Quick Drive to Amritsar
Amritsar, more correctly called, Ambarsar is located close to 500 Km from Delhi, capital of India and the biggest reason to visit Amritsar is to get blessing at ‘The Golden Temple‘, the most revered Sikh shrine in the whole world.
Me, my wife (Smita) and Pihu (our little daughter) along with Smita’s parent visited this city on a sleepy weekend in October, 2005. We knew that the road, NH1, is fantastic and we should be able to get a average of 60 Km an hour and if we start early morning, we should reach a little beyond lunch.
Day 1 – Oct 15 2005
Pihu was a little over four months and the dad has crossed 65, I guess. I was struggling to be young and with more then 500 KM to drive without any big break, I was all set. I knew very well that Scorpio would obey and respect my desires and was pretty excited to go as much close to Indian border.
We started early around 6 and were zipping past sonepat, Panipat, Karnal and Ambala by the time it was 9.30 or so. From Ambala, there is a fork which leads to Chandigarh and then to Shimla, we needed to keep ourselves on NH1. Beyond Ambala, we crossed Ludhiana, stopped at a road side dhaba for some bites, relaxed there for as much as an hour. and then moved on.
I was driving on this stretch for the first time and boy, what a tar it was. If you just be on NH1, driving from Ambala to Jullundhar, you would possibly get the ‘great Punjab Growth Story’. There are no dusty/laid-back/mud-housed/shackle-y/poor villages along side the highway. What you instead see is rich, really rich and full-of-life fields and prosperity and more prosperity. Probably this was the only highway where I see only towns and even though there are villages, you will notice that there are tractors, smiling confident tooth-pouring faces and a feel of well-being.
So after crossing Ludhiana, Jullundhar, we entered the city by around 2 and were safely tucked in our hotel at 2.30. It was a well worth drive.
After lunch and a brief siesta, we left for Wagah Border. On the way, we passed through ‘Khalsa College’ and it has a really impressive building. Sometimes I think that the spanky-glass doorish-granite building just stand no where amid this old-grandish castles. We reached Wagah by 5 or 5.30 and it was late.
I would save the details for Wagah for a separate post and possibly Smita can write a better, richer post on that. Our sojourn with Wagah was a limited one since we didn’t venture too close, had a small baby and were simply overwhelmed by the sheer presence of large no of people. There is a big eco-system around Wagah with offices, vendors selling the ceremony-CDs, cut fruit vendors, goodies, souvenirs and what not. And of course lots and lots of dust.
On the way back, we stopped at ‘The Golden Temple’ and what a experience it was. The temple shines and the images shivers in the kund (pool) and it gives you that heavenly feeling with goose-bumps as you move towards the main temple. There is a large pool (amrit Kund) and it stands mightly in the centre, a two floor structure, draped in Gold. There were too many people and me and Smita decided to savor the memory from a distance and didn’t go in. Somehow we were not too confident on handling a 4 month old baby in that rush. Dad and mom went in while we relaxed on the cool white marble, cherishing the world around.
Would again request Smita to write more, the last time she went here, she got access to some of the core areas and has beautiful and rich memories of the place.
Back to hotel, few beers from local shops, some tandoori chicken and tikka, small walk in the city and we crashed.
Day 2 – October 16 2005
Courtesy long drive and tiring schedule, the day started late.
One of Dad’s friend came to see us and we went to “I fogot the name” for breakfast. And there we had the punjaabi-naashta, butter drenched paranthas with curd and lassi to top. What anyone should always do while away is to eat the local delicacies. While in Punjab, never miss a tall tumbler of Lassi after a mouth and belly filling Paranthas. Just dont worry too much about oil or butter or calories, just have it and enjoy. I will try to fill in the name of the restaurant, its one of those big-deal hotels so I should be able to figure out.
We started towards Jalianwala Bagh and were cut short by some small rally. It was already getting late and we knew that we will take at least another 10 hours to reach home so we chucked the plan of doing some minor shopping and got out of city.
Again back to tar and with a tired company, I rev-ed the accelerator, had some sprints of > 130 KMPH and was home by 9, I guess.
A weekend damn-well spent :)
This the the board at the border, seen from the Pakistan’s side