This weekend I went to Amritsar to do some research for our India Someday clients. The religious city in Punjab is famous for three things—the Golden Temple, delicious food and the Wagah Border.After a lot of exploring (and a lot of eating!) we’ve come to the conclusion that this is definitely one city you do not want to miss!
Amritsar is a food lovers paradise. From the moment you wake up, the amount of food you will manage to eat would be quite a revelation even to your own self. The alu puris (potato curry served with deep fried Indian bread stuffed with cottage cheese) and the chole puri (the same bread served with spicy lentils), are great for breakfast. Kanha sweets or Munim di Hatti at Lawrence Road are probably the best places to try these. For lunch either pay a visit to the Golden Temple Langar (we’ll get to this later) or visit Kulcha Land where for just INR 50 -100 they serve great stuffed kulchas and lassi. If you do have some place left for dinner head to Bharwan ka dhaba or Kesar ka dhaba, for some rajma (red beans) and rice or tandoori roti and veggies. If you have not noticed yes there is a slight bias, I am vegetarian.
North Indian food in general is a little heavy on the stomach, but eating in Amritsar is so much fun you will not stop. On every corner of every street there is something being cooked. From alu tikkis to fresh fruit juice, it’s all so tasty and delicious that I cannot stop raving about it. There is lots of butter, lots of fatty foods and loads of proteins and lentils, and the few days you’re there I would suggest throwing any diet out of the window.
Barring the taste the best part of eating in Punjab is the people. Punjabis are a jolly and lively bunch of people who love only one other thing more than eating—feeding someone else. So enjoy your meals hot and served with loads of love and smiles :).
The Golden Temple
The serenity and the beauty of the Golden Temple is mesmerising. People often compare visiting this temple to visiting the Taj and I can guarantee that it is equally spectacular, probably even more so. Continuous chants, the stillness of the water, the thousands of people providing service for nothing in return, and the ornate beauty of the Temple itself all adds up to make a visit here really and truly special. I would recommend also signing up and helping to cook in the Langar. The temple itself has a long line to enter no matter what time of the day you visit.
Side note: A langar is found in every single Gurudwara or Sikh Temple, and is a part of their religious beliefs. It is a 24 hour open kitchen. The food is free to all guests without any discrimination(you can donate a small sum of course and you should!). The entire kitchen is run by volunteers who work in shifts and anyone can be a part of this team. The food is healthy and nutritious and filled with love :).
You should visit the temple in the morning and at night when the religious book is taken back into safe keeping, around 10 pm. If you interested in reading up more about Sikhism and the history of the golden temple click here
Wagah Border: India’s patriotic pilgrimage
Palpable in the air of Amritsar is the feeling of patriotism that is invoked when you visit the Jallianwala Bagh or the Wagah border. As sad and haunting as the tragedy of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is the Wagah border is on the other end of the spectrum, yet both are connected by a heady sense of history and Indian strength. Every evening at the Wagah border (the only road entry point between India and Pakistan), you can witness a fun and competitive Beating Retreat ceremony or the ‘raising/ lowering of flags’ ceremony.The passion with which the soldiers on both the sides fulfill this duty is incredible. Shouting, singing, the thumping of the feet, drums, dancing and trying to out do the other side makes for a surreal experience.
Staying in Amritsar
The stay in this city is not very expensive, the lower range budget hotels like Akaal Residency are clean simple and good value for money. And you even have a few unique options like Virasat Haveli. But here I would recommend staying at a higher end property as you do want to go back to an empty shell after the hustle and bustle of the narrow streets. My pick would be a stay at the Hyatt in Amritsar, they have nice cozy rooms and the service is impeccable.
In conclusion all I would like to say is that if you have the time then you have to visit Amritsar. If you do need help in seeing how you can fit Amritsar into your trip, let us know and we at India Someday can help you plan your trip.