By Ashima Gujral:
In the summer of 2012, my family decided to make a long due trip to Amritsar to visit the holy Harmandir Sahib which is more popularly known as the Golden Temple. Super excited, as I was, as it had been years since I had stepped outside Delhi, the short duration of the trip did not deter my spirits in the least.
The three day weekend trip started with an almost four hour journey on the Shatabadi express to Chandigarh. A tip here out of my experience would be to leave your house with a margin of at least half an hour because you can never predict what may cause a delay. In my case it was the traffic outside the station. Anyway, after a lot of running and heaving, we reached just in time and were able to settle peacefully before the train started. For people who do not enjoy long journeys too much, don’t forget to carry devices for music or books to read or a laptop to watch a movie because sitting idle can really kill all your excitement and the view outside was in all honestly, not really worth watching.
Finally we reached Chandigarh where we were picked up by our relatives who were supposed to accompany us to Amritsar. The most exciting part apart from getting some humorous Punjabi company was that the rest of the journey was to be taken by car. An almost seven to eight hour journey included driving through the outskirts of almost the entire state of Punjab, having fun with cousins, listening to Punjabi folk on the radio, remembering old days and making the time fly. We stopped midway for lunch near the Jalandhar highway at McDonald’s.
Around 8 in the evening, we reached our place of accommodation in Amritsar- the Amritsar Club. After refreshing ourselves with a cup of tea, we decided to get ready and walk around on the streets of Amritsar. Even though there is nothing special in Amritsar to be shopped for or eaten, the markets were very lively. We dined at one of the famous restaurants of the city and left for our main destination-The Golden Temple. The ambience of that place and the rush of emotions going through me since I was visiting the place for the first time and had always wanted to be there made me really numb for a few moments as soon as I stepped into the temple. But a shock awaited me. Even on a Friday night, there was no dearth of devotees who came to take the blessings of the almighty. Thousands of people were spread around the place in all directions, some sitting near the Sarovar Sahib, some finishing the ritual of Parikrama and mostly queued up to bow down their heads in front of the holy Guru Granth Sahib. Even though there was chaos, the purity of the emotions felt was nonpareil.
After an exhausting day, when we finally retired to sleep, the electricity played a prank on us. It was not just the power cut, the generators also stopped working in the club and we spent the entire night talking and cursing the power cut. The next day was to be even more tightly-packed. After a heavy breakfast of Amritsari Kulche and Chole( my favourite dish till date), we visited the Jallianwala Bagh and the Durgiana Temple both of which were beautiful in their own way. But the main attraction of the day was to be the Wagah Border which was almost an hour’s drive from Amritsar. Watching the closing ceremony from the front row not just awakened the patriot inside of me but also made me feel more energetic by witnessing the energy and spirits of the deputed soldiers. Every second of those two hours was spent in cheering our nation. We finally drove back to Chandigarh and reached late at night.
We spent the third day resting and reliving the moments of fun and frolic and took the evening Shatabadi Express back to Delhi. The trip was almost like a dream come true. Even though a little hurried, we lived every moment to the fullest. I would however recommend a more relaxed trip to Amritsar and Wagah Border for three days to make the best of the vacation.