Friday, March 09, 2012

The City of Golden Temple

If you are habitual of living in a place with wide roads and smooth traffic and are easily put off by narrow alleys, too much of traffic and all the construction work going on at every nook and corner, you will at once discard Amritsar as your destination. But, hold!! Are you really sure you would like to leave Amritsar out of your itinerary? My guess is that you would not. Who would want to miss on an opportunity to experience rich heritage and culture of this historical city while riding a rickshaw passing through narrow lanes of the old city and overtaking four-wheelers on a busy street! And the calm, pious and serene Golden Temple! And, then the world famous food of Amritsar! Ohh!! So this city has got so many things to offer. Well, one just can’t resist the temptation, really, once one knows what he or she is going to get in Amritsar.

Amritsar has been a favourite destination of mine. I am there whenever I get a chance to go. Since I am living in the northern part of India, and nature of my job makes me travel a lot, many times I have had the privilege of visiting the city of Amritsar that is often regarded as Sikh capital of the world. Aptly so, because it is Amritsar where there is the highest seat of Sikh religion.
Whereas newer parts of the city are all concrete, the older ones still retain their rustic charm
The actual charm of this city lies in its older part. There are many gates- Lahori Gate, Bhagtanwala Gate, and Lohgarh Gate, to name few- to enter the old city. As I earlier said, better you take a rickshaw to tour this older part. It moves slowly so it lets you absorb as many details as possible, and it is far cheaper mode of transportation. If you are coming to Amritsar by air, then you reach at Rajasansi. From there you have to take a faster mode of transportation. But if you are coming by train, you are already in the older city. Just hop on a rickshaw and start roaming.

Famous Durgiana Temple
Like Golden Temple, the Durgiana Temple is also covered with gold. This is a Hindu temple
The adorned idols of different gods are situated in the inner sanctoriums of the temple
This is a famous tourist spot in Amritsar. Durgiana temple is situated at the backside of railway station. Temple itself is situated in the middle of a water body. This brings pictures of Golden Temple in mind, as both are situated inside a holy pond. Like Golden Temple, the dome of Durgiana Temple is also covered with gold. In fact, it was constructed on the pattern of the Golden Temple by Guru Harsai Mal Kapoor. It is sometimes called Silver temple as it has carved silver doors. Though, the temple derives from Goddess Durga, it is in fact a Vishnu temple which also houses idols of Krishna and Shiva. It is in fact a temple complex where there are some historic temples such as Sita Mata and Bara Hanuman.

Historical Golden Temple
From Durgiana Temple, you can move to Golden Temple. It is also a temple complex which is named as Darbar Sahib, but it is famous as Golden Temple as the main temple inside is plated with gold. The actual name of the main temple is Harmandir Sahib. Besides temples, there are museums and inns inside the complex. The place is full of pilgrims 24 hours a day, but is very well managed. 
As devotees take dips in holy water, the guards attired in traditional dresses are all around 
On the left side of entry gate is shoe-stand where you will find very decent people offering free service. You will find it very neat and clean inside. But it is the serenity and piousness of the place that mesmerizes you the most. Most of the first-time visitors feel as being in a state of meditation or trance, while they are inside the complex. But be sure that you don’t forget to cover your head with some cloth or handkerchief before entering any temple inside. If you don’t have even a hanky with you, don’t worry… Outside of the main gate, you can find pieces of cloth placed there by the temple management for people who don’t have anything to cover their head. Use it and leave it at same place when you come out.

As I mentioned before, Golden Temple is also situated in the middle of a water body. There is bridge to reach the temple. People take bath in this holy water of the pond and then go for ardass (offering prayers). Even sitting on the bank of pond is very soothing. The coloured fish inside the pond keeps you engaged and focussed.
Water being offered to devotees inside temple. The bowls are cleaned properly before re-use
If you have been feeling thirsty by now after moving inside the complex, you can have water from various taps there. It is safe to drink water from those taps which are marked as ‘Drinking Water’. Even outside of the complex, you will find bowls of water being offered to you. If you are hesitant to drink this water, don’t be as these bowls are cleaned properly and the water is filtered.

The Jallianwala Bagh
Under this dome, there is the well people jumped into when bullets were fired on them 
The brick wall behind the well which, after more than 90 years, still has bullet marks on it
A monument was elected later in memory of those innocent people who attained martyrdom
This historical park is very near to Golden Temple. This is the place where Brigadier General REH Dyer ordered a massacre on 13th April 1919. Following his orders, hundreds of unarmed Indians who had gathered here to listen to their leaders were killed in what can be described as an act of madness. As you enter the park, you will see on the left side the Martyrs Well, locally known as Shaheedi Kuaan. Many people jumped into this well to save themselves from a rain of bullets being fired at them by British Army without any warning, and died. They had nowhere to escape as the entrance is very narrow, as you will notice when you are there, and British troops had blocked that entrance. Ahead of the well, you can see hundreds of bullet marks on the wall. Officially, the total death poll was put at 379, but it is said that more than 1500 people were killed here on that fateful day.

And now, Amritsari food
These mouth-watering dishes can make anyone feel hungry. It is heaven for food-lovers
Amritsar is famous for its food. It is in fact food-lovers’ paradise. The most famous of all recipes is Chhole Kulche. While you are in Amritsar, you must have them at any cost. There are a few good restaurants near Golden Temple where you can have Chhole Kulche. One more famous destination for food in Amritsar is Kundan Da Dhaba. It is near railway station. You can have really excellent food here.

Text and Photos by Naveen Choudhary


ambarsari food mein rehrdi food, bijja(wet) khatta kulcha mast hai. shivaley ki lassi hindu college ke pass, hall bazar ki tikki, hall bazar ka malai wala doodh..list lambi hai bhai.

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