On my last day of work at Delek Hospital, the other docs and I took a combo hired car and train ride to Amritsar, home of the beautiful and famous Golden Temple. My last train experience was in first class AC with a sleeper bed, but all tickets were booked for our train from Pathankot to Amritsar. We ended up trying our luck with the general seating class. It’s basically a free-for-all with two levels of benches with much too many people crammed on to each one. I spent part of the ride sitting in the aisle on my backpack, but I eventually moved up to the upper seats to join Jessica. It was fun to do for a few hours, but I cannot imagine doing long travel like this! It would have been impossible to sleep!
Other than visit the Golden Temple, there isn’t a ton of touristy things to do in Amritsar. The girls were happy to have some much-needed time off from Delek and we spent the majority of our time lazing around our guesthouse and doing a bit of shopping.
Our first stop was to buy a Salwar Kameez for Nisha. The fabric stores are filled with hundreds of different fabric options. Our job was to pick out a pattern and then send it off to another shop to get sewn to her body measurements. The turnaround time is incredible – it only took about 8 hours for the entire outfit to be completed!
Amritsar is a great place to shop. We wandered the streets of Hall Bazar, which are organized by shop type. There is a jewelry street, a kitchenware street, a party supply street, a home furnishing street….you get the picture. There were even a few shops that sold band uniforms (see above). My first thought is that this is bad for business, since it’s easy for the consumer to price check, but apparently it is arranged this way for security. The shopkeepers all look out for each other if there is any kind of trouble.
My second night in Amritsar, I couchsurfed with a Punjabi family. They made me feel incredibly welcome in their amazing home on the outskirts of Amritsar. I had two nights of delicious Punjabi cooking and great conversations with Jolly and his family. I learned a lot about their lives and they had lots of questions for me about being a doctor and my relationship with Pat. They definitely put me in the hot seat about living with Pat before we’re married! 🙂
Another well-known temple in Amritsar is Mata Temple. This temple by far was the wildest and craziest religious site I have ever been to. The only thing I can compare it to is a McDonald’s funhouse on steroids. There were garish, brightly colored statues everywhere and some parts of the temple required you crawl through tunnels or wade through shallow water troughs (to clean your feet).
One of the rooms of our guesthouse had an assortment of old books from as far back as the late 1800’s. Many had a psychological/medical theme to them and there were also some amazing old cookbooks! Check out the titles below and you could see why we were also so intrigued to read them.
Anneke’s boyfriend, Ralph, captured the photo below when a group of Indians stopped and asked for a photo. Isn’t the girl just beautiful?