The Golden Temple, Wagah Border and lip smacking Punjabi food, that is what one thinks of when the topic of Amritsar, the furthest end of Punjab comes up. My long pending desire to visit this place finally came to life this January.
So there we were, three women, travelling from 3 different cities to converge at the land of the Golden Temple. Amritsar has an international airport so flights were the best option for us as we were coming from 3 different directions. We booked ourselves at the Ramada, which as per research was just 500m away from the Golden Temple.
Some insights into the travel- While Amritsar is an international airport, it’s a small one so don’t expect a lot of eating options there. The waiting lounges are crowded and the luggage takes a long time to come. Additionally, the city doesn’t have Uber and Ola cabs still so if you don’t have someone coming to pick you up, the pre-paid taxis at the airport are the best option. They charged about INR 450 for a drop to the Ramada hotel.
The food- True to what the various sites said, The Ramada Hotel is right in the main market, a short walk from Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple). On route you would find two of the famous dhabas – Brothers ka Dhaaba and Bharawan the Dhaaba. While the Bharawaan the Dhaaba is older, I found the food and hospitality at the Brothers ka dhaaba much better. Tried the veg thali, the amritsari kulche, and the amazing lassi laden with loads of malai that Amritsar is so famous for. On the contrary the Kesar Da Dhaba which tops the charts on all websites was highly overhyped. The food is the same as that served at the Brothers ka Dhaaba but it is in an extremely dingy lane and definitely not a place you would be excited about going alone. Since we were there in the winter season, the Gur Khara is a must have. We had a yummy dose of Gur Khara at the Novelty shop on Lawrence road.
Harmandir Sahib- So now that we have spoken about the food, moving on to what we were there for, Harmandir Sahib. The temple needs to be visited both at night and morning for an enchanting experience. We first went there in the evening. There are a couple of dedicated places to leave your shoes. The tranquility of the bhajans and the water surrounding the temple touch you the moment you enter the premise. The campus is huge so you can walk all around sit wherever you want. As any gurudwara, the premises are extremely clean. The golden beauty of the temple shines brilliantly at night. Do keep an hour and a half for darshan as there is always a long queue. However the queue is managed well. People don’t push or argue. The temple is very small inside so there isn’t much space to stop there. You can keep walking and then come outside and sit if you want to. Once you have the darshan, you can collect the khara parshad outside. A massive langar serves food at all times. One just needs to follow the queue. The parshad is also available at a dedicated spot if you want to carry some back. There is also a dedicated spot to take a dip in the pool surrounding the temple if you want to. We visited the temple in the morning as well. The ambience is extremely soothing at all times.
Other things to do and see- There are lots of shopping places right next to the Golden Temple. The Hall bazaar and Katra Jamal Market are the best places to buy phulkari stuff and juttis. The Jallianwala Bagh is also next to the Golden temple. The moment you come out of the temple you will see a lot of taxi drivers calling you out for a visit to Wagah border as well which is about 30 kms from Amritsar.