We arrived into Amritsar on the sleeper train from Jammu. It was 3am and we almost got off at the station before which was deserted and pitch black, luckily the train conductor ran down the train shouting “no, no next stop!”. Amritsar station was busy considering the time; full of people waiting, sleeping or offering rides but we managed the 350m to our hotel by foot. There were large boars everywhere in the street, which made a difference from cows (although plenty of those too)! The next day we saw our first Indian elephant, being ridden down a main road.
We really liked Amritsar, the tourist office gave us a great map and we walked/tuk-tuk-ed around the city. The streets are busy, but not like Delhi, and people take “no” for an answer, which is nice. We got lost in the maze of the walled city which is full of tiny streets and shopping lanes. People seem friendly here and willing to help you which is nice.
Top tip: you can find anything in the Hall Bizarre, and everything is grouped (4 shops for sandals, 5 shops for school books, 3 shops for stamps(?) etc.) we needed a lock for our bags on the sleeper train and sure enough there were 4 stalls in a row selling them.
We visited the Gobindgarh fort, the Jallianwala Bagh memorial garden, and at dusk we went to the beautiful Sri Harmandir Sahib (the world famous Golden Temple). The temple is beautiful, sitting in the centre of a pool of water, we queued to go inside and then sat on the bank where people were bathing in the holy waters as the sun set. The temple is free to enter for everyone and they feed 100,000 people daily for free, we later learnt you can also sleep there if you don’t have accommodation. This is all part of the charitable Sikh customs.
Everyone said 1 day would do for Amritsar but our next train wasn’t until 11pm so we had a second whole day to kill. We looked at the map and randomly chose a temple close to our hotel which is how we stumbled upon probably our favourite part of Amritsar: Mata Lal Devi Ji – an elaborate Hindu temple dedicated to the bespectacled female saint Lal Devi. Lal Devi was believed to hold the spirit of fertility and many people travel from around India to pray here. Hindu temples are always bright and colourful but this is something else, it was like a fun fair madhouse with mirrored rooms, huge statues of deities, doors that looked like Lion’s mouths, and a watery cave you have to crawl through to get to the shrine of Lal Devi. It was absolutely crazy and we loved it, like no other temple we have been to, we would recommend a visit to anyone in Amritsar.
Ella & Isaac xxx