This is the third post of North India bike trip. Here is the first and second post. My time in the mountains was over and I had to reach Amritsar by today evening. Packed up and left Shimla in the morning. With no traffic, Shimla to Chandigarh was a fast ride.
Took the following route for Amritsar. Shimla -> Chandigarh -> Rupnagar -> Phagwara -> Jalandhar -> Amritsar.
A major portion of the route was two lanes divider-less highway. With lots of towns and cities coming in, it burnt a good amount of time.
Ulte haath se mood jao
I remember a nice man directing the route to the highway in Chandigarh. Standing at a junction, I asked him ‘Bhaiyya Amritsar jana hai, kaunsa rasta jaayega?’’
He said ‘Yaha se sidha jao, phir ulte haath ghum jana. Aage jaakar phir se ulte haath ghum jaana. Chauda rastaa aayega waha se phir ulte haath ghumna hai. Thoda sidha jaakar ulte haath par highway aa jaayega’ I was shaking my head vigorously at every ulte haath and before he could ask me whether I got it, I fled away ?
This is how it feels to ride bike in Punjab
This was the first time I was in Punjab. The land of plains and five rivers. It was green everywhere my eyes went. Throughout the route, I saw trucks and tractors of people passing by.
Hundreds of langars running on the road. Folks would assert you to stop and have the langar prasad. They were everywhere right up to Amritsar. It was some occasion in Punjab and it was beautiful. I loved it.
By the time, I reached Amritsar the daylight was gone. Found a decent hotel for Rs. 800 on the market street which goes straight to the Golden Temple. Parked the bike safely for the night in a narrow galli. Left for the temple post bath.
Visit to Harmandir Sahib or popularly known as Golden Temple
Harmandir Sahib is the most revered Sikh temple in the world. It is grand and beautiful. The temple premise has a lake in the center and langar halls on the left-hand side of the entrance. The temple is on the right-hand side.
It’s customary for both men and women to cover their head before entering the temple. So, purchased a head scarf for Rs. 10 from the gate. Even if you do not have one, you can pick from a drum full of cloth at the entrance and drop it back when you exit.
On the right-hand side inside the temple, several rooms are filled with pathis who keep on reciting Guru Granth. I went inside the temple and sat down at the far end of the inner sanctum. It was wonderful meditating there.
The Langar of Golden Temple
Proceeded to the langar halls on the first floor. Langar Hall was a big room with several parallel lines of devotees sitting next to each other. Steel glass and plates are handed over before entering the hall. I am not sure but there were more than 3 huge halls.
The whole place is grand and it runs 24*7 with no compromise on quality. Recently, I got to know that they have shifted to completely organic prasad. This is a great news indeed.
The little piece of innovation I loved
It was interesting to see how water was served. A devotee came rolling a small Tricycle. That little Tricycle had a cylindrical steel water tank on it, similar to the one we keep in our house. A clutch like lever was connected to the tap at the bottom of the tank. He would move the cycle from glass to glass and press the lever to fill the glasses.
A small innovation, isn’t it? But it solved so many problems. They can carry enough water rolling on wheels making it easy to move between the devotee lines. They need not bend every time they serve and finally, the tap reduced the spillage. Easy to refill and easy to serve. Cool, isn’t it?
But it solved so many problems. They can carry enough water rolling on wheels making it easy to move between the devotee lines. They need not bend every time they serve and finally, the tap reduced the spillage. Easy to refill and easy to serve. Cool, isn’t it?
The food was nice. That day, I was served Roti, sabji, Rice, Dal and Kheer. I returned around 1 AM and called off for the day.
Attari-Wagah border and Jallianwala Bagh
Started my day early for Attari-Wagah border. It was a chilly morning in Punjab. Amritsar to Attari border is around 60 km. The road was 4 laned and buttery smooth. I reached Attari-Wagah border in less than two hours including breaks.
The Indian side of the border is Attari and Wagah is in Pakistan. Charm of this place is to watch the evening Flag ceremony. People flock in thousands from both the sides to see the fiery soldiers bringing down the flags and closing the gates in a mock rage.
I was short of time to be a part of the event. So, roamed around, had lunch and returned to the city. Next was Jallianwala Bagh. Jallianwala Bagh is very close to the Golden Temple, you can say just behind. Bagh was packed with the crowd.
Next was Jallianwala Bagh. Jallianwala Bagh is very close to the Golden Temple, you can say just behind. Bagh was packed with the crowd.
It has one narrow long entrance and big walls on all sides. Houses were built throughout the bagh perimeter. Bullet marks were deep and very clear on the walls on all the sides.
Shahidi Kuan is on the left-hand side from the entrance. More than 100 dead and injured bodies were recovered from this well after the massacre. A walk by the bagh is enough to imagine the brutal nature of the English people.
It was mid-noon by the time I came out of Jallianwala Bagh. Plan ahead was to pack up and leave for Agra. I had to reach Agra by Thursday anyhow. Today was Wednesday. Agra was more than 700 km. If I couldn’t reach Agra by Thursday evening, I would miss Taj Mahal as it remains closed on Friday.
So, it was me against time. Packed everything loaded the bike and vroomed on NH1. The highway was as empty as a desert. I was riding at the max speed 110-115km. Zoomed pass through Jalandhar, Khanna, Ambala. Rode 300 km for the day.
I reached the old city of Kurukshetra around 8 PM. Called off for the day. Checked into a decent hotel. Tomorrow was going to be a fast day. I had to cover around 400 km and reach Taj Mahal before it gets closed in the evening.