Monday, 11 January 2016

Visit to Capital Delhi and divine Amritsar

Every year, we plan a long trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This year, it was not possible to plan in the month of February hence we decided to visit in the month of January. This time we selected Delhi – Amritsar – Bharatpur Bird sanctuary – Ranthambore National park – Sariska National park and Jaipur. To avoid length of blog, I have divided it into 4 parts. In this part, will like to share my travel experience from Delhi and Amritsar

Without a doubt, travelers for this trip were me and my wife Renuka.

Golden Temple, Amritsar
Golden Temple, Amritsar

About Delhi and Amritsar:
               Delhi, the capital of India is a historically and culturally rich city having strong connection with Indian history. From tourism point of view, it consists of heritage sites, art, museums, monuments, gardens, religious buildings and shopping mall.
             Amritsar is the home of Harmandir Sahib also known as the Golden Temple, the divine and cultural center of the Sikh religion. It is also famous of Wagah border (road border between India and Pakistan) which is 28km from Amritsar. The nearest city to Amritsar is Lahore (50km) from Pakistan and Jalandhar (85km) from Punjab, India. Amritsar is also a favorite place for foodies.

Out entire Travel plan
  • Pune to Delhi Indigo flight on Thursday night – 7th Jan 16
  • Train to Amritsar on Friday Evening – 8th Jan 16
  • Day in Amritsar and late night train to Agra for Bharatpur
  • 3 days in Bharatpur and evening train on 13th Jan 16
  • A Day in Ranthambore for 2 safari (original plan was of 3 Safari but we missed it due to train cancellation). Late evening Private cab on 14th Jan for Sariska.
  • A Day in Sariska for 2 Safari and evening public transport bus for Jaipur – 15th Jan
  • 2 days in Jaipur and Jaipur to Pune night Flight

Day 0: 7th Jan 2016 – Pune to Delhi
              We started from Pune to New Delhi by Indigo airways at 11.30 PM and reached New Delhi by 2 AM. It was heavy fog in Delhi but we were lucky that our flight was not delayed. We took rest at the airport terminal. 

Day 1: 8th Jan 2016 – Delhi – Amritsar
              Our actual destination was Amritsar but as our train to Amritsar was at 4.30 PM, we decided to utilize our morning time to visit a few places from Delhi. At 5 AM, we left Delhi airport and boarded the Delhi Airport Metro Express (DAME) for New Delhi station. I had heard a lot about this metro line and it did not disappoint me. Ride till New Delhi was comfortable and quick. We had some snacks in coffee outlets near station and left for India Gate.
              We boarded yellow line metro for Central Secretariat Metro Station. As I said it was foggy day so it was difficult to enjoy the beauty of India gate. But we enjoyed the cold weather and practice parades for upcoming Republic Day. I had been to Delhi 5-6 years back and had visited most of the tourist places. India Gate built as war memorial located at the end of Rajpath. Names of more than 80 thousand soldiers who died in First World War are written on the memorial. Architectural style of the monument is of triumphal arch and often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. Below the India gate arch, Amar Jawan Jyoti (flame of the immortal soldier) is placed and manned round the clock by soldiers from the three services of the Indian armed forces.

Parade practice for Republic Day
Parade practice for Republic Day

              Our next destination was Rashtrapati Bhavan (House of The President of India). It is built in Indian architectural form consists of 4 floors and 340 rooms. You can see from outside. Also we visited parliament house of India. It is the circular shape building and combination of British-Indian Architecture. You can see it from Rajpath and photography is strictly not allowed due to security reasons.
              We went to Karol bagh area as my friend’s brother Sanat was staying in a hotel there for office purpose. After getting fresh, we 3 went to a nice south Indian hotel named Om Saravana Bhavan for an authentic breakfast. He left for office and we went Noida to meet my office colleagues from Noida branch. We spend some time with my colleagues and had lunch together. We reached New Delhi station to catch our train to Amritsar.
              There are many places to visit in New Delhi. We have been to this place before hence we skipped those places for this trip. You can visit Akshardham, Humayun's Tomb, Qutub Minar, Bahai Lotus Temple, Mughal Garden, National Gandhi Museum and Railway Museum etc.

Expense:
  • Flight Pune – Delhi and Jaipur – Pune: INR 7500/- per person
  • Shuttle bus to Delhi Metro from airport: INR 50/- for 2 person
  • Airport metro to Delhi station: INR 100/- for 2 person
  • Coffee and light snacks at Delhi station: INR 50/- for 2 person
  • Metro ticket: INR 08 to INR 15 (Dependent upon route)
  • South Indian Breakfast at Saravana Bhavan: INR 380/- for 3 people
  • IRCTC Delhi to Amritsar: INR 935/- for 2 person

Day 2: 9th Jan 2016 – Amritsar:
              We reached Amritsar at 11 PM on 8th Jan. Train was delayed due to weather conditions. We had not booked any hotel so our first task was to search for a hotel near the Golden temple. With the help of auto driver, we shortlisted a basic budget hotel named MG Residency.
               We woke up early morning to visit the Golden temple which was at walkable distance. It was an amazing experience to visit Sri Harmandir Sahib also known as Golden temple. It is the holiest place of Sikh people. In 16th century a Sikh Guru excavated a tank which was called pool of holy nectar (liquid) and the temple Harmandir Sahib, an abode of Gods, was built in the middle of this tank.

Ik Omkar....Holy bath at Golden temple, Amritsar
Ik Omkar....Holy bath at Golden temple, Amritsar

We at Golden Temple

             You have to remove your foot-wear outside temple and cover your head with handkerchief. If you don't have a handkerchief in your pocket, those are available at every entrance point without any chargers. Leave it at any exit point while going back. Here foot-wears are collected by volunteers at the counter & tokens are given. Never ever think that those who attend the shoe counter would be paid employees. They are devotees offering 'kar sewa' (service with their hands) which is one of the highly adorable features of Sikhism.

Golden Temple

Temple

Golden Temple from different angle

               We entered in the Golden temple complex and our first reaction looking at the place was, it is simply fabulous. Entire complex is built very beautifully with the golden temple at the center. Golden temple is surrounded by Holy water tank. Due to cold weather, we skipped holy bath but spend more than 2 hours in temple premises. After capturing the beauty of the temple in our camera, we went for breakfast.

Golden Temple complex
Golden Temple complex

Golden temple view from museum building

              Amritsar is famous for food. There are many places which tempt foodies to visit. Considering day visit, we decided to go different places for our meals. We had delicious Amritsar paratha’s at Bade Bhai Ka Brothers Dhaba. Definitely a must visit place for food lovers. After breakfast, we went at the Jallianwala Bagh. Jallianwala Bagh is a historical place from India. Indian freedom fighters sacrificed their lives in this place for our freedom. Most Indians are aware of the reason behind Jallianwala Bagh. British official Dyre has ordered open fire on innocent people who had gathered at this place to peacefully protest against the British rule in India. There is a water well where people jumped and walls are marked with many bullet marks. Now this place is converted into beautiful garden. There is small room, where you can find old newspaper article, photos and historic information about Jallianwala Bagh.

Amritsari Paratha at Breakfast

Guest is our God

Jallianwala Bagh lens
Jallianwala Bagh lens

Bullet marks on wall

Shahid well

               We went to the hotel for check out process and kept our bags in hotel’s clock room. We hired an auto for local sightseeing, had lunch at Sarhad restaurant and saw the Wagah border ceremony. Our first destination was Durgiana Temple. It is similar to the golden temple but small in scale including the fact that it is situated in the middle of the temple lake. The golden top contains figures of the dasha avatars, whereas the silver doors are mainly of Durga, Parvati, Laxmi, Ganesha, Trimurti and mythological stories. If you have spare time, then visit this temple else you can skip it.

Durgiana Temple, Amritsar
Durgiana Temple

               Our next place was Mata Lal Devi temple. Temple is quite simple but divided into 2 parts. One is temple and other consist of a type of magical mystery tour through narrow caves and corridors with replicas of famous shrines from around India. This is set on two upper floors. It is very colorful and makes for an enjoyable 30 minutes. At some points you have to get down on your hands and knees to crawl through the narrow tunnels.
              Now our journey began towards the Wagah border for evening flag down ceremony. It was 1 PM in clock and we were feeling hungry. We took break at restaurant Sarhad which is located in Atari village which is the last village before India-Pakistan border. This restaurant serves typical Pakistani cuisines which is very tasty. Menu mainly focused on non veg meal but they also have variety of vegetarian dishes as well. Ambiance of Sarhad is nice and you can see lot of painting on walls. They claimed as Sarhad restaurant is the last restaurant before the Wagah Border, about a kilometer away from the Wagah border. You can get street food and local Dhaba’s between Sarhad and the border.

Sarahad Hotel
Sarhad Hotel

Typical Pakistani cuisines at Sarhad hotel
Typical Pakistani cuisines at Sarhad hotel


              We got to know that all wooden furniture was brought from Lahore. Also Sarhad restaurant had two mini trucks (vehicles) parked in the garden area. It was painted by a famous Pakistani artist named Haidar Ali. All paintings portray the story of India-Pakistan friendship. We had tasty veg and non veg meal before we headed to the India-Pakistan border.

Sarhad Vehicle

India - Pakistan Friendship vehicle

              We reached at the Wagah Border by 2.30 PM. There are milestones that say India-Pakistan border ahead and Lahore 22km, which gives you an altogether different feeling. Wagah border was the only road link between India and Pakistan till 1999. Now Aman Setu from Kashmir is another road link between the two countries. Many locals approach the tourists for face painting or flag painting of the tricolor. We were excited to witness the event.

Way to Pakistan, Wagah border
Way to Pakistan

               The Wagah border ceremony takes place in the mornings to raise the flags and in the evenings to lower the flags from both sides. The flag lowering ceremony is open for tourists without any cost. Border is open from 10 AM to 4 PM to cross the border with valid documents. After the flag ceremony gates are closed. For winter Closing (Flag lowering) ceremony take places between 4.15 PM to 4.45 PM. Try to reach before 3.30 PM to get better seat/stand to enjoy the parade by BSF. This event is marked by the enthusiasm and patriotism which can be experience from start to end. Loads of Indian patriotic songs are played on which people dance with full energy. It was an amazing experience to witness Army action from both sides. Watching your neighboring country from few meters gives a different feeling and also how safe you feel in your own country. 

Wagah border
Wagah border

Crossing border, From India to Pakistan

Proud to be an Indian...
Proud to be an Indian...

               There are 3 options to reach the Wagah border – by hired vehicle, hired Auto or sharing vehicle. Sharing vehicle leaves 3 PM from Temple but the drawback is that it reaches few mins before ceremony which means you might lose a chance to get a better seat. We hired an auto for the evening. After lowering flags from both side, gate was closed for the day. People are allowed to come close to border gate for few minutes. VIP people get change to stand very close to the Gate whereas others have to keep few feet distance. VIP seats and non-Indian seats are located very close to Gate. Only army relatives are allowed in VIP stand. We saw some tourists arguing on VIP stand but why can’t people understand that army people sacrifice their family life then they deserve VIP treatment.
At Wagah Border

Flag lowering ceremony at Wagah border
Flag lowering ceremony at Wagah border 

Flag lowering ceremony

              You can see Pakistan land as well from stand. A thought came in my mind that, you can see greenery/farms on both sides, trees on both sides, birds, animal and even nature on both sides then why we need a border? This is not about these two country but applicable for entire world. Anyways, we left this beautiful place after sunset. We had light snacks and coffee at Sarhad and then reached back to Amritsar. 

Fence makes a huge difference?
Sunset at Wagah border
Sunset at Wagah border

               We spent some time in the market for shopping and then had tasty dinner at Kesar da Dhaba. It’s very basic place considering the ambiance but tasty food is available due to which it is most popular place in Amritsar. After dinner, we had couple of hours in hand before boarding the train to Agra/Bharatpur so we decided to visit Golden temple for night view. The Golden temple looks very different and beautiful at night and I highly recommend to witness at late night. We enjoyed the night view and spent some time meditating in temple area. 

Golden Temple at Night
Golden Temple at Night

          After 11.30 PM, we left Amritsar for Agra visit followed by Bharatpur stay. Train was running late due to heavy fog in the morning which affected our travel plan. To avoid blog length, I’m writing on Bharatpur in my next blog.

Night view from Building terrace 

Blog on Bharatpur, Paradise for Bird watching: Bharatpur: Bird’s paradise

Expense:
  • MG Residency Hotel stay: INR 1200/-
  • Auto cycle from market to temple: INR 30/-
  • Breakfast: INR 195/- (Amritsari kulcha paratha, Panner paratha with chole and 2 patiyala glass lassi)
  • Hired Auto for Wagah border: INR 700/- Local sightseen and Wagah border. (Rent car chargers starts at INR1200/-, shared vehicle starts at INR 100/-)
  • Sarhad restaurant: INR 1287/- for 2 persons (1 veg, 1 non veg, 6 butter Roti, juice and coffee)
  • Locker chargers at Border: INR 20/-
  • Dinner at kesar ka Dhaba: INR 179/-
  • Battery Auto from temple to station: INR 100/-

Contact numbers for your reference:
  • Bhupendra Singh Auto driver: 09417408659
  • MG Residency Hotel +91-183-2554935, 2554936

Sarhad Hotel

Sunset and Trade Gate between India and Pakistan

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful photographs. Loved the sunset over trade gate pic very much

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Pritesh for taking time to share details to help travellers, very useful, can't find such actual information elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete