Travelogue
Ambarsariya connect

Ambarsariya connect

Hola! 
Here is the memoir of our last trip to Amritsar. I have not written any travelogue before, so I expect this naïve attempt will do justice to your expectations. The trip began in mind. Long back. The plan was executed on December 23, 2017. Who else wouldn’t love an extended weekend? Hell yeah!
Caution: Lengthy blog ahead. Plunge in, if plenty of time is available with you. Nonetheless, I shall keep you glued, if you decide to scroll down.
 
🙏 VANAKKAM! 🙏
 
The trip
The beginning was bleak. The look of this lady was horrendous. Which civilized fellow would abandon the elders at this age? Barbarians! The language she communicated with, was incomprehensible. The pain reflected through her eyes was piercing. She had chai with us. With no options left, we informed the Stationmaster. Tweeted the same to Railways for her rescue. I hope Amma is doing fine now.
IMG-20171224-WA0010.jpg

Bon voyage! The train by which we were scheduled to go, was cancelled. Unavoidable circumstances you know. Inconvenience caused is deeply regretted. With no options left, we boarded another train with general tickets. If my memories serve me well, the last time I travelled like this was seven years back for college admission. Anyways, the journey is fun when you’re with friends who add up to your mental comfort. We tried to bargain for seats. Only to get rebukes in return.

Bachelors are least desirable species in our society

I have an intuition that I belonged here along the lines of Lahore. Previous birth may be. Chilling temperature greeted us. 

The already roasted bachelors suddenly realized their worth. We were welcomed by a plethora of eager humans. Auto wallahs! The outgoing passengers from the platform are very much sought-after. We’re guided by one auto wallah to the Hotel. Only to learn later that, they were commissioned by the hotel manager for bringing in the occupants. That 30% brokerage added up to our bill. 🙄

The spirituality:

Amritsar is famous for the holiest of the Gurudwaras, [1] Gurudwara Harmandir Sahib. Let’s go!
Located at the entrance of the Darbar Sahib, is Brothers Dhaba. I have been craving for Lazeez, authentic Punjabi food all my life. By no chance, I could miss the opportunity to Breakfast there. Several Chhole kulchhe were martyred to three underfed gluttons.

Waiting for the food

Pet Pooja ke bad Prabhu Pooja.
Do not forget the headgear before heading towards the premises. The entrance to the Gurudwara shows the brilliance of Sikhism and Punjabi cultural heritage. Shoes are to be deposited at the entrance. The ambience will leave you mesmerized with the architecture and followers of the faith.

The Golden Temple. Scenic. Serene. Tranquil.

The history of Sikhism is new in contrast to other contemporary religions [2]. But a proud one. The queue to the temple is long. Took us almost two hours to reach the main temple. Did our rounds of the pooja and headed back to langar. The simple statistics reveal that it is the largest kitchen [3] feeding approximately 100,000 people in a day [3] [4]. The cooking, cleaning and distributing staff mainly consists of volunteers or sewadaars. [5]
No wonder the Roti, Dal, Sabzi and Kheer were mouth-watering. Hygiene and nutritional values are the priority.

Waheguru Ji da Khalsa, Waheguru ji di Fatah!

The patriotism:
There are numerous Auto wallahs who take you on a ride to the Wagah Border. Yes, the Indo-Pak Border [6]. Barbed wire fenced. Most militarised [6] [7]. The patriotism pumps in once you reach the venue. The hawkers move to carry the tricolour, tattoos, balloons etc. There are several queues, security checks and bingo! You’re in, to witness the retreat ceremony.

Being a holiday, the masses gathered were skyrocketing. Alas! we didn’t get a chance to be counted among the stadium audience. The giant screen was installed there to facilitate the telecast. Occasionally we peeped through the gate panels. The atmosphere was exhilarating. The chants of Bharat Mata ki Jai, Vande Mataram! and Hindustan Zindabaad dominated the sound waves. Only a barren soul could have held its nerves calm. All the persuasion to the BSF personnel to open the gate fell on deaf ears. Was it momentary rush or the over-pumped patriotism, the crowd have gone berserk once the ceremony was about to over. It broke the gate one. Believe me, had there been no barricades present, the maddening crowd was destined to enter the foreign territory. All praises will fall short in describing the calmness and composure maintained by the security forces in handling the situation.

Poor gate separated from its partner
The fences make me lament the past. Had it not been there? Why you did this Radcliffe [8]? 😭

I still curse the day when Mountbatten plan [9] was executed [10]. Karni ko ab kaun tale. Still, I wish borders were porous. I could have dined at Lahore [11] [12]. Shopped and roamed around Anarkali Bazaar [13] [14]. Goofed around the streets. Debated with scholars at Forman Christian college [15]. Paid my tributes to the Legendary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh at the Shadman chowk [16]. Hey, that’s a dream. This is the closest I could be, to Pakistan. I glanced over the fences. Same people all around. The atmosphere is the same. Hun gaaliyan bhi same hain [17]. Bas ik line khich di.
The area is deeply militarized. Jammers are on duty. You’ll not receive or make calls to anyone around for a significant fraction of area. The search for the lost is as painful as kumbh ka mela. And the same Auto wallahs will drive to and fro between Amritsar and Border. So, the coordination between the tourists and the driver is a must.
The nights were cold. Needed something to heat us up. No! No! It’s not what you’re thinking. I needed some roasted chicken and mutton to please my palate. Oh boy! Amritsar has got ‘em all. We were full till the mouth. After all YOLO! 😃😃😀😄 Needed something to gulp them down. Who cares for water when you are in Amritsar. Lassi will do. The thick one. In the lengthy glasses.

Another best thing about Amritsar is that everybody possesses immense knowledge about their past and have awesome stories to tell. Fortunately, we didn’t have to travel far for the folklore. The Hotel manager of ours was a retired police officer who preached a lot about Sikhism, the great Gurus and Punjab. He was glad that I belonged to Bihar. Patna, the capital of Bihar is the birthplace of the last guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Thanks to our CM Nitish Kumar Ji for celebrating the Prakash Parv of Guru Ji with the greatest zeal and enthusiasm [18] [19]. You have elevated the status of Biharis among the Punjabis. We were also narrated with the stories of partition. Painful indeed. Op. Bluestar [20] and subsequent events were another blot on modern India. Glad that these are the things of the past and we moved on. 😊
Long night journey, tour throughout the day and a saturated tummy were demanding a deep sleep. Bedtime stories catalyzed the onset of it. Indian cricket team were victorious in the match [21]. Goodnight. Tomorrow is the day.

Day 2.

Merry Christmas! 🎅🎄🎄🎄🎄
I am sorry if I am posting my brunch. It would be a sin to call it only delicious. I have made a request to the Oxford Dictionary to describe it. Wait! Did somebody suggest me to appeal Shashi Tharoor Ji to come up with the Rodomontade ones? The author is an exasperating farrago of distortions broadcasting random stuff masquerading as a blogger. 😃😃😛

The emotional part:
It has been a lifelong desire to pay my tributes to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh [22].

The entrance is narrow. The same entrance used in 1919 by troops of the British Indian Army. Under the command of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, it fired 1650 rounds [23] of bullets to innocent unarmed masses on the day of Baisakhi [24]. What sort of monster would do that? The marks of bullets on the walls of the Bagh are a reminder of the cruelty of the British Raj. The well is there [25]. Yes, the same well in which people jumped to save themselves from the firing bigots. Only to be crushed and suffocated to death. 120 dead bodies were recovered from the well itself [26]. The death toll is estimated to be around 1000+ [24] [27]. If firing on unarmed civilians was excused, I must say, the empire should have dropped ‘Great’ from ‘Britain’. None of the major dailies published the news with the intensity and casualties the next day of the mass murder [28]. I summoned all my strength to hold tears. The evidence of cruelty should not be forgotten.

What’s more saddening is that the British Govt. is yet to make reparation for this cruelty [29]. With that, I do not mean in monetary terms. We are doing good on our own. We have lifted a significant fraction of mass from poverty [30] [31] and YEAH! WE HAVE GREATER GDP THAN UK [32]. But, Yes! A ‘SORRY’ for the act will send a message deeper than it was meant to be. A sorry, that ensures that no more Jallianwala Bagh is repeated. I, on a personal note, hold no grudges against the UK or its people. That was a thing of the past. The present is beautiful. The future will be prosperous.

Om sarvey bhavantu sukhinah, Sarve santu niramayah!

Roadside Romeos:
Next, we planned to visit Maharaja Ranjit Singh memorial. It’s the archives of the partition. Oops! That was Monday. Closed. We had an awesome Kadhi chawal by Gurudwara on the occasion of the Prakash parv of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Thank you.
Next, we planned to roam around the city on our own. The upcoming stoppage was Durgiana temple. I found it to be a replica of the Golden temple. Amazing place. We moved to the Bara Hanuman mandir adjacent to the temple. Erected there is a banyan tree. Legend has it that Lava and Kush, son of Lord Ram tied Lord Hanuman with the same banyan tree.

Om Han Hanumate Namah
On the streets, we were introduced to these tiny pieces of delicacies. Yes, these are Gulab-jamuns. Tiny ones.

All tired, I didn’t go inside the Mata Lal Devi Mandir. Rather, I chose to wait outside and talk to the locals. The same learned locals.
Bahut ghum liye.
Time to grab some food. It was dominating my minds that it is going to be the last meal I will have in Amritsar. Do not let any place be emptied in the stomach. After all “Nature abhors a vacuum”. I will be longing for the Chicken Masala, Baingan Bharta, Dal fries and Chapatis.
Burrrrrrrrp! 🤓 Sorry!
No matter how full we are, there is always some scope for desserts. The street vendor across the railway station was selling the Gajar ka halwa. I emptied my pockets for it. Trust me, I had to count coins and we all were emptied when we approached Lassi wallah. He granted us mercy by offering 35 ₹ lassi for 33 ₹ only. Thank you bhaiya. May you be blessed.
The run for the money is good, sometimes. After several closed ATMs, we finally tracked down the working one. The best thing that we digested the chyme in our overfed bellies.

Indian railways have a reputation of not being on time without ascribing any reason. It maintained its tradition by showing up one and a half hour late. We sank into our seats at Shan-e-Punjab Express.

Happy Journey.

May be inner me was not happy. A part of me was left in there. Amritsar, I am gonna miss you.

💓

© Tryambak Srivastava

Footnotes:

1. Harmandir Sahib https://www.britannica.com/topic/Harmandir-Sahib
2. Luis Moreno; César Colino (2010). Diversity and Unity in Federal Countries. McGill Queen University Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-7735-9087-8., Quote: “Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated on the Indian subcontinent”
3. In Pictures: Kitchen that feeds 100,000 daily http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2013/11/pictures-kitchen-feeds-100000-daily-20131117124238293396.html
4. At the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, nearly 100,000 people eat here on an average day—and not a single one of them will pay for the food they consume. https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/ypx47x/inside-the-worlds-largest-free-kitchen
5. 50,000 Free Hot Meals a Day and 9 Other Amazing Facts About the Langar at the Golden Temple https://www.thebetterindia.com/53531/golden-kitchen-10-things-didnt-know-langar-golden-temple-amritsar
6. The world’s most dangerous border http://www.economist.com/node/18712525
7. Kashmir conflict: Tension on the India Pakistan border http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37531900
8. Here’s How Radcliffe Line Was Drawn On This Day And Lahore Could Not Become A Part Of India https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/here-s-how-radcliff-line-was-drawn-on-this-day-and-lahore-could-not-become-a-part-of-india-328012.html
9. The Mountbatten Plan For India, R Palme Dutt https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/periodicals/labour_monthly/1947/07/1947-07-india.htm
10. Mountbatten Plan: Introduction, Features and Implementation http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/india-2/mountbatten-plan-introduction-features-and-implementation/49351
11. 14 photos that prove Pakistani street food is the absolute best https://images.dawn.com/news/1175407
12. 16 Mouth Watering Street Foods in Lahore – Street Food is a King of Food http://locallylahore.com/blog/16-mouth-watering-street-foods-lahore-street-food-king-food
13. Anarkali Bazaar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarkali_Bazaar
14. Pakistan past and present: Crumbling Hindu buildings in Lahore’s oldest market trace the transition https://scroll.in/article/845208/pakistan-past-and-present-crumbling-hindu-buildings-in-lahores-oldest-market-trace-the-transition
15. Forman Christian College https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forman_Christian_College
16. A visit to Bhagat Singh’s Lahore, where a chowk can’t be named after him because of his religion https://scroll.in/article/760303/a-visit-to-bhagat-singhs-lahore-where-a-chowk-cant-be-named-after-him-because-of-his-religion
17. Namak, Razia Sajjad Zaheer, Chapter 16, http://epathshala.nic.in/e-pathshala-4/flipbook
18. Patna: Devotees gather in number to celebrate Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/patna-devotees-gather-in-number-to-celebrate-guru-gobind-singhs-birthday201712260408560002/
19. 350th Prakash Parv https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/350th_Prakash_Parv
20. What is Operation Blue Star? http://indianexpress.com/article/what-is/what-is-operation-blue-star
21. India vs Sri Lanka, 3rd T20I http://www.cricbuzz.com/live-cricket-scores/19198/ind-vs-sl-3rd-t20i-sri-lanka-tour-of-india-2017
22. Jallianwala Bagh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jallianwala_Bagh
23. Nigel Collett (15 October 2006). The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer. A&C Black. p. 262. ISBN 978-1-85285-575-8.
24. 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre http://www.discoversikhism.com/sikh_genocide/1919_jallianwalla_bagh_massacre.html
25. I had to fire well: Jallianwala Bagh butcher Gen Dyer’s testimony http://www.hindustantimes.com/ht-view/i-had-to-fire-well-jallianwala-bagh-butcher-gen-dyer-s-testimony/story-C68lHCuJBYfSjfBlng6XKN.html
26. The Martyr’s Well https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/today-was-the-98th-anniversary-of-jallianwala-bagh-massacre/the-martyrs-well/slideshow/58167148.cms
27. The Amritsar massacre: The origins of the British approach of minimal force on public order operations http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a512476.pdf
28. https://www.quora.com/What-was-the-article-published-in-Times-of-India-the-day-after-the-Jalianwala-Bagh-tragedy-took-place/answer/Vignesh-Ramani?srid=1jl3
29. Theresa May must apologise to India for massacre during British colonial rule, says Indian MP http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/theresa-may-apologise-india-massacre-british-colonial-rule-shashi-tharoor-jallianwala-bagh-a7395051.html
30. From 1947 to 2014: How the Indian economy has changed since independence http://www.firstpost.com/data-business/from-1947-to-2014-how-the-indian-economy-has-changed-since-independence-1983853.html
31. Poverty in India https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_India
32. India’s Economy Surpasses That Of Great Britain https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2016/12/16/indias-economy-surpasses-that-of-great-britain/#791a35633bc0

Tags :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © Tryambak Srivastava