Amritsar Trip Report

#1 Jun 28th, 2007, 07:48
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#1
I visited Amritsar for about 5 days in June, primarily to make some images of the Golden Temple. This is a very short report of my observations, but happy to answer any questions. I have some images posted at http://www.noexpectations.com.au/images/Amritsar0607

Getting there
I live in Singapore, so the regular direct flight to Amritsar makes this very easy.

Accommodation
I knew I was going to be visiting the temple a lot, and at all different hours so I wanted to stay very close. I elected to stay at the CJ International which is just across the road from the main temple entrance. Rooms were clean (I took an A/C room), the staff pleasant. No issues to report. I had a basic breakfast in the hotel, didn't try any other meals there.

Eating
Five day trips are challenging: not enough time to explore too much and I'm less inclined to take too many risks on a short trip. There aren't too many restaurant choices in Amritsar. Crystal Restaurant (about 20 rupees in a rickshaw from the temple) is by far the best. Given it was 42 degrees I did certainly try most of the ice cream bars :-)

Golden Temple
Amazing place for sure. I spent many hours there at all times of day just sitting and reflecting, or talking to people, or exploring wherever a non-sikh can go. My greatest joy was sitting on the roof of one of the annex buildings at 4:00am talking to some of the guys who work there watching the sun come up. There are some other places you can get to, but I think this is the best view of the sarovar and the temple. Its not obvious how you get there and its not an "official" place to visit, but drop me a line if you're heading that way. You can also walk up to the top floor of the Langar for a good view - and you'll meet some interesiting people there too.

On the weekend the place is mobbed with Sikh pilgrims at all hours of day and night (its also the coolest place in Amritsar, so everyone goes there to have a rest). On Monday and Tuesday nights its less crowded and more contemplative.

As always, the people were most hospitable. Visit the Langar kitchen and have a chat with the cooks, eat a meal in the Langar and chat to your neighbours, all good fun and educational.

I had planned to stay in a Gudwara but with a lot of camera and computer gear I elected not to do that (no way to secure the items). Next time perhaps. There was no Gatka going on that I could find during my visit.

Wagah
In summer the border ceremony happens at 630. I took a car to get there at 530 and there must have been 5000 people there already. There are stand built to hold the audience but access to the stands is poor and the crush to get up the stairs when they open is life-threatening. And when you get there the view is poor. Others who stayed at the bottom and congregated on the road new the gate reported a better view.

Nevertheless a great experience. Tons of national pride, flag waving, singing. Lots of colour and motion as you would expect - especially since women and men are in separate stands so the colour of the saris in the womens stand is fantastic.

Regards,

--Kip
#2 Jun 28th, 2007, 09:16
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  • Nick-H is offline
#2
This is an amazing, and perhaps unique report.

Consider the itinerary requests that we get... can I visit 18 places in 20 days? sort-of-thing; here is a man not only concentrating on one city, but one building even!

OK, it was a relatively short trip, and I guess that, in a way, it was a business trip, but the depth of engagement in that limited itinerary shines through!

Each to their own, and travelling has its own charms and adventures; not everybody is the same, and not every trip has to be the same. Obviously people who come for some purpose such as study get the same-place experience.

It is something I certainly recommend. India became an utterly different experience for me when I came for 5 weeks in the same place

Mind you, now I've been one year in the same place without going out-of-town, I'm getting itchy feet!

Thanks for the report, Kip.
#3 Jun 28th, 2007, 09:28
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#3

Just one place at a time

Nick, that's a thoughtful observation. Actually, in this case it wasn't even a business trip. But the more I travel the more the quality of the experience is related to the people in their own context. Slowing down, and often stopping, to give myself the time to be part of where I am, not just a transient.

For example, on this trip I took a portrait of Mr. Singh (hardly unusal in the Punjab you'd agree!).

I found Mr. Singh in a decidedly non-tourist part of Amritsar, sitting in his woodworking shop. We sat an talked for about an hour or so and I learnt about his growing up in Burma, going to Miss Bromich's school in Rangoon on a boat, trolley and walk. Of leaving at the age of 12 with his mother when Japan invaded Burma and being the son (first son stayed longer in Burma with the father) having to find the old property owned by the family. 12 years old, first time to India, having to be the head of the family. We talked about Partition, curfews in the Pubjab, the issues facing Sikhism and younger generations...

We talked about a lot of things but to me this is the essence of the travel experience, and I also hope it shows a little in the portrait I took of him.

There is so much of India I have not seen, but I think I'll continue to see it one place at a time (which is not what I did when I was younger for sure).

Cheers, --Kip
#4 Jun 28th, 2007, 09:42
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#4
well mind you one thing, Amritsar is one of the best cities in the world to enjoy, people and hospitality.

Arguably it is one the cheapest cities as well, the food is amazing, you just need to explore a bit, it still remember few years back four of us, ate to our hearts content, couple of dals, aloo gobhis and lot of cucumber salad, I did'nt even count the rotis...and we paid only Rs.48, all the food was made with pure Ghee and loads of butter was floating around..

Even though I guess it was more than a decade back but still the amount was not even the half of what we were expecting to pay..
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#5 Jul 3rd, 2007, 02:44
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#5
Just came across this thread.............i must say loved your Pic's. Congrats Kip
#6 Jul 3rd, 2007, 03:28
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#6
thanks for the trip report, and lovely photos! reading and looking at the pictures is making me wish i could go everywhere on my next trip, alas, amritsar is at the opposite end from where i am concentrating my time.
#7 Jul 3rd, 2007, 03:31
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#7
Absolutely beautiful photos Kip.

I totally agree with Nick that whistlestop tours of any place are a sure recipe for frustration and tiredness. It was great to see a thoughtful plan and to see that you received so much from your brief visit.

I hope to see more of your photos from future trips here soon.
#8 Jul 4th, 2007, 21:28
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#8
Excellent pictures.
#9 Jul 10th, 2007, 02:11
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#9
People are great there ! they love to eat and interact. I lost my way and with my big car..i was in middle of the road when I felt confusion which way to turn to. When I stopped...there were three people standing near me..telling me which way to go.

I am all praise for AMRITSAR...great city and great vibe !!

Kipcole9 ! You wrote fantastic report and it shows your maturity and insight. SO thanks to share your words with us...I wish more and more could read them. Most people are in hurry to GO THROUGH....all places...all cities..perhaps to tell back home that they had SEEN all and HAD VISITED all those places But very few had experience like yours.

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