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the golden temple walk

Amritsar, History

5 stops, Medium

The city of Amritsar, home to the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, gets its name from the sacred tank in which the gleaming, revered Gurudwara stands. History has it that the fourth guru of Sikhism, Guru

The first time I visited the city was a few years ago, bang in the middle of May. Despite the sweltering heat the city managed to hook me in. I still remember how awestruck I was at my first visit to the Victoria Memorial. It’s glistening white domes, the gallery upon gallery of art and relics of a bygone era and the sprawling lawns that surround it, were absolutely stunning. It was one of the few tourist hot spots I actually got to visit. I remember spending most of my trip either enjoying lip smacking Bengali fare or trawling the Bazaars for unique pieces of silver jewellery. One particular shopping trip that I’m not likely to forget in a hurry, is my trip to New Market.

I must begin by mentioning that directions baffle me. Maps of any kind leave me utterly and completely confused (There is a reason my friends never ask me to navigate when we have to drive anywhere). If you have ever been to New Market, you will know that among the shops, it is a maze of stalls and hawkers. Not terribly daunting, but if it’s your first time there, it makes sense to get someone to show you around. While the friend I was with was busy haggling over the price of a kurta, I decided to pop into a nearby Jewelry store. When I came back out happy with the purchase of some new silver earrings, she was nowhere in sight. I had, in all my infinite wisdom, left my cell phone in her bag and instead of staying put, decided that wandering around the Market looking for her was a better idea.

I didn't really mind it at first, because I was busy admiring the little baubles and the aam papad that some of the hawkers were selling. Plus I figured she’d find me somehow. The first strains of panic began to set in when I realised that it was almost 7pm and I still couldn’t find my friend or remember the address to her house. I tried retracing my steps only to realise that I couldn’t and that I was well and truly lost. On the verge of a full blown panic attack, I managed to get someone to direct me to the taxi stand. My friend, who I have to admit was infinitely smarter, called her brother to come and help track me down. The relief I felt on bumping into her brother was directly proportional to the annoyance he felt at being called out on a sunday evening to track down a scatterbrain such as myself. I did apologise profusely of course and took them out for a brilliant meal of Biryani and rolls at Nizams, which I must say was absolutely brilliant. The food here would probably serve to make up for anything short of murder.

Needless to say, for the rest of the trip my friend insisted I carry my own cell phone, while she kept a pretty good eye on me. The rest of the trip followed pretty uneventfully with trips to more markets, a yummy encounter with Shorshe Bata Maach and Bengali sweets. All in all not a trip I will forget in a hurry.