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Old 13th April 2019, 07:47   #1
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Default Amritsar & Dharamshala - Spirituality 101

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There are some places which tempt us to make a visit solely on the curiosity and wonder it engrave in our minds. It may be something you have read or heard which sparks the itch for these places. In this case, I am really not sure about the exact event which triggered my longing for Amritsar and Dharamshala. It might be the sheer fascination about the Golden Temple and its selfless volunteers, or how a country like Tibet which has lost its existence is being administrated from a place in India or even the hype surrounding the Wagah border.


For a mountain person, if you reach Delhi you will be treated with several options to satisfy your wanderlust; thanks to its proximity with the mighty Himalayan range. It was once when I was searching for tickets to Delhi, I stumbled upon a good deal for Mumbai - Amritsar flight. It was something which I could not afford to slip through. With just about a week in our disposal, discussions started about places to be considered in our itinerary. With the presence of a toddler in our group, it was a no-brainer to go for a laid back place. That coupled with my inquisitiveness made Dharamshala added to our itinerary in a blink.


Note: I took this journey in April 2018 and all the photographs were captured using my humble Mi A1 which would rather sleep during a debate on low light image quality.


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No trolley bags to hold us back.


Day One: Mumbai - Amritsar, Jallianwala Bagh, The Golden Temple.


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Day One: There was not much travelling involved on the first day.


After an uneventful two and a half hour flight from Mumbai, we landed in Amritsar around 3:40 PM. We had our rooms booked with Treebo Dee Intercontinental which shares its vicinity with both Jallianwala Bagh and Harmandir Sahib a.k.a the Golden Temple. Once we reached our hotel, we came to realize that the aforementioned fact is the only thing this hotel could boast of.



A quick nap rejuvenated our spirits and soon we started our walk towards the Jallianwala Bagh. Here you would find several options for street foods on the route approaching the memorial. We had tried some and found most of them delicious. In fact, it could be considered as a common trait of Punjab during the course of our journey.


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The infamous narrow entrance to the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial.


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The lest we forget.


The tragedy at Jallianwala Bagh was one of the topics in our history class during school days and like any other topic, we memorized it for the sake of exams. All of that had to change on that memorable evening; it was truly magical.


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I admit. I felt ashamed for not knowing about this legend.


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And the legend himself.


The stories, especially that of Udham Singh and Ratan Devi gave us chills down our spines.


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Martyrs Well. A teardrop on the cheek of time.


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The bullet marks from one of the darkest hours in the history of our country.


After spending some quality time in the garden, we advanced towards the golden temple. Many e-rickshaws which offered back-breaking rides plied between the Jallianwala Bagh and the Golden Temple. Once we had got into one of those, we instantly regretted our decision. It gave us more fatigue than what we could have got from walking towards our destination.


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The outside view of the Harmandir Sahib complex. (I’m not sure about the camera mode)


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The lights will guide you home…


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The only thing we could do was to stay in the moment admiring this creation.


The ambience was something which soothed our minds and view of the temple sanctum in full glory during the night added on to that special experience.


The food was one of the important factors in any journey planned and we had our wish list which included Langar, Kada Prasad from the Golden Temple and a meal from the legendary Kesar Da Dhaba.


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Just another picture of the temple sanctum.(Clicked while we were waiting for Kada Prasad).


As temple sanctum was closed for a considerable time, we went for our dinner from Kesar Da Dhaba. The food was delicious and loaded with butter. The Kada Prasad was served close to midnight. As sleep slowly conquered our senses, we returned to our rooms and decided to call it a day.
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Old 13th April 2019, 08:04   #2
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Day Two: Amritsar – Dharamshala, Prakriti Aalay.

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Day two: Amritsar to Dharamshala via Pathankot.


Our day started late and we checked out from the hotel by 11 AM. Our destination for the day was Prakriti Aalay in Dharamshala; an eco-resort which was highly rated on TripAdvisor.


The roads till Pathankot were four-laned and butter smooth. After crossing Pathankot, two-laned roads welcomed us and we soon dropped for lunch at Firangi Dhaba near Nupur. It was a retro-styled dhaba which served good fusion dishes.


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The interior decor of Firangi Dhaba.


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These things always grab the attention of an automobile enthusiast.


The winding mountain roads of Kangra valley took us to our destination and it was better than what we had imagined.


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The first glimpse of Prakriti Aalay.


Prakriti Aalay was surrounded by lush green pine forest on one side and crystal clear Manooni rivulet on the other. The resort premises overlooked the mighty snow-clad Dhauladhar range. The owner, Mr Kishore Thakur left his corporate job and started his dream project. He was really friendly with his gestures and guided us in exploring nearby attractions. An avid off-road enthusiast by himself, resort’s interiors were decorated with the photos taken during his adventures. He owned a first generation Fortuner and a Gypsy. He enthusiastically told us the tale about how he lost his first Fortuner on a landslide in Spiti and replaced it with the same model thereafter. The walls of rooms were made from clay following the traditional practices. The only downside we could find was the steep incline one should take on foot to approach the resort. We were a bit sceptical about the lack of air conditioning at the beginning, but all of us ended up freezing halfway through the night.


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The snow-clad Dhauladhar range completed the view.


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A Darchog (vertical) prayer flag in the resort premises


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The Manooni rivulet adjoining the resort.


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The pristine and ice cold water freshly delivered from the glacier.


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Peace out.


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The pine forest trail on the other side.


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The dining area. Note the frames hanging on the wall.


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A closeup view of the photographs Mr Kishore captured on his adventures. There were some real gems among them.


We grazed through the surrounding areas for the rest of the day. The home-style dinner served was delicious and we snuggled down to our blankets in no time.
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Old 13th April 2019, 08:27   #3
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Day Three: In and around Dharamshala, McLeod Ganj


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Day Three: In and around Dharamshala.

After taking a delectable breakfast, we took the roads to explore the nearby attractions.
The first on the list was Norbulingka which was situated at a distance of 4 kilometres from the resort.
Conveniently located on Palampur Dharamshala road, this institute was dedicated for preserving the Tibetan culture.
The ambience was soothing and we had spent some quality time admiring the architecture and crafts. To top it off, the Hummingbird Café inside the complex offered some tasty delicacies.


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A random click from the Norbulingka Institute.


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A prayer wheel inside the temple.


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Inside the Norbulingka Museum.


Next on our agenda was HPCA Cricket Stadium which was famous for its picturesque view. We were glad that some local match was going on at that time. I so wished I could play on this turf sometime.


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Arguably the most picturesque cricket stadium out there.


The sun was signing bright and we could not spend much time there. We left for Dharamshala War Memorial which was situated a few blocks away. There were a lot of interesting structures and the kids loved the aircraft and tankers kept there.


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The wall of fame inside the war memorial.


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It was majestic in size. I wish I could say the same about the upkeep.


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These had got the kids excited.


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Learning to fly.


With very less time in our disposal, we rushed towards our next spot. St John in the wilderness. As the name suggested, this church was situated amidst a pine forest and I would not dare to go there late at night. The structure had a gothic feel to it and it reminded us of the haunted places they show in movies.


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Now that was quite old. The notice board kept at the entrance.


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Pine forest: Check, Gothic Structure: Check.


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It was deserted with not many visitors on sight.


The main purpose of visiting McLeod Ganj was to visit The His Highness Dalai Lama’s Main Temple and we had kept it at the last. If you had visited those mighty monasteries in Himalayan deserts and expect a structure similar to those, you would be utterly disappointed. It was situated at the heart of the busiest street in McLeod Ganj and like any major hill station in India, it had very narrow roads with cab drivers rushing past you in the blink of an eye.


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A street food outlet in McLeod Ganj.


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The entrance to His Highness Dalai Lama temple.


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Inside the temple complex.


We had hot Tupka and dimsums from Tibet Kitchen. We returned to our resort post dinner and retired for the day.


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This one was highly rated in TripAdvisor and they served authentic Tibetan cuisine.


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The words to live by.


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The sad truth of today’s fast-paced life.
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Old 13th April 2019, 09:22   #4
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Day Four: Dharamshala – Amritsar, Wagah Border, The Golden Temple (again)

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The route map followed on the final day.

We checked out from our resort in the morning. There came the only glitch of this memorable stay. The only way to book the rooms were through Booking.com which would not allow any online payment and also did not show many details in the booking voucher. This created some confusion with regard to the room rates. We sorted out the issues and embarked our return journey to Amritsar.


After a humdrum drive, we approached the outskirts of Amritsar. A visit to Wagah Border and an experience of Langar from the Golden Temple could be considered almost mandatory on any visit to Amritsar. As it was already mid-noon, we had decided to catch the retreat ceremony at Wagah border first. We stopped at Haveli Restaurant on the way for lunch. As the case with every other meal, this one also turned out to be a treat to our taste buds.


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At the entrance of Haveli dhaba near Wagah border.


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Only they could withstand the summer heat with a smile.


After a stupendous meal, we looked forward to attending the retreat ceremony. The sun was at its peak, but it could not fade the spirits of thousands came to attend the function. The energy level and enthusiasm shown by the army personnel was impeccable. Sensing a huge traffic jam after dispersal, we left the stadium a few minutes before the program ended.



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A milestone kept in front of the stadium.


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We could find a seat in the shade to witness the ceremony.


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Several trucks queuing up at the Pakistan side.


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The energy level of these soldiers was impeccable.


We swiftly moved towards the Golden Temple to experience the Langar. This time we entered the temple complex from another side and the upkeep of the roads and surrounding areas were impressive. We had our long-awaited Langar and it satisfied both our stomachs and souls. The selfless volunteers and sheer magnitude of providing something this big irrespective of anyone’s caste/creed/ nationality was beyond any apprehension.


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Clean and smooth paved roads on another side of the temple.


With that heartfelt meal, we concluded our journey which comprised of a visit to Gurudwara, Buddhist Monastery, Church and Wagah Border (that accentuated the existence of a religion called India). I doubt there could be a better way to conclude this beautiful journey than the experience of Langar which was all about a religion beyond everything said above.



The Humanity.
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Old 13th April 2019, 09:38   #5
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Default re: Amritsar & Dharamshala - Spirituality 101

Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 15th April 2019, 06:09   #6
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Default Re: Amritsar & Dharamshala - Spirituality 101

Nice log! Nothing comes close to food offered at these places!


Close to Dharamshala you also have the Jawalaji temple? Did you not plan to visit?
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Old 15th April 2019, 09:17   #7
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Default Re: Amritsar & Dharamshala - Spirituality 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Nice log! Nothing comes close to food offered at these places!


Close to Dharamshala you also have the Jawalaji temple? Did you not plan to visit?
Thank you. I was not aware of that. I will surely try that next time.
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Old 15th April 2019, 11:39   #8
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Default Re: Amritsar & Dharamshala - Spirituality 101

You seemed to have a nice outing. All these places minus Amritsar have been on my bucket list for long but till today couldn't visit. Especially, Beauty of Dharamshala is what i have been waiting to see.
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