Exploring Punjab On Baisakhi: Visit To The Holy City Of Amritsar
Amritsar is a city of historical and religious importance in Punjab. It grew around the Amrita Sarovar or the ‘pool of nectar’ on the land given to Guru Ram Das by Akbar the Great. The fifth Guru, Arjan Sahib designed and built the Harmindar Sahib temple popularly known as the Golden Temple on an island in the Amrita Sarovar. Amritsar is visited for sacred reasons on Baisakhi.
Memorable Baisakhi In Amritsar
Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is a historical and religious festival in Sikhism. Celebrated on 13th or 14th April every year, it is a spring harvest festival that marks the Solar New Year and also the sacredness of rivers. Baisakhi also commemorates the formation of Khalsa Panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
I boarded a Volvo bus for an overnight journey from Delhi to Amritsar. The journey started at 8:45 pm and after a comfortable ride in the luxurious semi-sleeper bus; I reached Amritsar by 4:00 a.m. I woke up with a smile as the sound of the Prabhat Pheri rode on the early morning breeze from somewhere. I remembered that it was an ancient ritual still alive in villages to welcome the daybreak with early morning (Prabhaat) rounds (Pheris).
I checked into a hotel that was just a kilometre away from the Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple to dump my bag and quickly freshen up. I reached the Golden Temple to see the Sun shower its early morning rays on the gold foil covered copper dome that gives the temple its golden look. I was mesmerised.
The energy of Baisakhi rightly called the festival of cheer could be heard as well as felt. The Golden Temple looked like a hub of devotees. It is famous as the symbol of equality and brotherhood. I covered my head in reverence. I took a dip in the Amrita Sarovar that surrounds the temple listening to the melodious voices performing the kirtan inside the gurudwara. I sat for a while looking at the blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture before I savoured the langar – kada – prasad (community meal) prepared by volunteers on the special occasion of Baisakhi.
A local fair or mela with local men and women performing the folk dance forms uplifted my spirits like never before. Bhangra was being performed by men who wore colourful kurtas, lungis and turbans. They danced in a rhythmic way to the beat of the dhol (drum). Women in colourful salwar kameez and phulkari duppattas sang as well as clapped merrily as they took turns in pairs to occupy centre stage to dance to the bolis being sung by all. I gave in to the rhythmic beats of the folk music to dance in gaiety. One needs to be patient at the Golden Temple as the queue on Baisakhi moves at snail’s pace but it is worth the wait as the divine structure is a heavenly treat once you are inside.
Jallianwala Bagh Memorial
The history behind this memorial dates back to April 13, 1919. 20,000 people had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s call for public non-violent protest against the Rowlatt Act. General Dyer had marched to the spot with a platoon of 50 soldiers and fired at the gathering without any warning.
The memorial was inaugurated by Dr Rajendra Prasad on April 13, 1961. Jallianwala Bagh is open to public on all days. You can see the Martyr’s well, into which people jumped to escape the bullets. You can also see Bullet holes on the wall within the Jallianwala Bagh.
Visit to the Wagah Border in Amritsar
It is possible to visit the Indo-Pak Wagah Border during the second half for the Beating Retreat Ceremony or the ‘lowering of the flags.’This is one of the tourist attractions of Amritsar and one can just hire a taxi by 2:30pm to reach in time for the ceremony.
What to eat?
Amritsari cuisine is famous the world over. Makki Ki Roti, lachcha paranthas, sarson ka saag with butter and lassi, Maa ki dal, Amritsari kulchas, non vegetarian dishes and desserts like kheer, gulab jamuns, halwa, etc. are just a few names that must be savoured by tourists.
Where to eat?
Kesar Da Dhaba for vegetarian food
Bharawan Da Dhaba for vegetarian food
Near Town Hall
Beera Chicken for chicken dishes
Kulcha Land for Amritsari kulchas
Instant Travel Help
Guide Map Of Golden Temple