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Experience True Punjabi Culture in Amristar

''You can't leave the city without picking a handful of phulkari salwar-kameez and mojaris''

You’ll be spoilt for choice for 'to do things' in Amritsar, be it visiting the historical sights, shopping for clothes or enjoying the local lip-smacking savouries. Graceful and elegant Golden Temple is a show stealer indeed and we suggest you to spend a couple of hours in peace and solitude here. Take a leisurely walk on the campus or just relax by the Amrit Sarovar, where this grand golden beauty stands. And get a sense of belongingness to the country amid cheers of Vande Mataram at the historic Wagah border.

LOCATION : Amritsar is a historically and culturally rich city in the state of Punjab

BEST TIME : You can get best from Amritsar in the winter season from November to the end of February. Sightseeing is easier in the breezy weather.

MUST DO THINGS : Start your trip by offering prayers at the magnificent HARMINDIR SAHIB OR GOLDEN TEMPLE surrounded by Amrit Sarovar. The temple's complex is surrounded by a fortified wall with eighteen gates. The main gate is called Darshani Deori. For long this lake was a meditation retreat for wandering sages. In fact, Lord Buddha is said to have spent time at this place in contemplation. Because it’s really crowded during the peak season, we suggest you to visit the temple at early hours of the day. The temple is beautifully lit up in the evenings. Everyone is welcome to share the Langar here. You can also get involved in community service by helping in the kitchen or wiping the floors of the temple. No one asks for money here and donation is voluntary.

AKAL TAKHT SAHIB meaning Eternal Throne is a part of Golden Temple complex. It is situated opposite to Harmandir Sahib and both are connected by a passage. It’s here the Sikhs organised meetings and approved resolutions before going to battlefields. The Guru Granth Sahib is preserved here at nights. The Akal Takht is the oldest of the Five Takhts.

You can’t afford to miss the WAGAH BORDER fun. It’s an hour drive from Amritsar to Wagah Border. If you get hands on the VIP passes, nothing like it. It’ll save you the hassle of standing in a queue for hours to attend the Closing Ceremony or the lowering of the flags. Security forces of both the countries - India and Pakistan - have been mutually following this ceremony since 1959. The show starts off with the playing of patriotic songs and remembering the brave soldiers who laid down their lives for the country. The Retreat ceremony starts 30 minutes before sunset.

The memories are scary yet true. You’ll get goosebumps visiting the historic JALLIANWALA BAGH, where the bullet marks can be seen even today. The bullets here were fired from a narrow passage leading to the Bagh on the orders of General Dyer. Hundreds of innocent people who were attending a meeting here became victim of the massacre. Many even jumped into the well to escape the bullets. The bullet marks have been highlighted on the walls and the well is covered by a net.

Another famous pilgrimage for Hindus is SHREE DURGIANA MANDIR, dedicated to goddess Durga. It is supposed to be the epicentre of Hindu renaissance and rejuvenation. The mandir is located in the middle of the city and is easily approachable. It's sometimes called Silver temple for its carved silver doors.

SUMMER PALACE OF MAHARAJA RANJIT SINGH is a heritage palace of Amritsar built under the aegis of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, also called the Lion of Punjab. The palace is home to some amazing artwork and paintings of the Sikh age and splendid mirror work. You must visit the museum here that houses paintings, coins collection and miniatures depicting Sikh age in the country.

SHOPPING : Amritsar is a mecca for shopaholics. The state is into handlooms, lacquered woodwork, jewellery and handicrafts in a big way. You can't leave the city without picking from a handful of phulkari dupattas and mojari shoes. Phulkari work (traditional embroidery) is unique to Punjab.
You can visit Guru Bazaar, Mochi Bazaar and Shastri market to get hold of some exquisite Patiala suits, mojari and jewellery. Get hands on a few pickles, sticks and jams too that are prepared by local rural women. You also get some good quality dry fruits in Amritsar.
In fact, you can also check out the shops outside the Golden Temple that are dealing in souvenirs like paintings, ornaments and even knives and swords. Take back some home for friends and family. You can also visit other shopping areas like the Hall Bazar, Katra Jaimal Singh and Lawrence Road if looking to buy embroidered items, woollens, carpets and blankets. Wooden chests will be a good pick from Amritsar.

FOOD/DRINK : Once done with the sightseeing, gorge on the delicacies of this city. Street food is an in thing here. You’ll come across many street vendors selling fresh and luscious Punjabi savouries like lassi, halwa, kulcha and paranthas. Don’t hesitate to munch on a few of these.
• GurdasRam Jalebi Wale for fresh jalebis and gulabjamuns
• Brothers' Dhaba for sumptuous Punjabi Thali
• Ahuja Milk Bhandar for freshly prepared lip smacking lassi
• Ashok Kulche Wala for some of the best kulchas in town


Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal

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