Living in Karnal, I have been to Amritsar more than I can remember. So, here I am to guide you through the best that Amritsar has, to offer to you! The name of the city suggests much. ‘Amrit’ means sweet, and sweetness is there in the feel of this city itself. Be it people’s demeanour or mouth-watering food (My personal favourite).
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About Golden Temple, there is no such place I have ever visited that made me feel the same. The sacred place has an aura that leaves a lifetime of impression, the mesmerizing echo of Gurbani is one of them. Other is the beauty of the temple which is located in the center of the Sarovar where you can see people bathing, purifying themselves. After waiting for 2 long hours in the queue to enter the temple with people chanting “Satnam Waheguru”, which makes the hours fly like seconds, you get to see the beauty of Sikhs’ holy book Guru Granth Sahib and the respect they pay to it. There a lots of places to visit in Amritsar and explore and Golden temple is one of those.
The gurudwara also has a langar hall which has a sitting capacity of more than 500 people and also boasts of the biggest chapati making machine in the world. People volunteer to serve there and be a part of the community which works for all.
And believe me, langar is the tastiest food you will ever have. The daily practice of serving the people is well organized along with cleaning the hall after every batch and turn wise sitting arrangement which is all possible because of volunteers working there. (Yes, you can volunteer too). Moreover, the premises have other temples too that you can visit, sit there reading scriptures or simply enjoy the melodious Gurbani as your wish be.
The area is surrounded by a wide range of shops from where you can buy Gurbani, CDs, kadas (steel bracelet) with a wide range of designs that will give you a true Punjabi feeling to wear with pride, toys, neck chains and many other things to be explored.
One place of historic importance you can visit nearby is Jallianwala Bagh, which is known for firing attack (massacre) carried out by General Dyer on innocent people who assembled there for a meeting on Baisakhi, April 1919. This is where you can see bullet marks on the wall from the massacre and a well in which people jumped to death rather than having the British bullets to kill them. I believe this is the most unhappiest places to visit in Amritsar. It’s really hard to believe such traumatising Assasin happen here.
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Another is Wagah Border, where the flag ceremony is conducted every evening before sunset by Border Security Forces and Pakistan Rangers. This custom is jointly performed by military forces of both the countries since 1959 and every ceremony displays vividly the anger and arrogance among the two countries. Wagah border is around 30 km from Amritsar, you can easily get a taxi outside Golden Temple itself.
Amritsar is also known for the ladies’ suit market (think twice before you take your wife with you), you can get good quality suits at reasonable prices there, in fact, it treats as a wholesale market for other cities too. It is situated in Old Amritsar and gives you a real glimpse of the city.
Now, the most important part, let’s talk about food, the city offers the most delicious food one can find, be it non-vegetarian or vegetarian. Starting with lassi, Munim Di Hatti has the best and thickest sweet lassi filled with malai(cream) which fills you to the brim. Amritsari Kulcha is one delicacy everyone has heard about but believe me the way they taste there is incomparable with anywhere else claiming so. There are many shops where you can try them but, there are two which provide the best of it, Sanjha Chulha and Kanhaiya Sweets both of which are located on Lawrence Road. These are some places to visit in Amritsar for foodies.
One other shop is Kanha Sweets which is famous for cholle poori and has also been telecasted on Discovery Channel for the same. For breakfast I, myself prefer either of the two dishes along with lassi from munim and every time I have it, my love for the city goes up a level. There is one destination for aam papad lovers too, Lubaya Ram, Lawrence road, which is the oldest shop in the city and has a wide range of aam papad and other toffees with sweet, sour and so many flavors to choose from, those who like them already have their mouth-watering, I suppose. The old one is a cart shop in front of BBK DAV College and the other, opposite to it in the Arya Samaj Building. While you go around the city, you will find dal laddoo sellers who carry it on their head along with a stand, you might want to try them too.
There is this one-stop destination for foodies, that is Ranjit avenue. Love chaat? Try Brijwasi chaat wala there, they have everything you’d want, be it gol gape or Dahi Bhalla. Those who are meat-eaters are surely going to reminisce about the trip made here. There is this shop Charming Chicken on Majitha road which serves only butter chicken and tandoori chicken but I can certainly say that you will lick your fingers to its taste. Bansal sweets adds to the delicious food of the city, located on Lawrence road, all the sweets they have are yumm, but motichoor laddoo is one sweet, I eat every time I go there. Made with pure desi ghee, they leave your taste buds titillating. You can buy Sharbat (drink) from Top Star with so many flavours to choose from and a plethora of flavored candies too. You can also take besan ki mathi with you which can be bought from Udho Ram, Lawrence Road.
Moreover, two must go dhabas are Bharavan da Dhaba near the golden temple and Kesar da Dhaba in old Amritsar. Giani tea stall is one famous stop for Amritsarias, who after their morning walks go there and have tea. They also serve omelletes and kachori. There are so many people there in the morning that they sell around 500 teacups in an hour (unbelievable, isn’t it ?) So these are one of the best places to visit in Amritsar and should be in your bucket list.
You certainly have to agree now that this city can make your mouth water every time its name is mentioned! Once you’ve been here, you won’t forget about its allure and splendour!