Ludhiana, the Manchester of east!! - By Sanjeev
Ludhiana, the land of my in-laws, has become the most frequently visited place for me since I got married in February 2006. The statement does not reflect much enthusiasm but let me tell you that if you have relatives (read in-laws) you would love to go there repeatedly. So if you want to taste Punjab, marry a Punjabi or simply go there!
Let us get back to Ludhiana now.
The best way to do that is to catch the Shatabdi Express. One leaves at 7:20 AM and the other at 4:30 PM from New Delhi railway station. Takes only four air-conditioned and well-served hours. If you like to be your own boss and steering is your middle name the Delhi Ludhiana highway is well maintained. Other advantage of taking the road is that one can try the roadside Punjabi dhaba cuisine. Don’t miss the sweet malai loaded, Lassi in summers and hot milk in winters, baingan bharta or the eternal saag & makki roti
Ludhiana does not have buses as public transport and not many taxis. The city runs on shared autos. Next time someone tells you of big autos in sada Ludhiana don’t make fun, pay attention.
I must admit that Ludhiana is mainly a destination for people in transit, businessmen for the bulk shopping of winter apparel or the non-Ludhiana son-in-laws. However, I have recently discovered that there are places to see (http://ludhiana.nic.in/html/places_to_visit.html) and facts to feel about http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2006/02/28/280206_ludhiana_manchester_feature.shtml when in Ludhiana.
I have simply pasted these links as I have not been able to do any sight-seeing yet except for a visit to Punjab Agricultural University (my dad-in-law works for PAU and I wanted to meet a scientist-acquaintance over there). I particularly liked a large physical map of Punjab made in cement on the ground depicting river & canal distribution of the state and what all districts they quench. For the first time I saw mushroom “farms”, bater, turkey…but I wonder whether as a tourist one is allowed to enter these “farms” etc. If one has the inclination, one can enroll for the weeklong course on various small-scale entrepreneurial ventures.
We also visited the Chaura bazaar. It is like unurban (not rural) version of Chandni Chowk of Delhi. From household articles to clothes at throwaway prices, you will also get to see the past in these streets. Right above the shops are old havelis with many of the original facades and elaborate window frames. I was there on a hot summer noon and the place was kind of deserted and quiet. My thoughts immediately went to-“this is how old Pakistan would also look like”…purposefully narrow and winding streets, a few of them still brick paved. It was like being on the sets of Buniyaad. Of course, to see them you will have to leave the market aside and get into the non-commercial area of this region.
If that does not interest you…how about Shoppers Stop, KFC, Pizza Hut or the IMAX (in the making still)? Ludhiana is soon going to boast of the most modern community center too, The City Center and the upcoming Festival City Mall with a lot of traditional stuff served on a jet age platter, or the dazzle of a metro at the Mall Road.
Make up your mind!