We each march to our own drummer, and we’re proud of it. But what about the brave few who march to the piper? In theatrical display, men in uniform on either side of the Wagah border stomp and chant national slogans to see who will outdo the other. The Indian and Pakistani flags are lowered for the day and a grand gesture is made of closing the Wagah border gates. With front row seats to the celebration, there’s not much you will miss.
Through sheer will and determination, the historical towns of Pragpur and Garli in the Kangra Valley remain untouched by the tide of modernization. A unique portal through time, it is hailed by locals as the home they will always come back to. You can walk as the locals did a few centuries ago, through cobbled streets and past huts filled with the work of artisans. The craftsmen of Pragpur earn their daily bread by selling their wares at the marketplace where you can stop for a trinket or two.
The land of Sikhs, is a holy site for many followers of this faith. Here, in the heart of the motherland, you can experience the profundity of Sikh teachings as they are captured in a series of sensory stimulants at the heritage museum. The museum of sorts at Anandpur, is shaped like a flower with five petals – a number with great significance to the Sikhs – and filled with murals, artefacts and other exhibits that take you through the history of Sikhism and bring you up to speed, so to speak.
In the recesses of rural Punjab, the scent of citrus lingers in the clean air. Kinnow farms three hours from Amritsar offer a lush experience in solitude. The brainchild of a couple passionate about being perfect hosts, this is where you could have a little contest to see who can pick the largest orange or who can buzz to the nearby village and back on a Royal Enfield. Feel at home and as close to nature as you possibly can.
The raw growl of a tractor as it coughs and sputters along a village road is an introduction to a flourishing way of life. The Punjabi countryside is boisterous and inviting, colourful and traditional. You’ll catch the men tending to the fields and the women churning butter. The best is yet to come however, for meal times are a phantasmagorical explosion of taste!
The saying ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ is taken to a whole new level at the Golden Temple where meals are served at any time of the day! Leave your labels at the door and dine with men and women as equals. Sikhs are also happy to invite people of all faiths to carry their Holy Book in a golden palanquin around the temple before returning it to its resting place. Partake in traditions as old as time and you just might find a little bit of yourself.
A clandestine project. A quiet rebellion by one man. The Rock Garden by Nek Chand, a roads inspector in the early 50’s, was unplanned – yet it is a major attraction in Chandigarh today. After scaping 12 acres by himself for every night over 20 years, he had a veritable trove of statues and constructions made entirely from waste and debris. Today, the Garden stands at 30 acres and is one of the quirkiest things in India.
Click for a quick taste of the region!
Patiala has an engrossing military history to tout. But when it comes to monuments, the Qila Mubarak with its imposing gate, maze of courtyards and frescoed rooms takes the cake.
Ancient developments from the time of the Harappans have been discovered here. There’s also a temple where a blue flame is worshiped, and the mangoes are simple to die for!
Nestled in the Kangra Valley, a rare form of painting developed in the region. Ancient temples touted to be millennia old look nondescript from the anterior but the innards open up a whole new world. Beautiful murals dot the walls and a few miles away, the old village of Pragpur stands with open gates.
Holding the mantle of India’s first planned city is not quite easy. With a number of unusual sights, the city is contemporary and comfortable in every sense. The parks, monuments and expansive boulevards have a classic Swiss town feel.
A visit to the holiest shrines of Sikhs around the world, the gilded Golden Temple, is a humbling experience. Catching the golden sunrise over the Golden Temple is surreal. A few metres from the shrine however, the bustling city sweeps you up in waves of youth and excitement.
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