Wanderlust – Amritsar

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the city of Amrtisar. Having only read about it in text books in a historical context (read the Jallinawallah Baug Massacre) and otherwise in movies, I was quite excited about the trip to this town-city. And sure enough I was not disappointed with my short trip. Although I was there to attend a wedding (of two of my dearest friends), I did manage to experience the major sights and sounds of the city. Here’s my account of the said trip.

With no direct flight out of the domestic airport, the best way to get to this city by flight is to take a connecting one from the nation’s capital. Flights out of Delhi to Amritsar are quite frequent and take only around 50 minutes of flying time.
Once you land at the airport, a taxi ride to the main city takes less than thirty minutes. The city itself isn’t very huge, so getting from one end to the other would ideally not take a lot of time. But then, traffic is an element you need to factor into your travel plans in any city with a bustling automobile traffic, especially one with loads of two and three wheelers.
Since I was on a tight schedule (set forth by the groom and bride *wink*), the number of sights I could visit were limited. But the wedding couple were kind enough to arrange visits to the following prominent ones – 

The Golden Temple
Perhaps the most fabled and famous landmark in the city of Amritsar is the Golden Temple. Suffice to say, that a trip to this spot was on my checklist. Apart from the spiritual significance that the temple holds, the opportunity to capture the brilliance of this structure through my DSLR and brand new HTC One X was hard to pass up on.
The temple compound is colosal and houses multiple facilities apart from the main temple. These include free filtered drinking water, a library of Sikh religious texts and a free kitchen for all devotees. The main tempe building  I have to admit for someone who isn’t too easily impressed with temples, the Golden temple did offer something unique. 

A Panoramic view of the temple complex

The Wagah Border

GuardianThe other major tourist attraction that tops the charts is the India-Pakistan Wagah Border. More specifically, the border ceremony that takes place every evening at 5:30 pm. The entire objective of the ceremony, in my view, was to one up the Pakistanis with louder and more vehement patriotic chants. I’ll admit, i quite enjoyed the whole mexican wavesque manner in which we kept chanting and raising our hands in pride to shout out Bharat Mata Ki Jai (Praise the motherland).

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?videoUrl=http://v23.nonxt3.googlevideo.com/videoplayback?id%3Dba786dd2c669d9f8%26itag%3D5%26source%3Dpicasa%26ip%3D0.0.0.0%26ipbits%3D0%26expire%3D1334844456%26sparams%3Did,itag,source,ip,ipbits,expire%26signature%3D56518754D471CB047217A01F842B090012A835A6.AE66CFE4A20F7CE99F524BA8E1AE4C06C8B8A542%26key%3Dlh1
One of the most memorable aspects of the ceremony is the manner in which the leader of the squad (pardon my lack of knowledge of official army terms in these matters) shouted out the orders to his troops. Its a testament to the lung power that these men posses.
Here’s a sample –  

But all the cacophony and histrionics and patriotic chants take a backseat when the ceremony comes to a close with the ceremonial flag de-hoisting. It is a sombre moment where both nations  show a sense of camaraderie with a simple salute. 
The flags of the two bordering nations – India and Pakistan as seen from the Indian side of the Wagah Border.

The Food Joints

Of course no trip to the heartland of Punjab can be complete without a visit to one of the many famous dhabas. 

The first stop was at a place aptly called Kulcha Land. The location is very unassuming and so is the ambience. But don’t let the simplicity of this place fool you. The food was absolutely delish! I am not joking when I say that there was more butter on the kulcha than there was chole next to it! The Punjabis sure do LOVE their food. But I must admit, the extra fat gives the food that delicious flavor.

Our second (and most delicious) stop was at the famous Kesar Da Dhaba renowned for preparing its food in pure desi ghee (clarified butter). Although our stomachs weren’t trained for the pure richness and heaviness of the food, the authentic taste and tantalizing flavors ensured that we gorged on the food till our belts needed unbuckling! I am quite sure we gained a good five pounds after the meal.

The city of Amritsar is an absolutely delightful place to visit and should be on every shutterbug’s list of places to visit (Not to mention on every foodie’s list as well!) Apart from the various photog opportunities, the small town charm of the city will leave you with a very warm feeling that you will cherish for years to come. 

You can check out these other shots I was able to capture during my short stay in the city  of Amritsar,

Picasa Album

Flickr stream

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