Golden AmritsarRoad trip to Golden temple, Wagah border, Dharamshala and McleodganjTotal No of days - 7Dated - Jan 2010
Places to see in & around Amritsar, Dharamshala & McLeodganj
Amritsar is one of the most important cities of Punjab and is famous for the Golden Temple which is perhaps the most sacred shrine of the Sikhs. Amritsar means The Pool of Nectar, and Guru Ramdas, the forth guru of the Sikhs founded it in 1557. Pakistani travelers come through Amritsar by the land route.
How to reach
Flights are available from Delhi(446 kms) and Srinagar. Well connected by Rail to all the major cities of India. Shatabdi and Frontier mail etc are important trains from Delhi. The state transport buses from Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana and other cities are also available. It is 223 kms from Chandigarh and Shimla is 342 kms.
What to see in Amritsar
The Golden Temple
The original Guru Granth Sahib is housed in the temple by the pool after which the city has been named. The dome of the Temple is gold-plated and the total amount of gold used is believed to be 400 kgs. The temple garden, Baba Atal Tower and Ramgarhia Minars are places within the temple complex.
The Old City
A Hindu temple called Durgiana is a 15-minute walk from the Golden Temple. This temple of goddess Durga is in the old city. Another temple built on a lake, is dedicated to Lakshmi and Narayan. There are a number of mosques including the mosque of Muhammad Jan. The Fort of Govindgarh built by Ranjit Singh in 1805-09,can also be visited.
This beautiful garden has a museum built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh as his summer palace which now houses a museum. An interesting feature of the gardens is a bathing tank constructed by the French General Ventura. The city gate of Rambagh Gardens is topped by a red sandstone baradari (pavilion). The gardens are a delight with their walks and fountains providing an ideal picnic spot.
Just five minutes walk from the Golden Temple is the famous Jalianwala Bagh that commemorates the death of 2000 Indians at this site, who were shot indiscriminately by the British in 1919. Bullet marks and the well into which some people jumped to escape can still be seen.
It is called the city of Bliss and the hills of Naina Devi form a backdrop to the city. There are many Gurudwaras here and Guru Gobind Singh baptised his followers as Khalsa here.
A visit to the Wagah border is an interesting experience especially at sunset while the Retreat takes place when Indian and Pakistani border troops put up a coordinated and spectacular display comparing favourably with London's changing of the Guard.
22 kms south of Amritsar is the Gurudwara taran taran a gilt domed structure built in 1768 to commemorate Guru Ramdas. The waters of the tank here are believed to be miraculous especially in curing leprosy.
on the outskirts of the city at the confluence of Beas and the Sutlej rivers is a scenic spot and the bird sanctuary and offers opportunities for angling.
Set against the backdrop of the dramatic Dhauladhar mountains, Dharamshala is perched on the high slopes in the upper reaches of Kangra valley. It is a charming town with elegant bungalows nestling in the conifer forests. Dharamshala is also the home of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Buddhism who is now headquartered at McLeodganj (Upper Dharamshala). Little Lhasa is an enchanting world where spinning prayer wheels and fluttering prayer flags spread the message of peace and universal harmony.
It is 11 kms from Dharamshala the lake is surrounded by rhododendrons, deodars, and juniper trees. The lake has an enchanting picnic spot.
At Sidhpur on Yol road is Norbulingka which is a centre devoted to the preservation of Tibetan arts and crafts. You can easily spend half a day here. Set in Japanese style there is a temple, souvenir shop, the Losel Dolls museum, thangka painting centre, tailoring section and a cafe. www.norbulingka.org
It is called Little Lhasa at 1,770 m this is the residence of Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile which has been here for over three decades. The monastery has larger than life images of Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avlokteshwara. The Tibetan Institute of performing Arts(TIPA) is 1km. walk from McLeod Ganj and preserves a number of musical dance and theatrical traditions of Tibet. They organise a 10 day festival from the second Saturday every April. There is also a Tibetan handicraft centre situated at McLeod Ganj and a Sunday market.
11 kms from Dharamshala close to the fresh water springs is the temple of Bhagsunath. It is a popular picnic spot and has the famous slate quarries nearby. Further about 2kms. is the beautiful Bhagsunag water falls. This tiny settlement 5,800 ft above sea level is the seat of an ancient temple The Bhagsunag and is believed to be 10,000 years old. Demon king and the powerful snake god had a great battle, after whom the village got the name Bhagsu.
In Bhagsu you can take a tented accommodation on the banks of the Bhagsu river or Hotel Anand Palace is located near the temple and has rooms ranging from Rs 1650 onwards (Ph - 01892-220507). HOTEL TRIUND at www.hoteltriunddharamshala.com.
2 kms away from Bhagsu is Dharamkot. Here lots of meditation centers are concentrated in the thick woods. The Vipasanna or Tushita Meditation Centre is located here. To stay Dev Cottages spend Rs 1800 for a double room. www.devcottage.com. Tel - 01268 221558. Also check out Hotel Eagle's Nest at www.hoteleaglesnest.com. Also check out the Himalayan Iyenger Yoga Centre at www.hiyogacentre.com. Gagan Resorts at www.gaganresorts.com.
It is 2,827 m and around 17 kms from Dharamshala. The snowline starts at ikala (snow line) which is 5 kms from here and you can find pure snow here. There are 3 shops on top where tea and some snacks are available. It is a popular picnic and trekking spot. A ropeway is being built from Dharamshala to this place.
23 kms from Dharamshala is this monolithic temple which appears very similar to the temples of Ellora. These is the only shrines carved out of live rock in North India. There are 15 temples in the Indo Aryan style. The images of Rama, Laxman and sita are seen in the main temple. The temple has a water pond. The snow clad Dhauladhar gives a panoramic view from here.
This Shakti temple has many devotees coming here daily. In August there is a fair held for 10 days here.
Nadaun Situated on the Shimla - Dharamshala road there is a old palace and an ancient Shiva temple here. The palace has some of the old paintings. The Shaktipeeth Jwala temple is 14 kms away from here. Adventure sport enthusiasts can have a camping sites for anglers, river rafting can be done at Dehra and so on.
Chamunda Devi temple
15 kms from Dharamshala is the famous temple of Goddess of Chamunda Devi. The temple has 'lingam' which represents Lord Shiva. The temple has a glorious view of the Dhauladhar, the Baner and the Dadh. A trek of about 16 km up in the Dhauladhar ranges is the ancient temple of Aadi Himani Chamunda.
Nurpur has an old fort and a temple of Brij Raj. Nurpur Fort got its name when Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor named it after his wife Nurjahan. It has picture of men, women, children, the kings, gods and goddesses etc on its walls. It is a beautiful fort. The Brij Raj world is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It has a black stone idol of Lord Krishna.
It is situated 41 kms. from Dharamshala and can be approached by road the natural cave temple of Trilokpur contains a stalactite and stalagmite is dedicated to Shiva. High on the ridge of the cave are ruins of a palace and baradari (audience hall) of Lehna Singh Majitha, Governor of Kangra hills during the Sikh rule.
Dalai Lama's Home
The Dalai Lama's Tibetan settlement is alive with colours and hue. Here prayer wheels and carpets take you to a wooden trail that leads to the Gelugpa Monastery which has many guest houses adjoining the Dalai lama's residence where the hum " Om mani padme hum" echoes in the air.
In the main entry gate of the Tsuglagkhang Complex is the Tibet Museum, telling the tragic story of the Chinese occupation and the subsequent Tibetan exile beautifully through photographs, interviews and videos.
Next to the Tsuglagkhang is the Kalachakra Temple, built in 1992, which contains mesmerizing murals of the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) mandala, specifically linked to Avalokitesvara, currently represented on earth by the Dalai Lama.
At the bottom of a long flight of steps below the bus stand, this peaceful gompa was built in 1987 to replace the original Dip Tse Chokling Gompa in Tibet, destroyed in the Cultural Revolution.
Church of St John in the Wilderness
Just off the main road into McLeod, the Church of St John in the Wilderness has handsome stained-glass windows dating from the British era.