplete if you don’t visit Golden Temple during the night, cause the whole ambience in and around the temple complex transform into something so beautiful and serene that no words can describe it best. Spend some quality time sitting by the lake and enjoy the breeze touching your bare skin. It’s so soothing!


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2. Jallianwala Bagh: It is situated just near the golden temple complex within a walking a distance. As you walk past the martyr’s well, the bullet-marks on the wall, and a memorial in the memory of the departed souls, you could feel a sensation of sympathy for the unfortunate and of rage against the barbarity of the British forces.

Note: There are no entry fees there. You can take your bags with you as well.



3. Wagah border: I believe the is the only place where one can actually feel how it is like to be an Indian. When you see people from Pakistan waving their hands and flag from their pavilion and then look around you to ensure if we are able to keep up to them or not, your Indian blood will gush through your veins, explode out of sheer patriotism and you will cry out loud, ‘Bharat Mata ki jaiiiiii!!’

Note:

  1. The timing of the parade is 4 pm in winters and 5 pm in summers. It takes 40-45 minutes in traffic to reach Atari (Alternately used for Wagah border) from Golden Temple.
  2. There are no entry fees. Camera and other stuff are allowed but a tight security check is performed at the gates.
  3. Careful!! There will be people waiting to paint tri-colour on your face or hands and charge money afterwards. If you wish to get inked, you’re welcome, but make the money matter pretty clear beforehand.

Things you should not miss:

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  1. The market of Golden temple: Since I am not a shopping person, you might want to have the least advice from me. The streets, street lights and the buildings by the road give the visitors a completely different feel, even a walk through the market would be worth more than anything.

 

 

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  1. Amritsari Kulcha: It is one of the famous dishes in Amritsar as the name itself is quite descriptive of the fact. Although it is available in all the menus across Amritsar, I would suggest you try it in the restaurants of the Golden temple market.

 

 

Moral

Peace is not an act of surrounding yourself with good and positive stuff or of escaping from the reality that causes you unrest, it is a state of mind of how well you can interpret your life events and make the most out of it.

To be honest, I feel very difficult while penning down this blog, as I have to be very objective and informative keeping in mind the enquiries of  what-, how-, when- of a reader and the worth of time they can afford for this piece. But this place is not just any other tourist spots I have ever been, it is an emotion, a journey within a journey, a blend of peace and tranquillity, a limbo in the passage of time that enables you to escape the reality and dwell in ‘space and time’. I know, this concise piece of writing has not been able to bring justice to my emotions and deliver the best to the readers, hence my sincerest apologies in this regard.

(If you wish to know the emotions and insights that I have gathered in this trip, please leave a comment below. I’ll get back to you.)

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Why me?

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The picture was captured this morning at about 8.30am. Isn’t it a privilege to witness the subtle beauty of nature in a form such as the drama of lights and shades, as if you are witnessing a prodigy of the heavens that light as a symbol of good and pure shows the lost and deprived the way to success and victory?

Yes, it is!

But if it shows the path to your college and the daily routine of shoving your a** (yeah it is that word), you might not feel being privileged. Beneath the trees and the shimmering lights from heaven, the lane leads to my college and it is THE most used path since my stay at this place. So why get so attached to this picture all of a sudden?

Something not-usual happened today. Like the other days, students were flowing in and out through that lane. I noticed two kids of the age of 8 and 7 years, standing by the lane and watching the gate. Clearly, they were not students and that they were not awestruck by the divine prodigy, they stood so stiff and alert as if they were statued. But I didn’t give a second look cause I was getting late for my class. (You know the drill at such situations, right? )

By watching the picture, you can guess the position from where the picture is taken. Yes! I took my own path through the middle of the field (and from behind the kids standing by the main lane) to join the main lane under the trees, under the light of the gods. As I crossed the transfixed kids and about to board the main lane, they started following me. With their tiny steps, they tried hard to keep pace with me. The further I moved, the closer they got to me. I got alarmed and suspicious of the way they acted. I looked back at them, they were keeping their pace and still transfixed to something ahead, to the end of the lane, to the gates; closing some more inches towards me. And then the elder one held my right forearm and I felt a jolt; a stimulus that alarmed my nerves but did not retract my stature. I could see their eyes then, they were pale filled with fear and still transfixed. And finally, I cared to look towards the end of the lane where they gazed, and saw three wild street dogs, all of the height of the elder kid, roaming in front of the gate as if they were shooing away anyone who tried to enter their territory, growling and making a stern eye contact. Clearly, it was a frightening moment (read Code Alert) for the little kids. (Once I got terribly chased by a swan when I was a kid and got terror-stricken to confront swans for a long time afterwards.) As soon as I realised the situation, I grabbed them closer and helped them get past the dogs safe.

Soon after we departed, I felt really good and positive to have started my day by helping someone out. Also, I realised one thing. Undoubtedly I got alarmed by their alien behaviour for a few seconds and I was not in a mood to get involved in any trouble at the early hours of the day. (Having had the stereotype that a good start welcomes good events and bad welcomes bad events). maybe, I would have cursed myself saying ‘Why me!? (always getting involved in disturbing situations!!)’ But the real question should be ‘Why not others?’ (to know about the events howsoever not usual to others, I get involved in, please read this The Journey Begins )

Sometimes we blame the blues for the misfortune that dawn upon us; sometimes we hold the Almighty responsible for the misery we are in; sometimes we feel utterly depressed for being left out in this progressive world and keep on asking ourselves why me!!?   But we don’t care to notice the fact that not always do we run into the ‘why me!?’-situation or maybe we never do; sometimes we are chosen, handpicked by the Almighty for a greater cause. Even in the disguise of the worst ever experience, the Almighty gives us an opportunity to bring a much noble cause to the society. On a personal note too, we feel annihilated when life throws the odds to us so reluctantly, making us feel low on hope, but it is the silver line masked in those misfortunes that hold the spirit of positivity and goodwill in it.

Never fall in the vicious loop of ‘Why me!?’, rather ask ‘Why not other!?’ and feel special for being the chosen one. And you might not know whether the misfortune holds a noble cause or not, but the belief that you are chosen and the special one alone can give you the jolt to success that no other force can.

Like Napoleon Hill once said,

 ‘Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat.’