Imagine a place where people from every walks of life get to feed themselves every day without facing any kind of discrimination or prejudice and with no expectation to return any kind of favor for this virtuous service.
Sounds too idealistic to exist?? Right?? Believe it or not, but there is actually a place, exist as such.
217 km northwest of Chandigarh, 455 km northwest of New Delhi ( The capital of India), and 47 km northeast of Lahore, Pakistan (Though you can not travel from this side), there is a place called Amritsar, proudly making a name for itself on the world map for the relentless service.
And at the center of this beautiful and lively city, we all can witness the harmoniousness and sacredness of Sri Harmandir Sahib (the golden temple of India in Amritsar city of Punjab).
The golden temple
Even though this place is a Sikh pilgrimage but you can witness people from every corner of India belonging to different religions bowing down their heads in sheer reverence and adoration of the one who doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor and shower its love and blessings evenly.
This place is immensely acclaimed for running the world’s largest community kitchen (Langar).
Tens of thousand people can eat the food and satiate their hungry stomach from the Langar here any day at any time, they want. On holidays, the number even reaches to staggering fifty thousand a day. Truly incredible it is.
This place is so revered and famous amongst people that, the moment after getting out of the Amritsar railway station, you can find free buses waiting outside to drop anyone or everyone, who wishes to see the gurudwara, Sri Harmandir Sahib.
I have been to many gurudwaras ( meaning “door to the guru”) across India such as Sri Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib in Leh, Takhat Sri Harimandir Ji (Patna Sahib) in Patna, and Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib in Uttarakhand.
Every one of them definitely has their own charm but Sri Harmandir Sahib is definitely the most appealing, lively, and dazzling.
A golden gurudwara ( Swarn Mandir, the golden temple), situated right in the middle of the Amritsar city, surrounded by a stunning lake and, devotees from all over the world happily waiting in queue to offer their prayers and seek blessings from the Waheguru.
The beauty of this place increases tenfold at night when the light illuminates from and reflects on this marvelous golden temple.
Thankfully, a trip to Amritsar is not only about the golden temple. This place also has other tourist attractions and things to do such as a retreat ceremony at Wagah border, few temples, Jalliawalah bagh, and mouth-watering street food.
Wagah border retreat ceremony
Being a quintessential Indian, I get goosebumps when I listen to patriotic songs. Suddenly out of nowhere, I start feeling an adrenaline rush inside, and slowly my calm demeanor starts diminishing, and a huge spike of energy emanates, transforming my personality immensely. At that point in time, I want nothing but the tricolor swaying high in the sky and all the enemies deep inside the grave.
Multiply this feeling, tenfold, this is what you will get during the retreat ceremony at Wagah border in Amritsar.
You can witness, BSF(Border security force) soldiers from India and Pakistan rangers, doing a daily parade practice and flag ceremony with immense zest and zeal.
I don’t know much about Pakistan’s side but India certainly nails that 2 hours ceremony. Patriotic songs playing continuously with BSF encouraging every spectator to become a participant. They even call many women and children to participate with them.
At last, we can see our BSF Jawans performing parades and showcasing what they are best at. Patriotism, class, elegance, and swag.
How to reach Wagah border?
Reaching the Wagah border is extremely easy and cheap. Severals sharing autos run daily which charges 100 INR per head. The distance is 35 km from Amritsar city or the golden temple. And one has to leave around 1 pm from Amritsar to reach on time as on most occasions there would be a huge queue waiting at the Wagah- Attari entrance for you to get through. And also if you could manage to reach earlier then you could also acquire front seats which brings more enthusiasm and fun during the ceremony.
On April 13, 1919, British troops fired gunshots on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in an open space called Jallianwala Bagh. subsequently, It killed several hundred people and wounded even more. This one incident affected the Indo-British relations a lot and pushed Indians to fight for freedom from the oppression of Britishers fiercely.
Shreds of evidence of that barbaric massacre can still be witnessed in Jalliawalah Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.
A place that still echoes and exhibits the despondency and agony of so many innocent souls can not be considered a tourist place. But still, people on their trip to Amritsar visit this place to pay tribute to brave martyrs who sacrificed their lives and further ignited the yearning of freedom inside every Indian.
Food in Amritsar
Amritsar is heaven for those who want to take a break from exotic fast foods and try some authentic Indian cuisine such as Amritsari kulchas, Aloo Kulcha, Nutri Kulcha, Chole puri, Puri-Chana, Lassi, Makki di roti and Sarson da saag, Jalebis, Gulab Jamun, etc.
There are plenty of outlets to choose from and out of those, finalizing one and proclaiming the best is definitely a tedious task to do.
A few of the options you might consider to try are Kulcha Land, Friends Dhaba, Pal Da Dhaba, and Kesar Da Dhaba.
Nearby places to visit on Amritsar trip
There are few famous tourist destinations you can include on your Amritsar trip ( if time and budget allow) which are in the radius of 100 – 200 km such as Jalandhar (81 km), Pathankot (115 km), Dalhousie (198 km), McLeod Ganj (205 km), Khajjiar (211 km), Jammu (211 km).
Even though these places are at a significant distance but considering the fact that you have to travel all the way again if you wish to explore these places, including one or a few of them in your Amritsar trip certainly would save your time and money.
Because at the end of the day, along with sheer excitement and fun, traveling also brings a sense of discomfort and inconvenience, especially the time when we have to travel long distances. So better give a thought to visit nearby places beforehand.
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