Saturday, August 31, 2013

Land of braves: Visit to ethnic Punjab

Catching glimpses of Chandigarh on the way to Bharathgarh- well planned sectors with disciplined site maps and green areas- I promised myself to return to explore this city. This trip we had opted for ethnic places over malls. 3 days well spent in Punjab, we had ample time to read the pulse of this state which mostly follows ideals set by Guru’s, led by Guru Nanak. Places I visited...
Bharatgarh Fort

#Bharatgarh fort is located in the banks of River Sutlej, close of Roopnagar or Roopar. Set amidst the Shivalik Ranges, this magnificent Fort of Bharatgarh was constructed in 1783 and incidentally, this is the only standing live-in fort of Punjab. There is a portion of it that has been made open to tourists in the form of a heritage home. Beautiful interiors, paintings, antique furniture and “The window” will give you immense happiness. I had the pleasure of learning the entire story with it’s historical significance from the proud heirs of this fort, my friend Bishas’s wonderful parents (Thank you for everything!).

Virasat-E-Khalsa
#Virasat-E-Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib is an hour away from Roopnagar, boasts of an enchanted museum and an old Gurudhwara. Life size paintings depicting the journey of Sikh faith with sensors attached to it, narrates the story in the headphones that is given and the theme is so well set that I was amused and couldn’t believe that museums can give us much more than what I always thought. It’s a must visit place. We visited Gurudhwara and had our meals (Langar) before heading towards Amritsar via Jalandhar. Bus conductor cheated us to grab some extra money and this journey stirred lot of thoughts in me- relevance of Gurbani (preaching of Guru Nanak) and where greediness is taking us. I’ll reserve my further comments for later.
Golden Temple

#Golden temple, Amritsar is the calmest, peaceful and one of the most well organized temple I have ever seen. Gold reflections of the temple in the lake, golden fishes at times creating those small waves, the soothing Gurbani’s sung melodiously and luckily full moon at display- I sat down and prayed at peace- one can sense God here- with some many volunteers contributing for this perfect functioning of the temple. Also, here we met cast and crew of Kannada reality show-“Indian”.

#Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar still speaks for that disastrous day when an English officer ordered his troops to open fire without any prior warning on thousands of people including women and children who had peacefully gathered on
Jallianwala Bagh
occasion of the Punjabi New Year on April 13, 1919. Marks of gunshots, well where many laid their life jumping into it, Shaheed Uddam Singh’s (One of shot the British viceroy of Punjab in London) ashes and memorial dedicated to martyrs inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru are the highlights of this place.

#Wagah Border, Indo-Pak border was definitely a sort of let down for me, 30 kms away from Amritsar. Patriotic songs were being played when I arrived at 6pm here and a large crowd with tricolor was running/jumping around. When I was about to soak this patriotic feeling, “Koi Kahe” of “Dil Chahta Hai” started playing! 6.30pm, parade started at respective side of gates of India and Pakistan. As gates opened I could hear some swear words come out for Pakistanis from a person who was sitting next to me and seemed like quite a few of them being emotionally charged. Probably to mock at the whole set up- A white bird was entering India, totally carefree, in a different level!
Wagah Border

#Bharawan Dhaba’s Amritsari Kulcha had at least a glassful of ghee, is the most famous Dhaba in Amritsar running since 1912! I went to Punjab with very different set of expectations and had to return back with unexpected experiences. I wish general public won’t just restrict their beautiful ethical culture only to their Gurudhwara’s. People were greedy for money and I saw outsiders being literally ripped off. The poor cycle rickshaw drivers were the only people who looked very honest and hardworking to me. May the God bless their tribe and let the Gurbani prevail!

[This was part of the tour. Read the complete experience here]