Amritsar India

Getting there from Delhi is easy with the overnight Golden Temple Express, advance reservation needed ($25 for 2nd class berth, clean sheets included, I slept like a baby). The main sights are the Golden Temple, Jallianwalla Bagh, Khalsa College and Wagah Border Post, and you can see them all in one day. Amritsar is hot and humid – mosquito repellent a must. I went straight from the train station to the Golden Temple, where for 3 hours I flowed in the circular pattern around and around the pool, watched men and women devotedly hand clean the marble floors, listened to the Sikh music and prayers, and entered the central shrine.  From there, it’s a 5 minute walk to Jallianwalla Bagh, a beautiful park which is the memorial site of the 1919 massacre. It’s a 10 minute taxi ride to Khalsa College, the most beautiful building in Amritsar, with spires, pillars, domes and gardens. A basic but clean restaurant, with typical vegetarian Punjabi food, is Bhrawan da Dhaba. The Wagah border post is 20 km further.

As I was continuing to Dharamsala, I had arranged in advance a private airconditioned car with driver, from pickup at the train station, all day sightseeing, and on to Dharamsala. ($100 prearranged with Summit Adventures, , who also preordered my $25 Delhi-Amritsar train ticket). The other option would have been taking local taxis and then the public bus (8 hours) to Dharamsala. After an overnight train ride and a full day of sightseeing, it would have been hell. I chose heaven, and drove to Dharamsala in cool comfort, stopping occasionally at places my driver recommended for sweet hot chai and a clean bathroom. The final stretch uphill is gorgeous, around mountain peaks and through clouds, surrounded by green forests and overlooking rivers.

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