How I met my God-sent family?
Once we got into the train, we were all trying to settle in our seats. I was helping people in arranging their luggage. That's when we started talking and introducing ourselves(Where are we heading to and all those basic conversations). People around me couldn't believe that am from Tamil Nadu as I speak good Hindi (Yeah..I learnt to speak in 6 Indian Languages only to communicate with the people around me). We were talking and talking and talking... till we fell asleep. The train was supposed to reach Amritsar by 9 am but reached very late. We took an auto rickshaw from the station and on our way, our driver arranged the room and taxi for us. Though it was not the best, we didn't have any choice left out. We reached the hotel around 1pm.
We didn't have enough time left before leaving and quickly we got refreshed (literally changed clothes..lol). Then booked a cab to the Wagah Border & left around 2:30 pm.
It took us almost an hour and 15 mins for us and we reached there by 3:45 pm. Since, it was the Year-end Holidays season, there were a huge crowd of people. We had to rush so that we were able to get ourselves seated in a good location to witness the full ceremony. It was an open Auditorium and yes, we did get seats. But as and when the ceremony began, people started standing up in their own seats and we also ended up standing up every now and then.
The Retreat Ceremony
What happens in the ceremony? The Wagah - Attari Border Ceremony, more popularly known as Beating Retreat Ceremony, was started in 1959. The purpose of "Wagah Border Ceremony" is to formally close the India-Pakistan border for the night and take-off the National Flag of both nations. The Flag Lowering Ceremony is done daily by the BSFs (Border Security Forces) before sunset. And, this happens everyday.The retreat ceremony starts at 5:15 pm in the summer and 4:15 pm in the winter season. The total time duration of the ceremony is 45 minutes.
Is there any ticket for the Ceremony?
No, there is no ticket for Wagah border and you do not need any pass to watch the ceremony as it is free and open for everyone. But, one should reach at least an hour before to get proper seats because it is usually crowded with 10,000 people everyday. The entrance to the venue is open from 10 am to 4 pm.
Retreat Ceremony got over by 5:15 pm and we left back to our hotel in the same taxi we booked earlier. On our way back we saw the Sadda Pind - a Punjabi Culture Living Village Museum to experience authentic culture, colours and flavours of Punjab in one place. We entered @ 6:30 pm with a ticket fee of Rs: 750/- per head with food. I must admit, the food was so delicious and me being a hardcore Punjabis-admirer & a North-Indian by heart couldn't resist to gulp in a lot of food at the restaurant. Even before the proper dining, we were roaming around the museum and happened to taste flavours of different communities of Punjab such as Chatti di Lassi, Makki di Roti and Sarson da saag. And yes! Lots of Photography Sessions too. After filling our tummies, we left the place around 8:30 pm to our room.
Our Hotel Room
We reached the hotel by 9:30 pm. You won't believe me, I was supposed to stay with a family somewhere in the interior of Amritsar. I had a booking through Couchsurfing for 3 days and my own itenary to roam around as a Solo female Traveller. But God had other plans for me and introduced this family. Since the time we met, they didn't leave me alone (in a good way though). They treated me like their family member. We stayed in the same room.
After relaxing ourselves for sometime, we were all excited to visit the Gurudwara at night. So, we took bath (first one for the day..lol) and reached the Gurudwara in 7 minutes as it was
easily walkable from the hotel.
The Golden Temple
Awww... Love at first sight! Yes.. My first view of the Golden Temple. I was mesmerised by the beauty with lights. The Golden Temple amidst the lightings and the reflection in the water was such a wonderful treat to our eyes. As I said earlier, I was planning to visit the Harmandir Sahib since so many years and happened to get the chance only then. I don't have enough words to express my Gratitude and feeling I had over there. I never felt the winter chills on my feet, instead I was completely in a spiritual feeling. Went around the temple, prayed, took so many beautiful pictures.
We left by 10:30 pm after having a langar (free food offered at the temple premises 24x7 for 365 days). After reaching the room, we were al chatting for sometime and slept so that we could wake up at 3:30 am for the Palke Darshan ( The Sikh Book carried around the Gurudwara in the early hours of every morning). And it was also Uncle & Aunty's Wedding Anniversary the next day. So they had plans of taking a holy dip in the temple before the Darshan.
Merry Christmas at the Gurudwara!!
It was on December 25th and the world was celebrating Christmas and we were at the Gurudwara having a calm, serene experience after that ice cold Holy dip. Our our early morning Darshan, we went back to the room for taking a small nap.
We went to the Gurudwara again around 10:30 am and were roaming around the temple after having a proper langar and Chai/Bread.
Katra Kanhaiya Market
What is a trip without any shopping? Right!? This was not in my itenary before. I didn't want to part ways with them so soon. So, I went along with them to the very famous Katra Kanhaiya Market. They were checking out suits and Phulkari Dupattas for them and their relatives. Even I wanted to buy few for my sister and best friends. As I said earlier, they didn't let me spend a single penny ever since we met. Now you know what would've happened! Yes, they gifted me a gorgeous Orange Phulkari Dupatta.So, I couldn't buy anything for anyone as I didn't want to pay for that as well. We went back, packed, had photo sessions, transfers, room check-out. All done!
My God-sent family were leaving the same day to Ludhiana to meet their extended family as they were gonna catch up after 10 years. So, I had to look for my stay for the next day. Before every trip I do a lot of research about the place, people, where to stay and what to explore. I know there are free stays inside the Gurudwara itself which is free and safe. So went there to register a place for me that night.
I did get a slip for the same and left back to the room to send off my family.
After they left for the station, I had other plans of exploring the city and headed to keep my luggages in the Gurudwara Locker.
The Tragedy :(
As I headed to submit my luggages, I was put on with so many enquiries as if I ran away from my home. Lol. It might seem funny now but it was hectic for me at that to keep roaming between buildings with my luggages. Only after all these hours of walking and running, I got to know that the Gurudwara stay is only for Aged women or women who doesn't have a family. They would be given just 2 blankets to sleep on the floor. That's why I was denied the stay. Finally, I found a way to submit my bags at the general locker for Pilgrimages. Walked out and got into a battery-powered auto rickshaw for a day package.
Now, its time to explore Amritsar!
To be continued...