Amritsar Wows With Old World Charm Amid Bustle Of Modern World

Heritage monuments, sumptuous dhaba food, colourful bazaars, and more... Here's a guide to spending time in Amritsar
Words fall short to describe Amritsar's transfixing beauty
Words fall short to describe Amritsar's transfixing beauty

In our travelling journey of visiting multiple cities in India and abroad, Amritsar, the Golden City of India, remained an enchanting dream until it manifested in front of us on our month-long journey to northern India.

On our very first day, Amritsar had humbled our spirits with its old world charm amidst the bustle of the modern world. Its narrow lanes were a part of an old untouched city that retained its rich heritage in the outskirts of the urban growth. Surrounded by historic gurudwaras like Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Gurudwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji Asthaan Antim Sanskar Sahib and Gurudwara Toba Bhai Shalo, to name a few, which served the residents and guests of Amritsar with langars, the people of Amritsar never sleep the night on an empty stomach.

City Of Transfixing Beauty

Dhabas and homemade food by locals made it affordable for us and every traveller to relish the delicacies of Amritsar. These Amritsari gurudwaras of great religious significance had immersed us in respect and worship. The Amritsari streets often introduced us to people who gave us a glimpse of their austere Sikh culture, with proud turban-clad men and women donning traditional attires as a symbol of their reverence. Every lane was a glorious display of how culture was a deep-rooted virtue in the residents of Amritsar. Not very often do we come across a city where words fall short to describe its transfixing beauty.

The People

The Amritsari locals were too kind and helped us navigate our travel. The staff at goSTOPS hostel (our place of stay) and the guard we approached at The Golden Temple had immense knowledge on Amritsar's history, displaying how well informed the people were about local culture. On our travel to Amritsar, we happened to meet Mr. Harjindar Singh Ji from the Punjab Police Force. We gave him a lift from Jalandhar to Tarn Taran and were introduced to Amritsar's warmth hospitality through his kind invite for food and stay at his residence. He even offered to guide us through the streets of Amritsar. While we couldn't make time to meet him again, the kindness from the people of Amritsar was more than overwhelming, to say the least.

The Food

The food culture in Amritsar is a class apart. Our culinary experience was highlighted by a few not-to-be-missed eateries. Bhai Kulwant Singh Kulchian Wale served us crisp kulchas with an assortment of gobi, paneer and aloo fillings. The 100-year-old Gian Di Lassi Shop served us refreshing lassi while Gurudasram Jalebiwala sweetened our whole experience with pure ghee dipped jalebis, malpua and gulab jamun.

Crisp kulchas with a tall glass of yummy refreshing lassi
Crisp kulchas with a tall glass of yummy refreshing lassiInstagram

Kesar Da Dhaba gave us a peek into their busy kitchen that cooks delicious dal in huge brass matkas and crispy parathas that were made dipped in bowls full of ghee. Billa's Chicken that accepts orders only on an hour prior as bookings, has its statement Buttered Chicken Tandoori as the only item on the menu. Relishing the chicken with a cold Thums Up in hand was an experience to savour. Amritsar's streets are filled with such quaint stalls, where we tried soya chaap and chaat for the first time. Despite being very famous, these Amritsari dhabas and shops have retained their compact, but endearing abode.

The Places

The breathtaking Golden Temple as dusk falls
The breathtaking Golden Temple as dusk falls

The Golden Temple is a must visit for anyone travelling to Amritsar. While it amazed us with its presence in the day, witnessing the temple dazzle against the cool night with its sombre golden lights was as enchanting as the kirtans sung there. As we soaked in the experience, we witnessed the coming together of the local community that volunteered in serving free langar to the devotees. To be amidst such a display of selfless service was nothing short of peaceful devotion.

Partition Museum

The Partition Museum took us through the difficult times endured by people during the partition of India. Donated by relatives of the refugees, these archives, certificates and exhibits illustrated the horrors of a gruesome period while traversing through the lived lives of refugees. A few heart wrenching exhibits we saw -- a historical certificate issued to Indians that permitted them to sit in front of their colonizers and a small suffocating tent used by families during partition. These haunting images stayed with us beyond our time in the museum and gave us a new perspective of the partition.

The Gobindgarh Fort
The Gobindgarh Fort

The Gobindgarh Fort had a 3D mapping show adorning the monument in lights and visual projections that explained the history of Amritsar and the Sikh community's heroic saga across centuries. A beautiful 7D show followed, elucidating the life and history of the royal and brave Maharaja Ranjit Singh. We were grateful to have been introduced to Punjab's rich history and culture that unfolded in front of us through technological extravagance.

Street Shopping

Amritsar also has lots of places for street shopping. The Katra market sells traditional phulkaris, juttis, quintessential masalas made by the local community, traditional attires stitched on spot and goods designed by local industries.

As we had come to the end of our Amritsar journey, we were stunned as to how the city had wholly embraced us in all its simplicity. No matter how much we try to explain the kind of impact this city has had on us, we fail time and again in replicating its beauty. It's an incomparable feeling that is truly understood only by people who pay a visit to the land of such serenity.

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