I never in my life thought I would be hanging out right on the border of Pakistan.
From Delhi we took a train to Amritsar. We traveled first class, but even so, first class is not like traveling first class in Europe. But all in all, it was not bad. We had individual, reclining seats, and it was nice to see the views outside the train windows. They also served food, which was usually tepid and mediocre, but nice nonetheless. A few in the group felt they did not do well with this food, so consume at your own risk! Also, using the bathroom on the train was a bit of a shock. There were western style toilets, but no flushing mechanism. The toilet opened up directly on to the tracks! As you are using the facilities you can see the tracks through the toilet which was disconcerting to say the least. And then to think of all the waste on the train tracks…….ick. But I digress.
Amritsar of the Punjab is a great place to visit as it is home to some wonderful sites such as the Golden Temple and the massacre site of Jallianwala Bagh. Additionally, I found Amritsar to be a little cleaner and full of bright colors and cheerful people. As I look back, I think the Sihk’s Golden Temple is one of my favorite spots we visited while in India.
But to begin, I thought I would talk about the lovely place we stayed and the atmosphere of the city. We visited Amritsar after only being in the country for a day, so I was still in the “open-mouth” stage. I kept having this distinct feeling that I had literally left the planet and was transported somewhere magical and so very foreign. My poor brain could hardly take it all in. As we drove along in the city I couldn’t help but whip out my camera and take some video. Our bus was proceeding quite slowly, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to take some footage while I could. It is not the best but certainly captures at least a little of the movement, color, and vibrancy of Amritsar.
We shortly arrived at a lovely hotel by the name of “Mrs. Bhandari’s Guest House.” Actually, calling it a hotel does it a bit of a disservice. It was more like a combination of a small motel and Bed & Breakfast. Our rooms were not fancy, but they were clean and charming. In the corner was a little stove where you could burn manure patties in the winter.
All of the rooms had entrances from the outside and many faced green space. The complex seemed to be away from the pollution and traffic and provided a quiet respite. The gardens and buildings on the premises were well kept and beautiful.
There was a communal eating covered porch, as well as a playground and swimming pool. It was all very homey and inviting. In fact, there was a cooler in the eating area where you would just help yourself to cold drinks and record what you consumed on a pad of paper. Our total was added up at the end of our visit. For breakfast, which was included in our package, we just informed our host, Mrs. Bandhari, what we would like, which was porridge, toast, fruit, and omelets. We all gathered in the morning and were seated together at the long tables as they brought out breakfast.
As we visited the sites in the city I kept wanting to lag behind the group just to gape at all of the movement around me. I would imagine if you lived in India you would just have to learn to block out your surroundings sometimes or you would be constantly distracted.
All through the trip I loved to see the women in their beautiful suits. They are so colorful, feminine, and exotic.
Mrs. Bhandari’s guest house was my favorite place to stay while we were in India. It felt homey and inviting. The staff were all lovely and provided excellent service. We most definitely stayed in some “nicer” places, but none of them were as charming as feeling like a guest of Mrs. Bhandari.
Next stop: Amritsar’s Golden Temple complex!