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Top 10 Travel Destinations Punjab

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  • Day17

    The Golden Finale

    March 10 in India ⋅ 🌙 7 °C

    We began our final day with a demonstration. No, not of the floral variety, but a ‘how to tie a turban’ dem from Jessie. Tony was volunteered and ended up with a very chic scarlet turban for our daytime temple visit. There is usually between 5 and 7 metres of cotton fabric used in every turban and to tie one is something of an art form. I had no idea there were so many versions, but I now know how individual a turban can be and some aficionados use considerably more fabric. It is mainly a male head dress, but some women also choose to wear it. Jessie was sporting a natty orange version today, as this is a celebratory colour for Sikhs and today is the Indian ‘Holi’ Colour Festival. As you may have noticed from last nights photographs of the little boys, it is customary to throw powdered paint at people in celebration. I had been warned to take something ‘disposable’ to wear in case of disaster! As a result this morning’s visit to the Golden Temple was particularly special and ultra busy. Everyone was out in their best clothes and there were some fabulous outfits on show. Indians are not frightened of colour and wear it with aplomb. We followed our route of last night and by day the contrast between the surrounding streets and the immediate Temple vicinity was even more marked. At least the rats had gone to bed! It seems incredible that the Temple is kept in such an immaculate state and yet people live in filth, throw rubbish everywhere and seem oblivious to the fact that they are existing in a health and hygiene nightmare. There seems to be little desire to clean anything up and it wouldn’t take much. They must have a very strong immune system. If you ask anyone about it the response is always ‘This is India’ with a shrug of the shoulders. The words convenient excuse come to mind? Sudhir, our guide feels that education is the key and it will gradually improve, but it could be generations.
    By daylight the Golden Temple sparkled in the sun and there were people massed everywhere. The scene was a glorious riot of colour. Jessie took us on a tour of the kitchen, where up to
    100,000 meals were to be served today, all prepared and served by volunteers. This is double the normal because of the Holi Festival. It is a very slick and organised system and no one is refused sustenance. There are four enormous halls where the people sit in rows on the floor and are served rice, chapati, dhal, a vegetable dish and water. A small amount only on a stainless steel divided platter. It dawned on me that this is less of a meal and more of a communion, which Jessie confirmed. We moved on to the kitchens, where the making of chapatis was in full swing. The dough is produced by a massive machine and volunteers shape and roll them out. This was our chance to get involved and so we did! I sat with one of my group on my right and two Indian ladies to my left. We all knew how to handle a rolling pin regardless of creed or nationality and I was pleased to have made a contribution. The chapatis were cooked over a huge griddle before heading out to feed the ‘five thousand’. Then there was the washing up! Oh my God, the racket, as the platters crashed against one another in the two 200ft long water troughs and thence into racks. Men washed up in one trough and women in the other. I was slightly concerned at how often the water was changed, but as we were not eating, let it pass!
    We slowly made our way out of the kitchens, past people industriously chopping garlic, onions and multiple vegetables, into the sunlight to walk around the sacred pool one last time. To our amazement all age groups wanted to have their photographs taken with us and it was a slow but friendly path to the exit gate. On our way back to collect our shoes we came across three young guys covered head to toe in Holi powder paint. We laughed with them and took a photo, at which point Lesley and I were ‘attacked’; Lesley coming off a little worse than me, but it wasn’t disastrous, just fun. It has been a real honour to have visited the Golden Temple another of India’s world class monuments and a fitting finale.
    Our day concluded with a visit to the Summer Palace of the last Maharajah of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh (all Sikhs have Singh in their surname). This is the man who paid for the 24 carat gold coating of the Golden Temple and the original owner of the Koihnoor diamond. There is some controversy here as to how it came into the hands of Queen Victoria, but it is at least displayed for all to see cut into two in the Imperial Crown and the sceptre. The summer palace and garden need a considerable amount of restoration, which is now being undertaken. Local lads were playing cricket on a dirt pitch - no wonder they can handle spin. You will see this everywhere and cricket is undoubtedly the national game. On our way back to the coach we came across an Indian version of a pop up lolly shop, if you can call it that and stopped to watch. A large block of ice is shaved on very sharp embedded blade, moulded into the lolly shape and then natural flavourings of lime, lemon and orange poured over it in syrup form. Ingenious and the equivalent of 20pence.
    And so, inevitably we were back to the hotel to commence the big pack up for the long journey home. It is hard to sum up the last two and a half weeks in mere words. Our group have been friendly and great fun and we have enjoyed sharing this experience together. The organisation has been faultless. India is a culture shock to the westerner and you need to observe, accept and not judge its centuries old traditions. It is a land of immense contrasts in every respect, with an ethos all of its own. Ninety five percent of marriages are still arranged, the caste system is still all encompassing and as a western woman it is hard to handle the inequality between the sexes. A woman still cannot attend her husband’s funeral. The senses are assaulted on every level. It is colourful, challenging, full of beauty, artistry, squalor and at times overwhelming. I can honestly say, this trip has been a risk worth taking: we have stayed well and loved every minute of it. I am so grateful to have had the chance to have just touched the surface of this fascinating country. There is seriously nowhere like India! Thank you Lesley for coming with me. Something so beautiful is always better shared.
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  • Day16

    Amritsar and the Golden Temple

    March 9 in India ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Here we are after two and half glorious weeks in India at our final port of call, Amritsar. Our day started early, yet again, and we caught the 5.30 am train from Chandigarh to Amritsar, which is a 4 hr journey. Drinks and snacks are constantly offered, from tea and coffee, cold omelettes, vegetable patties, biscuits and crisps. Note that British Rail cannot manage a drinks trolly! I have to say I avoided everything bar the crisps, as they were outside my ‘safe’ category, but they were available. We alighted on to a heaving platform at Amritsar and slowly made our way out of the station accompanied by a couple of cows strolling along amidst the crowd. No one took a blind bit of notice, even when one of them anointed the platform in their honour!
    The evening saw us depart for the evening ceremony at the Golden Temple. Amritsar is the centre of The Sikh religion which is approximately 500 years old and believes in equality between genders, kindness and charity to all and welcomes everyone, regardless of religion, to their holy temple. We travelled as far as possible by coach and then by mad rickshaw, to within walking distance. The streets are dark and thronged with people, particularly bearing in mind it is the Holi Festival tomorrow, so all Sikhs that can, wish to worship at the temple. It is unsurprisingly an enormous complex and you enter the inner sanctum through a arched gateway, barefoot and modestly covered, including the head for both men and women, via a shallow foot bath.The archway is deep and stepped and when you arrive at the top of the steps there before you glitters the 24 carat golden temple in its sacred pool. It is a quite unbelievable sight, especially lit up at night. ‘Jessie’ our guide (name too long and complicated to pronounce!) explained all that was going to happen and some of us stood in the holy water, whilst taking in the sight of the faithful at worship, some prostrate, others immersing themselves in the pool. There were beautifully decorated prayer rooms all around the waters edge, where elders were reading aloud from the holy scripture and the white marble that is everywhere underfoot is cool to the feet. On Jessies’s instruction we headed to the temple itself, to witness the parade of the original holy scripture (Sri-Gur Granth Sahib) to its place of rest for the night, (it is a four poster bed!) amidst much chanting and veneration. The temple itself is even more beautiful in reality than from photographs, the interior heavily decorated with gold and painted surfaces, golden doors, jewel coloured carpets and stunning chandeliers, over two floors. Again, to our surprise, we were allowed full access. The Sikh religion is certainly inclusive. To our amazement, once the Holy Book was put to bed for the night, out came the Brasso! I should explain that there are brass vessels, railings and handrails everywhere and volunteers set to with a will to clean any brass in sight. This is apparently a nightly task, as is the brushing and beating of the carpets. By the time we came to exit the temple complex and reclaim our shoes, pilgrims were bedding down for the night, in alcoves and anywhere they could find, directly on to the marble floor with a thin blanket covering. This is perfectly acceptable and they must be a hardy breed, as it cannot be comfortable. We returned to our hotel elated at having witnessed such a ceremony and with the prospect of more to come tomorrow.
    Today was Lesley’s birthday and it was certainly a day with a difference. We had a glass of something sparkling ( not the best in truth) and had our photograph taken to mark the occasion
    (again not the best, but at our age when is it !?).
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  • Day254

    Let's take the train

    May 10, 2018 in India ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    We could write an article about the booking system, waiting lists and the numerous classes because this is where the adventure 'taking a train in India' actually starts. But we were lucky that our tickets got confirmed just in the night before the departure day and we could still reach the station (we had booked different trains from different stations on different dates to increase our chances of getting a ticket - Indian holiday season was starting and trains are booked months in advance so that you usually end up on waiting lists).

    But how to take bicycles on an Indian train? We had heard different stories: Book it as luggage and put it in the luggage cart, book it as freight so that it would travel on a different train, just take it with you in your cabin. The first two options were not possible at the minor train station we had chosen, the staff there appeared helpless. We didn’t like these options anyway, so we had to go for the last one (which is not allowed...).

    Waiting at the station became endless, we got there around noon to check it out, the train was supposed to depart in the late afternoon and we were still sitting there in the darkness, our bicycles prepared (handlebars turned, pedals removed to make them as slim as possible), our panniers stuffed into rice sacks.

    And then the thrill began: With more than 5 hours delay, the train arrived (not only the Deutsche Bahn has timing issues... although the Indian railway network is the largest in the world, with trains traveling for days in one direction, what are 5 hours then?). We had exactly 2 minutes, there were no lights at the station, we had to find the right cart, running, a hustle and bustle everywhere and then we found it, maybe a minute was over, maybe more? While Silke was shouting at the guys who were hanging out in the entrance to help her getting the bikes and bags in, Hauke had to run back to get the big rice sack (it was too much to carry it in one run). When Hauke reached the sack, the train started to move, „Run, Forest, Run!“. Silke was keeping the door open when the rice sack flew in first, and after that Hauke.
    We’re complete, we made it, we’re on board, yeah!

    Solely the conductor was not amused... but what could he do? Thus, he guided us to our beds (!) and after a while our excitement decreased and we dropped off to sleep...

    We woke up in another state, hello Himachal Pradesh! We decided to jump off the train one station before our final destination because a large lake appeared on our map nearby, and doing so, we also avoided another Indian metropolis.

    Taking a train in India is a remarkable experience, especially overnight in an air-conditioned sleeper class, and without bicycles... But now we know how to (not?) do it :)
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  • Day4

    Attari - Grenze Indien / Pakistan

    November 1, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    An diesem Grenzübergang wird allabendlich eine Grenzparade abgehalten. Sie ist, vor allem für die Einheimischen, ein großes Spektakel.
    Für uns war es befremdlich den Eingang zum Gelände für "Ausländer" zu nehmen un damit einen bevorzugten Eintritt sowie eine schnellere Sicherheitskontrolle zu bekommen. Außerdem gibt es für Ausländer eine extra ausgewiesene Tribüne.Read more

  • Day90


    December 18, 2016 in India ⋅ 🌫 19 °C

    Amritsar beviel ons enorm! De stad staat gekend om twee dingen. Enerzijds de prachtige 'Golden Temple', het mekka van het Sikhisme (een interessante religie die rond openheid en gelijkheid draait). Elke dag wordt er eten voorzien voor 100.000 mensen door vrijwilligers! Anderzijds het heerlijke eten :). We konden een foodtour dan ook niet links laten liggen! Verder bezochten we ook een crazy tempel die meer leek op een hindernissenparcours dan een heiligdom (zie Laura's elegante pose).Read more

  • Day407

    She is from my country

    September 25, 2016 in India ⋅ 🌫 31 °C

    “She is from my country!” Roept het meisje (of jongetje?!) met knot op het voorhoofd dat op mij af komt rennen op het station van Jalandhar. Jandaan staat in de rij om kaartjes te kopen. Het meisje - dat toch een jongetje blijkt te zijn, maar een knot draagt omdat hij een Sikh is (google maar eens) - is erg blij mij te zien tussen alle “vreemde” Indiërs. Hij woont namelijk in Perth in Australië en dit is pas zijn tweede keer in India. Zijn ouders komen achter hem aan. Het gezinnetje van drie is in India om hun familie te bezoeken voor een week en ze zijn zo aardig om ons ook uit te nodigen.

    Wat we wisten: iets met ‘cousin’, platteland, en “familie vindt het leuk”. We krijgen tijdens reizen vaker uitnodigingen van vreemden en het is dan zaak om binnen een korte tijd een inschatting te maken. Kunnen we dit vertrouwen, wat zijn de intenties van deze persoon, worden we er niet ingeluisd en zijn we dan niet die naïeve buitenlanders die te naarstig op zoek zijn naar een lokale authentieke ervaring?
    We besloten te vertrouwen.

    En zo stappen we een paar uur later in het donker in een auto bij twee mannen die we niet kennen, geen Engels spreken, grote zwarte baarden en een tulband dragen, en een dolk om hun bovenlijf hebben hangen. Best even spannend kan ik je zeggen. De twee mannen blijken de broer en neef van onze gastheer Suba te zijn en al twee uur buiten het hotel waar we aan het wachten waren, gepost te hebben voor onze veiligheid en convenience.

    Een week hebben we bij de familie gelogeerd en een betere inwijding in de Indiase cultuur, het leven op het platteland, en enorme gastvrijheid hadden we niet kunnen ervaren. Wanneer ik vanuit onze kamer naar buiten het hoekje om kijk, kijk ik recht in de ogen van de waterbuffels in de stal. Jandaan blijkt beter in koeien melken te zijn dan ik. In de ochtend rijden we met de hele familie op de waterbuffelkar naar het lapje grond, waar de broer avondeten en ontbijt voor de koeien maait, en wij een duik in het zwembad nemen (1 vierkante meter). Met beide moeders (de familierelaties zijn te ingewikkeld om uit te leggen, meerdere personen zijn door familieleden onderling geadopteerd) kunnen we niet praten in het Engels, maar knuffels, blessings en warme blikken zijn er genoeg. Elke dag Indiase masala thee met melk recht uit de koe. De kinderen hoeven een dag niet naar school speciaal omdat wij er zijn. Lekker spelen in de 40 graden ;)

    Een anekdote als metafoor voor de Indiase cultuur en politiek. Voor Suba is het belangrijk om tijdens zijn aanwezigheid van een week politiek te bedrijven in het dorp. Om de positie van zijn familie in het dorp te verzekeren, de aankoop van de bakstenen voor zijn nieuwe huis veilig te stellen, de eer van zijn familie te verdedigen en nog veel meer wat wij waarschijnlijk niet kunnen bevatten. Dit doet hij door allerlei bezoekjes te brengen aan belangrijke mannen en beleefdheden uit te wisselen. Wij gaan mee als een soort van schattige maar rare mascottes uit het buitenland. We roepen wat Indiase woordjes die we geleerd hebben en lachen lief. Dan gaat het gesprek over zaken verder.

    Op een ochtend zijn we op bezoek bij een regionaal politiek leider.
    Jandaan: “Suba, can you please translate for me?. I want to know whether your friend has national political ambitions as well”
    Suba vertaalt: “Jandaan says he thinks you should go for national politics as well, that you would do a great job, and he gives you his blessings”.
    De man is erg vereerd. En wij hebben ons lesje Indiase cultuur en politiek binnen.
    Alles draait om hiërarchie, respect, je plek kennen, en veel, heel veel blessings uitspreken voor alles en nog wat. Daar heeft de Nederlander een hoop te leren om te integreren en succesvol zaken te doen.

    Na een week nemen we afscheid van de familie. We zijn altijd welkom in het dorp en bij de familie. Het was een hele bijzondere ervaring die we niet snel zullen vergeten. Dank jullie lieve familie!

    PS deze post heeft even op zich laten wachten maar we zijn zeker van plan te blijven posten. Liefs uit Chicago!
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  • Day88

    Random Post: Straatfauna in India

    December 16, 2016 in India ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    Hierbij een kleine impressie van wat we in India op straat tegenkomen! Duizenden straathonden, koeien die chillen in het midden van de drukste wegen, kameel & kar, zwijnen die in hopen afval wroeten en apen die maar al te graag je eten stelen!

  • Day313

    Pakistanische Luft schnuppern

    May 28, 2018 in India ⋅ ☀️ 42 °C

    Die Wagha Grenze trennt Indien und Pakistan. Laaannggweilig, könnte man meinen. Aber allabendlich wird Indern, Touristen und Pakistani auf der anderen Seite eine fast schon groteske Show geboten.

    Die Zuschauer füllen ein ganzes Stadion....zumindest auf indischer Seite. Die Pakistaner scheinen nicht so scharf auf die Parade zu sein.

    Es startet mit flaggenschwenkenden und dann wild tanzenden Frauen, angefeuert von der johlenden Masse. Dann kommen die Soldaten. Sie tragen witzige Federhüte und schaffen es Ihre Beine beim Maschieren senkrecht in die Luft zu werfen. Das kommt schon Akrobatik gleich. Gespiegelt, aber ein ganzes Stück weniger, agieren die Soldaten auf der pakistanischen Seite. Und so wird hin und her marschiert, die Flaggen werden gehisst, miteinander verknotet und wieder abgenommen, die Grenztore werden geöffnet und wieder geschlossen und das Publikum schwenkt Fähnchen und isst Eiscreme.

    FUNNY! 😂
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  • Day313

    Ein Temple ganz aus Gold

    May 28, 2018 in India ⋅ ☀️ 40 °C

    Sri Harmandir Sahib oder auch der goldene Tempel in Amritsar, ist eines der wichtigsten Heiligtümer der Sikhs.

    Tausende bunte Pilger kommen jeden Tag hier her und baden im heiligen Wasser rund um den Tempel.
    Eintritt, Gepäck- & Schuhaufbewarung, Trinkwasser und sogar ein Schlafplatz sind kostenlos. Und ein einfaches Essen (Paste aus Mehl, Öl und Zucker) wird für ein paar Cents angeboten.

    Die gesamte Atmosphäre ist besonders. Alles ist sehr sauber und ruhig. Leider konnte ich diese Ruhe nicht so richtig genießen. Als einziger Tourist weit und breit durfte ich Babys halten und die Familienfotos verschönern. Als ich saß hat sogar jemand meine Füße berührt und sich danach "bekreuzigt/gesegnet". Scheint so, als ob ich Glück bringe 😊.
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  • Day50


    January 23, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    We flew to Amritsar. In Amritsar there's really only one place to visit, and that's the Hamandir Sahib or Golden Temple. It is the holy and cultural center of Sikhism and a profoundly beautiful place. Tranquility in architectural form. Entry is through four opposing gates representing a welcome to all people of faith from all directions.

    We first extended our knowledge of Sikhism in Gent when we visited a Gurdwara and met with a British expat who had lived for 6 years at the Golden Temple. A Gurdwara is any place where the Guru Granth Sahib or holy book is kept. Sikh's believe that the way to follow a good life is to:

    keep God in heart and mind at all times

    live honestly and work hard

    treat everyone equally

    be generous to the less fortunate

    to serve others

    The temple history museum was another learning experience. Depictions of early and later martyrs. It also noted the attack on innocents by the British Raj Commander Dyer that led to the fall of British rule. It also depicted the storming of the temple by Indian troops in that killed over a thousand Sikhs, men, women, and children among them. A wall of names has been put up that one passes through when exiting the museum.

    In Amritsar we spent several nights in a really nice hotel and with really good breakfast and felt renewed. Granted, heading out into Amritsar still brought the intensity of India right back, but the hotel and our visits to the temple soothed.

    We realized why walking is such an impacting event here. The broken infrastructure, lack of sidewalks, use of property right up to the edge of the road, and tons of people, cows, dogs, and pigs make things difficult. There's also the constant blaring of horns and pounding of various metals. Plus, women in particular, don't walk if they can ride. It's just not done. We've received plenty of concerned (judgemental?) stares as we've visited cities in the north. Amritsar is particularly odd for us because looking cross or deeply serious is the natural way to be here. It's only after starting a chat that the smiles and glint of the eyes appears. Certainly not while walking through their day to day.

    Nancy though continues to astound. She headed out solo a few times to visit the temple while I was in respiratory recuperation from the Varanasi air. What a trooper.

    My highlight at the temple was joining the Langar, a simple vegetarian offering of a communal to 100,000 people every day. We sat with people with whom we shared no common language and still managed to have a pleasant and friendly dinner conversation. The best!

    As we left the temple that night we chanced upon some workers doing decorative inlay on marble. They were working by streetlight on pieces destined for repairing sites on the temple grounds. It was captivating watching them work and talking with them about the craft. They said that they were all from Agra had come to Amritsar for the work.

    Oh, and one more thing. We went to the border crossing between India and Pakistan to see the closing of the gates. But that's an entry on its own.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

State of Punjab, Punjab, بنجاب, Pəncab ştatı, Штат Пенджаб, Пенджаб, पंजाब, পাঞ্জাব, པན་ཇབ།, Panjab, Paňdžáb, ޕަންޖާބު, Παντζάμπ, Panĝabo, Punyab, Pandžab, پنجاب, Penjab, પંજાબ, פנגאב, Púnjab, パンジャーブ州, პენჯაბის შტატი, ಪಂಜಾಬ್, 펀자브 주, Panjaba, Pandžabas, Pendžāba, Пенџаб, പഞ്ചാബ്, Панжаб, पञ्जाब, पञ्जाब राज्य, Panjab i India, ପଞ୍ଜାବ, ਪੰਜਾਬ, Pendżab, पञ्जाबराज्यम्, Pandžáb, Панџаб, பஞ்சாப், పంజాబ్, Панҷоб, รัฐปัญจาบ, 旁遮普邦

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