Amritsar Beckons!

The Golden Temple, Amritsar.

Sheer euphoria it was! I finally had the opportunity to visit the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Having hopped on a bus from Dehradun to reach Chandigarh for a day’s halt, I booked a room at the Clarion Hotel, Chandigarh. The hotel is on an offbeat location from the main Zirakpur city, with the most cordial staff and a luxurious stay. Resuming my journey ahead the next day, I headed by a bus to the fabled city of Amritsar, in a 5 hour journey to reach my hotel. Amritsar being an old settlement is a rather congested city, but who cares when it is home to the Golden Temple.

welcome-to-amritsar
A road sign reads “Welcome to Holy City Amritsar”

Quickly geared up for my visit I DE boarded to grab a snack and quickly head to the Golden Temple. It was a 20 minute journey from my hotel, for which rickshaws and cabs are easily available. I was surprised to see how such a massive Gurudwara could possibly be stationed in a city which was bustling with more people than the space on the roads! So I finally entered this lane which led to the entrance of the gurudwara. All around are little shops to cater to the Punjabi shopping requisites, which was yet another target of this journey!

The entrance “dwar” was under construction, yet the peace was already within. Moving ahead amongst the hypnotic crowd heading forward I happened to take the first glance of the mystic temple, Sri Harmandir Sahib. Golden Temple is also called Sri Hramandir Sahib, where “Har” refers to god. Designed by Guru Arjan Sahib, the 5th Nanak, this masterpiece was completed in the year 1588. Covering a massive area of 67 sq. ft, the Golden temple was like a ‘Sudden Revelation’, amidst the chaotic streets of Amritsar. It is certainly an idyllic structure, resembling a paradise as one enters the main premises.

The temple is bustling with devotees 24 Hours of the day, and today was no different. A sarovar (tank of water) in between the temple is a cool respite not only for the devotees but for the beautiful fish inside the tank too! The water of the sarovar is considered to be healing; so many a devotees take a quick dip into the holy water.  A little further, stands upright a  500 years old Ber tree, which is named after the first head priest of the gurudwara, Ber Baba Budha Sahib Ji, who used to sit under this tree. Moving along the red carpeted area  (a symbol of seva dharam of the community treating all alike)  we join the queue to enter the main temple. The temple has a 10ft high door arch, with entrances on all side and the gilded arch is a sight worth capturing!

Slow and steady wins the race, but who wishes to? We were progressing at a very slow pace as groups of devotees were being ushered into the temple turn by turn. On one side the view of the sarovar with the white pinnacle walls of the gurudwara was a mesmerising sight. Now that our turn finally came we were let into the holy place where the sacred scripture of Guru Granth Sahib is placed. The Granth is placed inside a canopy studded with golden jewels, making it stand out even in its physical presence. The magnificence of the religion is heightened inside this place where the holy book, (Guru Granth Sahib) is worshipped as dearly, as a loved one!

Not much time can be spent within the four walls of the sacred place; however one could take a seat outside the temple to meditate. A quick exit made me realise that the temple had entrances on all four directions, opening way to the entire humanity! Before exit they offer you  prashad which is a treat for the sweet buds. On exit we entered the same area near the Ber tree, where a couple of pictures and an afternoon of solace, was found sitting close to the sarovar. Post this we went inside a giant hall where the Langar was being served. Statistically,nearly 35,000 people are fed on a daily basis in the gurudwara. Such a remarkable religion and the commendable service of the people is worth a mention!

The finger licking Langar lead us to the exit, from where began a dive into history at Jallianwala Bagh. A lot of shopping can be done on the way back as the streets are full of “Punjabiyat”, from Kadas(Bagles) to Jootis, you would have enough to take back home. But for me the ‘Gumbaz’ (dome) of the gurudwara stood still in the memory, shining in its gilded beauty, symbolising serenity in chaos with the leaf motif made on the top!

Here’s your Checklist, while you plan a trip to Amritsar!

  • Plan a trip preferably during Winters, as it saves you from sunny troubles!
  • Don’t forget to carry:
  • Camera
  • Scarf
  • Water Bottle
  • Cap
  • A pair of floaters is a must for the 500 mt walk from the road to the main entrance of the temple & even for those who love to explore the streets on foot.

Accessibility from Delhi

Delhi — Chandigarh ( Train/ Flight/ Volvo buses) – Amritsar (Train/ Buses/ Flight/ Taxi)

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