A day of travel, food and spirituality in Amritsar (India)

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 Amritsar 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!

Golden Temple, Amritsar, India The Golden Temple, Amritsar

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Amritsar Food

Amritsar is a food lover’s paradise. From the moment you wake up, the amount of Amritsar food you will manage to eat is a revelation. Choose between alu puris (potato curry served with deep fried Indian bread stuffed with cottage cheese), or chole puri (the same bread served with spicy lentils) for breakfast. Kanha sweets or Munim di Hatti at Lawrence Road are the best places to try these. For lunch I suggest you pay a visit to the Golden Temple Langar. Or try visiting Kulcha Land where for just INR 50 -100 they serve great stuffed kulchas and lassi. If you do have room 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 Amritsar food is so much fun you cannot 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.

Excluding the taste, the best part of eating in Punjab is the people. Punjabis are a jolly bunch of people who love only one other thing more than eating—feeding someone else. So enjoy your meals hot and served with lots of love and smiles.

Indian Food, Photo by Pradeep Rungta Amritsar food will always leave you craving more

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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 as spectacular, probably even more so. Experience continuous spiritual chanting, the stillness of the water, and the thousands of people providing service for nothing in return. The ornate beauty of the Golden Temple itself makes your visit here truly special. I would recommend also signing up and helping to cook in the Langar. The temple itself has a long line upon entry no matter what time of the day you visit.

A langar is a 24 hour open kitchen found in every single Gurudwara or Sikh Temple, and is an element of the religious belief. 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 Golden 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.

Golden Temple, Amritsar India The beautiful Golden Temple at a distance

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Wagah Border: India’s patriotic pilgrimage

Palpable in the air of Amritsar is the feeling of patriotism invoked when you visit 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 heavy sense of history and Indian strength. The border is the only entry point between India and Pakistan. Every evening you can witness a fun and competitive Beating Retreat, or the ‘raising/ lowering of flags’, ceremony. The passion with which the soldiers fulfil this duty is incredible. Shouting, singing, the thumping of the feet, drums, dancing and trying to outshine the other side makes for a surreal experience.

IMG_20140930_171827616_HDR Displays of patriotism at the Wagah border

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Accommodation

The stay in this city is not very expensive. Lower range budget hotels like Akaal Residency are clean 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 cosy rooms and the service is impeccable.

Overall, Amritsar is a destination you should visit if travelling to India. The Golden Temple, Amritsar food and the patriotism and general spirituality of the area make for a warm and welcome stay. If you need help in seeing how you can fit Amritsar into your itinerary, let us know and we at India Someday can help you plan your trip.

The British massacre at Jalianwala Bagh, India A violent and bloody massacre by the British took place at Jalianwala Bagh, India

 

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