Appealing to the Almighty in Amritsar #BlogchatterA2Z

A for Amritsar

Welcome to the first post of my AtoZ Challenge 2019. If you read my theme reveal post, you know I’ve chosen to write my travel memoirs. I’ll write on “26 Places, 26 Memories” through the month of April, one for each letter of the alphabet. These are not travelogues, in case that’s what you’re expecting. Instead, I’m recounting life events that’ve taken place during my travels. Do follow my blog and social media platforms to stay updated with all the posts.

A FOR AMRITSAR:

Amritsar is a place of great historical significance in Punjab, India. It’s the seat of the Sikh religion (which I practice), but is also home to many Hindus and Muslims, priding itself on its inclusivity. The city goes back to the 16th century and has a rich culture. My husband’s family hails from here, having moved to Delhi after the partition of India.

There’ve been many places I’ve visited that begin with the letter A, but I picked Amritsar because it’s one of my favourite cities in the world. As my husband is an Ambarsariya (person originally from Amritsar), we visit at least once a year. We love the unmatched serenity of Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple– the seat of the Sikh religion), devour the delicious food on offer, and contribute to the local economy by shopping our hearts out.

I’ve been on numerous trips to Amritsar, but today I’ll focus on one memory that stands out.

APPEALING TO THE ALMIGHTY IN AMRITSAR:

In September 2012, I met a boy who made swift inroads to my heart. The swiftness seemed romantic to me but decidedly strange to my parents! On a family trip to Amritsar a month later, to celebrate my mother’s 50th birthday; my parents began to question my sudden allegiance to a boy I barely knew. They weren’t opposed to him, but would’ve preferred me meeting other boys of their acquaintance, before forming a deep attachment to one person.

If you’ve been in a similar situation, you’d understand the dilemma. I liked the boy and I didn’t want to introduce anyone else in the mix to muddy things up.

One beautifully lit evening, I sat by the holy pool in the Golden Temple, enjoying the soothing strains of kirtan (singing of religious hymns), and prayed for clarity. I didn’t want to hurt the boy I liked, and I definitely didn’t want any confusion of mind.

Sometimes prayers are answered in unexpected ways. On returning to Delhi, we learnt that the boy my parents would’ve liked me to meet, suddenly had to leave on prolonged travels. I was free to date the boy I liked. Gradually, his respectful and caring nature, along with his traditional bearing, endeared him to my family. Our love story galloped along and we were engaged and eventually married, in a matter of months.

In hindsight, I should’ve known no one would stand a chance against the Ambarsariya 😉

So, I begin my travel memoirs invoking blessings from Harmandir Sahib. See you tomorrow for the letter B and another story!

If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my ebook “TALES FROM MY TRAVEL TREASURY: AN ALLITERATIVE ANTHOLOGY” which is a collection of my travel tales. It can be downloaded for FREE for a limited time only from this link.

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*Unless specified, all pictures are taken on my phone. Copyright belongs to nooranandchawla. Featured image courtesy: http://www.waytoindia.com.

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Amritsar in 48 Hours: Best Places to Eat

Amritsar, Punjab is a traveler’s delight. There’s plenty to see, lots to do and loads to eat! My husband’s family has their ancestral haveli in Amritsar, giving us an excuse to visit this historic city often. Over the years we’ve identified our favourite spots, and return to them tirelessly. This is a three-part series on Amritsar. The first post was on must-see places- click here to read. The second one was on Places to Shop- click here to read. This post is dedicated to my favourite Places to Eat.

Click here for all Amritsar bookings.

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All set to binge on some yummy food!!

Amritsar is a haven for foodies. With a wide variety of dishes sold at reasonable prices, one really can’t go wrong! Here’s a round-up of my favourites as well as some other popular joints.

Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner (Non-Veg NV):

Ambarsariyas may not have access to any large water body, but they sure know their fried fish! Amritsari fish is so popular, it often finds mention in Delhi restaurant and catering menus. The best fish I’ve had in Amritsar is from Makhan Fish Corner. The place also serves delicious tandoori (roasted) chicken and other non-vegetarian delicacies, but the fish hits a home run. Have it with tandoori roti or butter naan.

Address: 21A near Madaan Hospital Makhan Chowk, Majitha Road

Timings: 10:30 a.m.- 11:50 p.m.

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Amritsari fish from Makhan Fish & Chicken Corner

Beera Chicken (NV):

Looking for the best tandoori chicken in Punjab? It’s served here! Cooked to perfection, each bite is delectable.

Address: Majitha Road, Sehaj Avenue

Timings: 12:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

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Tandoori chicken from Beera da Chicken. Picture courtesy- http://www.tripadvisor.in

Surjit Food Plaza (NV):

Surjit Dhaba (as it’s locally referred to) is the one-stop shop for all things non-vegetarian. They have a decent sit-down space and an extensive menu with plenty of options for vegetarians as well. I’d highly recommend their mutton tikka, which literally melts in the mouth!

Address: No. 3-4, Ground Floor Shopping Complex, Lawrence Road, Joshi Colony

Timings: 11:00 a.m.- 11:30 p.m.

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Dinner from Surjit Dhaba- from L-R: Tandoori roti, aloo ghobi ki sabzi, dal makhani, Afghani chicken and mutton tikka

Kulchas from Maqbool Road (Vegetarian V):

A tiny stall on Maqbool road sells world-famous Amritsari kulchas. Due to their popularity, they often run out by 2 p.m. Buy them early and enjoy them as a filling brunch with the chanas (chickpeas), chutney (spicy sauce) and yoghurt that accompanies them. There isn’t much seating available here, so be prepared.

Address: Just ask for the kulcha shop on Maqbool road

Timings: First half of the day or till the kulchas run out!

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Amritsari kulchas from Maqbool Road served with chanas and chutney

Kanha Sweets (V):

My personal favourite, this diminutive space in a back lane is famous for its aloo-puri (liquid-y potatoes served with fluffy soft bread). Unlimited amounts of slightly sweet aloo (potatoes) and savoury chanas (chickpeas) are the perfect accompaniment to the fluffy, delicious puris (bread). It’s a quick yet satisfying meal. The sweet lassi full of malai is the icing on top.

Address: Dayanand Nagar

Timings: 9:30 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.

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Aloo-Puri and chanas served at Kanha Sweets

Durga Ice Cream (V):

Located near Surjit Food Plaza, the fruit cream served here is the best dessert to complete your meal. A bowl of fruit topped with dollops of cream and sugar- one can’t go wrong with their order here!

Address: 598, Lawrence Road

Timings: 10:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.

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Durga fruit cream. Picture courtesy- http://www.talkingstreet.in

Giani Di Lassi (V):

Any visit to Amritsar is incomplete without enjoying a big glass of lassi. Slightly watered down yoghurt is served with a huge serving of full-fat cream and lots of sugar. Giani is known to serve the best lassi in town. Ahuja lassi is another popular option.

Address: Giani- opposite Regent cinema, Katra Sher Singh (Gargar Mal Road)

Address: Ahuja- B. K. Dutt gate, Dhab Khatikan,

Timings: Giani- 5:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Timings: Ahuja- 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

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Giani di lassi

Kesar Da Dhaba (V):

I must confess I haven’t visited this Amritsari vegetarian joint in years, but people swear by its delicious dal makhani.

Address: Chowk Passian, near Telephone Exchange

Timings: 12:00 p.m.- 11:00 p.m.

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Thali at Kesar da Dhaba. Picture courtesy- http://www.amritsar.biz

Bharawan Da Dhaba and Brothers’ Dhaba (V):

This popular eatery was divided in two when the owner brothers fought with each other. Over the years, they’ve both managed to make a name for themselves in the vegetarian food sector. Conveniently located near the Golden Temple, you should head here for a quick and tasty lunch.

Address: Near Town Hall

Timings: 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

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Food at Brothers Dhaba. Picture courtesy: http://www.zomato.in

Crystal Restaurant:

Crystal restaurant is an iconic landmark in Amritsar. I’ve never tried the food, but their softy ice-creams were a real treat when we visited as children.

Address: Crystal Chowk, Queen’s Road, near Maharaja Ranjit Singh Nagar, Company Bagh

Timings: 11:00 a.m.- 11:30 p.m.

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Softy ice-cream at Crystal Restaurant. Picture courtesy- http://www.tripadvisor.in

Blues Bakers:

Our most recent trip to Amritsar was to celebrate my son’s second birthday. After plenty of research, we ordered a cake from this bakery, and were pleased with the result. Soft and delicious, it matched up to the best chocolate cakes I’ve had. If you place your order in advance, they gladly customize the cakes for you in any shape and size.

Address: 30, Circular Road, near Gurdwara

Timings: 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

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Birthday cake from Blues Bakers

This completes my round-up of Amritsar. Follow my blog for more travel updates!

City food rating: 5/5

Amritsar in 48 Hours: Where to Shop

Amritsar, Punjab is a traveler’s delight. There’s plenty to see, lots to do and loads to eat! My husband’s family has their ancestral haveli in Amritsar, giving us an excuse to visit this historic city often. Over the years we’ve identified our favourite spots, and return to them tirelessly. This is a three-part series on Amritsar. The first post was on must-see places- click here to read. This post is dedicated to places to shop.

Click here for all Amritsar bookings.

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Shopping for juttis!

Amritsar is a shopper’s paradise! Here are my favourite places:

Katra Jaimal Singh, near Hall Bazaar, is best known for fabrics of all kinds, with a special focus on phulkari dupattas. These gorgeous hand-woven cloths are unique to the Punjab. They are usually paired with a kurta and salwar, but can be styled in other ways too. One can find many varieties and price ranges of this and other clothing materials in this vast market.

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Katra Jaimal Singh is best for fabric shopping

Raunaq Juttis, outside Hall Gate, opposite Dargah Hazrat Baba Zahrah Peer Ji, sells closed slippers for both men and women. Though there are many jutti shops all across town, Raunaq is known to have the prettiest designs. Do try juttis on before investing, as these shoes can be notoriously uncomfortable!

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Chor Bazaar, also called Landa Bazaar, located in the Mall Road area, sells imported fabrics, and techie goods from across the border. The selection is much lesser than that of other markets like Katra Jaimal Singh, but there are some unique and stunning things on offer.

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Buy fabrics and other things at Chor Bazaar market

Papar-Warian or poppadums and other fried goods of various kinds are widely sold in Amritsar. They are quite unique with a variety of flavours and make a perfect evening snack. They are usually sold semi-baked and need to be roasted lightly before serving. The most famous shop selling these is located in Lawrence Road, opposite Arya Samaj Mandir, near BBK DAV College, Shastri Nagar, White Avenue.

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Papar-warian

Aam papad or Indian fruit leather made from mango pulp mixed with concentrated sugar solution, dried in the sun, is another favourite item. It’s sold at a little stall in front of the Government Medical College, Lawrence Road, Amritsar. The stall is unassuming and might put you off, but the wares are delicious!

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Aam papad. Picture courtesy: dishesguru.com

Bansal Sweets in Lawrence Road, Joshi Colony, sells delicious Indian mithai. They generously allow you to try their specialities before you buy. My favourites include their pinnis, moti chur ke laddoo, and patisa.

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Motichur ke laddoo. Picture courtesy: bansalsweets.in

As with other Indian tier-2 cities, there has been a proliferation of malls in Amritsar recently. I personally haven’t visited any but according to the Chandigarh Metro, the best known ones are- Alpha One Mall on Sultan Mills Suburban Main GT Road; Trilium Mall on the Circular Road; Celebration Mall in Gagan Colony; Wagah Plaza in Khandwala; and Omaxe Novelty Mall in Joshi Colony.

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Packed streets in Amritsar

Stay tuned for the next post in this series- Where to Eat in Amritsar!

City shopping rating: 5/5

 

 

 

Amritsar in 48 Hours: Things to Do

Amritsar, Punjab is a traveler’s delight. There’s plenty to see, lots to do and loads to eat! My husband’s family’s ancestral haveli is in Amritsar, giving us an excuse to visit this historic city often. Over the years we’ve identified our favourite spots, and return to them tirelessly. This is a three-part series on Amritsar. The first post is dedicated to must-visit places.

Click here for all Amritsar bookings.

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The gorgeous Golden Temple at mid-day

Harimandir Sahib/ Darbar Sahib/ The Golden Temple:

The Golden Temple is the main place of worship for followers of the Sikh religion. The third Guru or preacher of this faith, Guru Ram Das Ji, built it in the 16th century, around a sacred water body said to have healing powers. The iconic building sits in the center of the holy pond, shining like a gold beacon. Its stunning architecture and historical background make it one of the most visited sites in India and perhaps the world.

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Large crowds wait in line to enter

Large congregations are present through the day and night, and langar (community kitchen open to everyone) is served throughout. Droves of people take a dip in the holy waters. A separate enclosure allows ladies to do it discreetly. Parshad and amrit (holy water) are available for everyone, and people can donate to the gurdwara by funding the parshad (separate cash donations are also made). In spite of the large crowds, a sense of unparalleled peace and calm permeates the entire area. It’s undoubtedly one of my favourite places.

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Peace despite the milling crowds

Best time to visit: Between 7:30-10:30 a.m.

                             3:30 a.m to see the beautiful palki (platform carrying the holy book of the Sikhs) being moved.

Entry Free

No cars allowed in the area surrounding the temple

Jallianwala Bagh:

This garden is best known for the horrific act that took place here in 1919. General Dyer with a regiment of the British Army ruthlessly attacked and killed hundreds of peaceful protesters. The innocent people were protesting a draconian bill passed by the British Government ruling over India. At the time of the attack, the only passageway for escape was narrow and tiny; forcing people to either jump into a well and suffocate to death, or be shot while climbing the walls.

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Jallianwala Bagh

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Memorial structure at the Jallianwala Bagh

The park and memorial are now cosmetically beautified, but the museum on the premises and the gruesome memory of the event, provide an eerie atmosphere. It’s a must-visit for history buffs.

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The only passageway to escape was narrow and blocked by the troops

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Many jumped in to this well and were suffocated to death

Best time to visit: Weekdays as they are slightly less crowded

Entry Free

Wagah Border:

The Wagah Border marks the division between India and Pakistan. An elaborate ceremony of shutting the gates takes place every evening. When I last visited many years ago, there were a few, mostly empty, stands for people to observe the ceremony. I’m told it’s now such a popular tourist attraction, there’s no place to stand!

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The ceremony at Wagah Border. Picture courtesy: http://www.travelmax.in/2015/04/04/wagah-border-patriotism-echoes/

Best time to visit: The ceremony takes place at 4:15 p.m. in the winter and 5:15 p.m. in the summer

Entry free

The Partition Museum:

This is a relatively new addition I’ve not yet visited. By all accounts, it’s a fantastic homage to the largest mass migration in human history; when India was divided into two lands i.e. India and Pakistan in August 1947.

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The Partition Museum. Picture courtesy: http://www.traveltradejournal.com/partition-museum-in-amritsar-to-be-inaugurated-on-aug-17/

Timings: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

                Mondays closed

A 2-3 day trip is required to do justice to this wonderful city. Stay tuned for the next post in this series- Places to Shop in Amritsar!

City sight-seeing rating: 5/5

Lauding the Past, Learning from the Present, Luring the Future #AtoZChallenge

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Happy Baisakhi everyone! This Punjabi harvest festival heralds a change of season and change of mood. It is also the start of the Hindu New Year– a time to celebrate the Spring Harvest and all that is new. For us Sikhs, it has particular significance as the date when our Khalsa panth was founded in 1699.

THE ORIGINS OF THE KHALSA PANTH:

Here’s a little lesson in history, for those unaware of the origins of Sikhism. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th guru of the Sikhs, organised this hitherto peaceful religious group into a militaristic sect, to fight the gross religious atrocities and injustice meted out by the Mughal rulers. The Guru called on five men whom he christened the ‘Panj Piaras’, to act as symbols of this transition from a peaceful religious order to one that fights injustice at all cost. He also advocated the adoption of five tangible symbols that would help physically identify Sikhs, so one could turn to them for protection if needed. These symbols are known as the 5 K’s-

Kes– long hair as a marker of identity

Kanga– Comb for grooming

Kirpan– a small sword to be used as a weapon

Kaccha– a pair of shorts that would allow free movement during horse-riding

Kara– steel bangle to be worn on the right wrist, which can be used as weapon if needed

Though we have come a long way from the exigencies of those times, the Sikh religion continues to uphold its basic principles of fighting social injustice of all kind. Equality between classes, castes and genders is the bedrock of Sikhism.

JALLIANWALA BAGH MASSACRE:

Unfortunately, this festival is marked by tragedy as well. The horrid Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919 took place on this fateful day, when a large crowd of people collected to celebrate Baisakhi in a public ground, in the city of Amritsar in Punjab.

The British government ruling India at the time, feared that large congregations posed a threat to the peaceful working of their regime. Hence, they outlawed gatherings of this nature. Local people weren’t aware of these draconian laws to public freedom and met a horrific fate, when General Dyer ruthlessly gunned down hundreds of innocents. The only means of escape from the public park were jumping down a well, running through a crowded narrow entry lane, or climbing a wall to the other side. It was one of the largest unprovoked human tragedies of the last century.

The coronavirus national lockdown imposed in India, is supposed to end tomorrow i.e. April 14, and in an ideal world, Baisakhi would have been the best way to celebrate this news. However, it seems likely that lockdown will continue till the end of the month but with slight variations.

Hence, even if we can’t celebrate this festival as a community, I feel we should celebrate its spirit in true form. I believe a positive change in the coronavirus situation is around the corner, and I’m hoping this belief will manifest to reality. So, in the spirit of Baisakhi, will you join virtual hands with me to send this message out to the universe? Let’s bring our collective positive conscience together to fight this pandemic and all the chaos it has caused on various levels.

This is also my tip to beat lockdown blues today- let’s collectively put forth positive intent into the universe, to beat the virus!

I had intended to write a different post today, but I’m enjoying selecting my topics on the basis of what the day presents me. As I was inundated with Baisakhi Whatsapp messages, it seemed the right subject to write on for the day. I hope you found this post interesting and instructional.

As for my regular recommendations, here’s a book that I have loved with the letter L:

“Life of Pi” by Yann Martel is another Booker Prize winning novel, that I absolutely loved reading. This philosophical tale of survival in the most trying situations, can teach us lessons to survive the current ordeal we are all going through. I highly recommend this book and also the movie adaptation of it.

A TV show that I highly recommend:

“Lost” is a science fiction TV show that took the world by storm when it released in the mid-2000s. The show is about a group of people stranded on an island after their plane crashes. They learn to survive while navigating the strange place they are stranded in, devoid of any means of communication with the outside world. Its great production value, fabulous cast and thought-provoking storyline make it a must-watch.

A couple of blogs you should check out today include:

www.thelifeandlightblog.com written by Swarnali Nath has an uplifting series of posts during this A to Z Challenge, that will surely raise your spirits in tough times.

www.lifethrumyeyes.com written by Rakhi Mangala Parsai has a fun series on different attributes of women that contribute to making them strong and unique.

That’s it for today folks!

Do check out my daily update videos on Instagram Stories for #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer and follow me there to stay better connected. Also tell me your favourite TV Shows/ movies/ books/ bloggers with the letter L?

Laa Gon till tomorrow!

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This post has been written for the #AtoZChallenge 2020. My theme this year is #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer, where I’m journaling my thoughts during the coronavirus lockdown, and sharing numerous recommendations that will help keep your spirits up.

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*This is not a sponsored post.

**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.