Amritsar, the city located in India’s northwestern belt in the state of Punjab, is known for its conservative demeanor but is also full of surprises. Here delicious food, outstanding hospitality and exemplary faith towards the Golden Temple, the most revered Sikh pilgrimage site in India, is what every traveler has to experience. Amritsar is well-connected via airport, trains along government-run and private buses so that devotees and travelers can access this holy place easily. Visit solo or with friends or family, here you will definitely experience the perfect intertwining of faith and food.
The Golden Temple, as its name suggests, is plated with gold and is surrounded by the lake Amrit Sarovar or “pool of nectar”. Many people bathe in this pool, which is said to rid the body, the mind and the soul of any ailments and sins. Within the main structure of the temple, the holy book of Sikhs, also known as the Guru Granth Sahib, was installed on August 16, 1604 AD, and till today is revered in all Sikh households across the globe, including Sikh religious sites or Gurudwaras.
Inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, also known as Harmandir Sahib, you will hear spiritual Sikh chants or Gurbani, which work as a soothing balm for the soul and people seeking answers for their worries. One can find people from different classes and religions of India and outside, fascinated by the surreal power of faith, seeking blessings here every day. All devotees receive Kada Prasad (a dessert made with semolina) as offering - this tradition is followed in all Gurudwaras the world over.
In the Golden Temple, there is also a provision of Langar (food served in Gurudwaras), including healthy vegetarian food items such as lentils, vegetable curries, rice, chapati (Indian bread) and some desserts on special occasions. Sikhism emphasizes ‘the service towards all’, which can be seen in all dining halls of these Gurudwaras, where rich and poor sit together and enjoy a hearty meal made with utmost devotion and gratitude by devotees doing the voluntary service.
Outside the Golden Temple, there are several restaurants, where one can devour delicious Punjabi cuisine, popular for its rich flavours and a generous helping of ghee (clarified butter). It is said that Punjabi cuisine is incomplete without desi ghee (pure clarified butter) and coming from a Punjabi family, I can vouch for that. Some popular delicacies that you can enjoy in Amritsar include Chola Kulcha, Chota Bhatura, Butter Chicken, Tandoori Chicken, Dal Makhi-Naan, Lassi, Halwa, Kulfi and Rabri etc.
Also around the Golden Temple, you can find shops selling T-shirts, bags, shoes and other knickknacks, all reminiscent of the colourful attributes of the Punjabi culture. Female shopaholics must not miss Phulkari dupatta, a distinctive Punjabi long stole made with colourful threads, fabrics, mirrors and intricate work.
For any traveler, Amristar will be a revelation with its snail’s pace life and people’s candidness untouched by any external influence even today. Life here continues to be as unadulterated and pure as people’s hospitality towards travelers visiting their city. The whimsical intertwining of faith and food around the Golden Temple will touch your heart and encourage you to keep coming back for more. In other words, Amristar will welcome you with open arms and instantly make you feel at home.
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