Bro : I am off to Amritsar tomorrow.
Me : Take a bus, for your car is in shambles.
Bro : Let’s see!
Wifey : I want to go and meet Di (my sister) too.
Sis-in-law : Hey why don’t you guys join us as well. It’s going to be one crazy trip.
A mischievous smile crosses our (mine and bro’s) lips and the message is loud and clear. Even before anyone (Mom, Dad and my Aunt (Bua) ) could intervene with any valuable advice we are discussing the to do list and wifey and sis-in-law are bustling over their bucket lists.
The most amazing and crazy trips are always the most random ones. So on the pretext of meeting our sister and her in-laws it was decided to explore the iconic and historical city of Amritsar.
LOCKED AND LOADED
Road is where the heart is and celebrating the miles is something we can never afford to miss. Four crazy souls, whistling cold breeze, moon to give us company and some old and new memories. Random chit-chat, occasional laugh riots, serious debates and countless discussions on future trip plans kept us occupied all throughout the journey and in flat 8 hours we were able to complete 462 odd km.
The trip was planned to be a surprise for the sister and her family but more than them it was the brother-in-law (residing in Singapore) who felt the jitters 😛 .
Unfazed and undeterred, it was decided not to fall prey to the luxury called sleep (Had been awake since last 16 hours) for we were on a schedule and wanted to make the most of this trip. Unanimously it was decided to keep hopping, exploring and let the child in us take control.
Post traditional Amritsari breakfast of kulchas (Indian stuffed bread), makhan (white butter) and lassi (butter milk), it was decided to visit the famous Wagah Border to witness the Ceremonial Beating Retreat. The ceremony is more of a patriotic fervor for both nations and has been one of the major attractions for locals as well as tourists all throughout.
The energy and rhythm in the air gives you goosebumps and takes you as close as it can get to feel what you owe to your nation. The soldiers never disappoint and we should take home the message of doing our bit to keep our society and country sorted.
IK ONKAR (ONE CONSTANT)
The journey back into the city was all quiet and everyone was immersed deep in their thoughts, absorbing and under reverberation. Some moments are beyond description but to be only felt.
The city owes its name to Amrit Sarovar (Holy Reservoir) built by Guru (Spiritual Teacher) Ram Das, known to have healing powers. Amritsar is the largest spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion with The Golden Temple (Shri Harmandir Sahib) as the focal point which houses the Amrit Sarovar.
A walk through the compound full of sevadars (attendants) cleaning the rugs, serving food to people, attending to the elderly, helping in the kitchen and so on helps one calm down and reflect on the lost opportunities. Opportunities to be a better, tolerant and worthy human being.
The aura associated with this place is indeed spiritual.
Being the historical hub Amritsar also boasts of culinary magic spread across its streets and by-lanes. It has something for everyone, vegetarians and non vegetarians alike. Starting with breakfast and way beyond dinner, options are spread like the stars in the sky. I am listing below some of the most famous dishes associated with the city and not to be missed at any cost.
- Amritsari Stuffed Kulchas @ Kulcha Land
- Amritsari Fish Tikka
- Aftermint Digestives (Aam Papad)
- Guru Ka Langar and Kada Prasad (Golden Temple)
- Lassi @ Ahuja Milk Bhandar
- All kinds of meat assortments
- Chole Puri @ Kanha Sweets
- Amritsari Thali and Dal Fry @ Kesar Da Dhaba
The city is always open to exploration and a new twist is just around the corner.
SLEEP LIKE A LOG
Given the long continuous run of straight 36 hours it was time to shut down our systems and a stomach full of delicacies helped immensely in this regard. We all fell like logs with the promise of another interesting, long and eventful day ahead.
The day began with the food rituals and some more street hopping followed by a visit to the famous Jallianwala Bagh.
13th April 1919 echoes in the heart and mind of every Indian like it had been just yesterday. Jallianwala Bagh massacre wherein hundreds of innocent Indian civilians were slaughtered at the behest of British General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer on a day quite auspicious to them (anniversary of the Khalsa and Vaisakhi) remains fresh in the memories by the tell-tale bullet marks left on the walls of the park and the silent shouts emanating from the only well, into which people jumped in to try to save themselves.
The compound has a single entry and exit point which was conveniently blocked by the British soldiers and used every man, woman, old and young, including children as dummy targets. The air is heavy, sombre and resentful here.
UNWINDING = SHOPPING
Customary it is to shop till you drop and then shop some more. The ladies actually went on a spree and given the options Amritsar has to offer from clothes, traditional footwear, street jewelry to handicrafts some serious damage (to the pocket 😛 ) was bound to happen. Jokes apart, this city is indeed a treasure cove in this regard and offers options galore for men too.
THE HARDEST PART
Goodbyes are always nostalgic and specially when you are parting away from family.
A sweet sister with two naughtiest yet adorable toddlers and really caring and loving in-laws in a city so full of life, it indeed is difficult to bid adieu to good times and head back to the routine hustle and bustle. But as the tradition is, every new journey starts at the end of a beautiful one, gathering the memories and pulling away is inevitable.
Till then keep smiling and stay tuned for more interesting stuff up ahead!