Amritsar is a city that has many shades to offer. If you google Amritsar, you will get to know that the city has many things to flaunt that make the city the one of its own kind. It is one of the few places that has something or the other to offer for varied tastes.
For the Spiritually Inclined – The Golden Temple, the most sacred place for Sikh community and to many Indians. In fact the city got its name “Amritsar” with the creation of the temple. As the story goes the fourth Guru of Sikh community, Guru Ram Das founded a water tank named ‘Amritsar’ and the place attracted thousands of dwellers since then to grow and become a city called Amritsar. As per records, the real name of Golden Temple is ‘Harmandir Sahib’ which literally means place of worship for one and all. The name golden temple became more popular given the direct connect of upper part of the shrine being covered with gold.
Just like its name Harmandir Sahib is a place that is open to one and all and has entries from all four directions to make the meaning quite literal. Throughout the world Sikh community is known for their ‘Kar Seva’ where thousands of Sikhs offer their help in doing the most basic jobs for others and helping others. Once in the Gurudwara, its not just the beauty of gold and the intricate designing that will bold you over, it is the sheer love that will knock you down coming from the helpers across the huge compound.
The Gurudwara offers free food for thousand of people everyday known as ‘langar’. The food here is prepared by members of Sikh community who do it as an act of service for others. Seva(Help) also includes serving the food, cleaning the utensils and trash, mopping the floor etc. All of this just humbles you down. It is said that many ‘Sevaks’ (helpers) come out from fanciest and most expensive cars, roll their sleeves up and get to work since their religion is all about helping the needy and believe in helping by offering the help physically and not just by writing a cheque!
For the History Buff – Amritsar has been quite an active place through many chapters of India’s history. But sadly, the chapter that Amritsar is most known for is of a massacre. Dingy, narrow lanes will lead you to Jallianwalla Bagh situated in the heart of the city, a place that has witnessed a grueling massacre during British Colonization era. Many people had died (including women and children) who had gathered in this garden for a peaceful protest to free two of their leaders when General Dyre ordered to shoot the crowed and it is believed that the firing went on for more than 10 minutes till the time teh soldiers ran out of ammunition. Many people jumped into a well out of desperation since there was no way of going out from that place. Somehow the garden still breaths within a thin film of loss and fear.
For Adrenalin Junkie – Don;t tell me that the names India & Pakistan taken together does not let your adrenaline juices run high 😉 Well, i am sure if not to everyone but at least in this part of the word they definitely do!! Wagah is the name of a small village situated at India-Pakistan border and hence the name “Wagah Border”. Everyday there is a special ceremony that is performed by India and Pakistan soldiers and thousands of people come to witness this from both the sides.
Here you can see some coordinated parade moves from both armies and the ceremony ends with a hand shake between the two soldiers representing the two countries symbolizing peace. Be prepared to get jostled by the crowed and be weary of high energy flowing through the ceremony. Though i would suggest not to miss it cause if you think of it where else will you be able to witness such high drama performances by two countries known for their rivalry with so much of passion from both sides….i guess this part of the world thrives on drama…a little more than the rest 🙂
For the Foodie – Trust me this place is a foodie’s paradise!!! Everything here is just sooo delicious so be it road side food or an expensive spread, you will end up licking your fingers and i am not kidding. Many people say its the water of the city that makes anything cooked here taste so yum!!! Whatever be the reason you must totally try everything edible here. The place is known for its special bread called ‘Amritsary Naan’ that is generally served with a specific kind of pulse called ‘chole’. The food is not very spicy but definitely has many flavors to savor. From classy restaurants like Crystal to ‘Gola’ ( flavored and spiced ice) and ‘Golgappe'( crispy balls of wheat filled with spicy water) from the street, you must taste everything and not to forget the sweets…if you do not have a sweet tooth at least try ‘jaleb’ cause in my knowledge you will not find it anywhere else in india.
For the Shopaholics – Amritsar is known for its ‘Phulkari’ craft. Phulkari is a folk art of embroidery that is done with silk thread. You will find scarves, duppatas (shawls) and full punjabi suites( traditional costume for women in punjab) in phulari work here. The colors and intricate hand work is totally worth a buy! Apart from phulkari, amratsarri jutti ( shoes) is another must buy. Again handmade, full of vibrant colors and comfort.
Bring a bit of Punjab back with you with these colorful gifts for yourselves and for your loved ones!!!