Road Trip Spice up - Amritsar
Simplicity of a road trip during winters of North India
Weekends and extended holidays have been given a new meaning in the Indian Dictionary. Most families plan small get-together trips to break free and have fun in a short duration of time. Due to this increase in the trend, the number of options to explore has also increased. Especially in the northern part of India, you will find resorts in distant locations of Rajasthan, upcoming Airbnbs in hilly states, or workcation locations in an exotic destination. All that is left to set sail is a few motivated souls in the group and an agreed-upon date to travel.
In this plethora of road trip options, some heritage cities have historical roots, with an added modernization twist. Cities like Jaipur, and Amritsar which are the top 2 cities in this category, have always attracted crowds through their spiritual or historic connections. Most of us do have few options marked to cover when they are in these historical cities. Then one might ask what additionally these cities have to offer.
It is for the same reason that this road trip is a little different. The generic itinerary of Amritsar included Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, and Wagah Border, and amazing food will be the top choice for most of them. Therefore, let’s uncover some of the uncanny places and some useful tips to spice up your next road trip to Amritsar.
If you are traveling to Amritsar via Delhi NCR you cross multiple cities with some special offerings like Murthal Dhabas, Karna lake at Karnal, or the legendary city of Kurukshetra. You may plan your trip in a way that you take a food break in Murthal, some of the dhabas turned restaurants have the most mouth-watering paranthas and dishes. Karna lake is also reachable with a small detour however it may consume half of your day. Visiting Kurukshetra may take a day or so to explore, so there are multiple options for you to choose from.
We planned our trip in a way to visit the famous Rang de Basanti fort or Dohra fort in Ludhiana, it’s hardly 5 min drive off the NH1 and easily trackable through Google maps. All though it bears very less resemblance to how it was presented in the movie however it’s a good stop over and worthy of your time here. Fort’s condition is not good, it's not that maintained yet the boundary wall stands tall and you can walk on the periphery, clicking photos, and spend time enjoying the farms all around with all green fields swinging to the tunes of the winds reminding you of the typical Punjabi beauty. In the summers, you may find kids flying kites outside and having a good time.
As you leave behind Ludhiana, you can plan your next halt directly at Amritsar excluding the food and nature breaks. Amritsar welcomes you with a magnificent dome entrance and you can see that now you are entering the holy city of Amritsar. A lot of development has been done in the last few years and the city is trying to keep up with the growing population and infrastructure demands.
Major well-known attractions of the city are located near Golden temples like Jallianwala bagh, shopping sites, partition museum, and a few others. It is preferable to book a hotel near Golden temple and ensure it has car parking for safety reasons. Most of the time when roaming in the city, prefer not to take your car, otherwise, you will be spending most of the time in traffic rather than enjoying yourself. Prefer transport mediums like E-rickshaw to cover places in and around. Govt has also developed infra around the temple making it easier to walk and discover. In the end, the choice is yours.
Day in Amritsar can be planned in a way to cover Jallianwala Bagh, Partition Museum, Street food tour, Shopping can be done on the day you are reaching Amritsar. Golden temple is heavily crowded during the day, so it is most suitable to visit the temple in the early hours, preferably at 4:00 AM. Now if you are a night person then you can plan to visit late at night around 11:00 PM. Though if you plan to take a dip in the holy water then you must visit during the daytime. We made a mistake of reaching around 1:00 AM and we were unaware that the temple is closed for cleaning till 3:30 AM and it opens again around 4:00 AM. Langar services are open 24X7X365 so you need not worry if you feel hungry.
As it’s a short road trip and the next day is your day of return, what better thing to do than visit Wagah Border and kindle your patriotism? One place which had the biggest makeover has been Wagah Border. I remember visiting Wagah Border when I was 10-12 years old, there used to be a very small audience standing on one side with a sitting capacity of 100 max I guess. On the visitors/ sitting capacity ratio, it is still the same, but then you used to sit close to the beating retreat. Due to Covid, you never know when they shut down beating retreat and you just visit there for fun. So you will have to check whether the beating retreat is scheduled or not. Because that will change the itinerary as you may have to cover the Wagah border a day before as it is an evening activity.
Another place that is very near to the Wagah border and rarely visited by people is – Pul Mooran / Pul Kanjri which has a significant historic reference. It is far closer to the border than a closed Wagah border. You can see huge fencing almost 100 steps from you. The odd thing is everything looks the same on both sides of the fencing. Though there is a BSF post in front of it, they will not allow you to reach the fence. So please don’t act smart :P
Pul Kanji is said to be Punjab’s Taj Mahal as it is a symbol of love, built as a stopover from Amritsar to Lahore. It is a good stop for a photography session as well.
There are a few more places that you can cover in case you have ample time before you start your journey back. You can cover Ram Tirath Mandir, which is the birthplace of Lord Ram’s sons Love and Kush. It is again a small detour en route to Wagah Border. Another hotspot destination is Gobindgarh Fort, which has been beautifully maintained and is located only 2 km from Golden temple. And if you are looking for a short stop over to another religious site, then you may think about covering Tarn Taran, which is on the way back, and though it may take some time to cover Goindwal Sahib and Tarn Taaran Sahib here.
Many of us have been to Amritsar quite a few times and most of the time we have on our itinerary Golden temple and Wagah border. Well now for your next visit hopefully you have some more locations to cover on your next road trip and that too without extending your stay in Amritsar.
Coming up - Places for a weekend trip near Delhi NCR ;)