To read my original blog from 2018, including the Attari-Wagah border ceremony, go to: https://www.bynancyohare.com/travelblog/high-kicking-border-guards
So, the traffic remains just as thick and as loud as I remembered. Every outing feels as if I am the captain of a ship, navigating narrow ports full of shallow banks and divergent currents. Out here, you must weave through streets awash with motorcycles, vehicles, pedestrians, sleeping dogs and an onslaught of vendors - tiny shops squashed into every building’s ground floor, lassi and chai wallas squeezed onto sidewalks, kulcha grills balanced on top of carts, rickshaw toutes stirring up street intersections and stores overflowing with sequinned shoes to bedazzle passers-by.
The Golden Temple still held its peaceful ambiance and brought back a sense of calm after stepping away from the frenetic street life. Everyone is welcome at this expansive centre focussed around the illustrious Golden Temple that rests in the middle of a square-shaped pond called the Pool of Nector. Both men and women need to bring or borrow a headscarf and leave their shoes at the entrance. Shoe halls run busy operations storing and returning visitors’ footwear at each of the four entrance gates to the temple complex.
About a twenty-minute walk from the Golden Temple lies the more low-key Sri Durgiana Temple. This Hindu temple has its own pond of sacred water encircling a central golden-roofed and silver-doored temple. Its atmosphere seemed to embody the everyday family feel. Worth the time to check out if you have an hour to spare.
Flights: Still available for around $100 a ticket between Delhi and Amritsar, if you can be flexible on dates and times.
Hotel: 4S Niwas Hotel is a budget to mid-range hotel offering decent rooms within a few minutes walk of the Golden Temple and central market streets for less than $30 a night.
Pros: Air conditioning, ensuite with hot water shower, TV (mostly local non-English channels), friendly staff and free WIFI
Cons: Windowless rooms (although this keeps street noise out) and minimal toiletries
Restaurant: AK Amritsari Dhaba & Kulcha Land consistently served up deliciously spicy masala chai (with or without sugar) and their special chur chur naan (tandoori bread stuffed with paneer and potato & hand scrunched before serving alongside chickpea-based chana masala and a spicy pickle sauce).
Lassi: Giani Punjabi Lassi is located right beside another popular lassi walla similarly called Gian di Lassi. We sampled drinks from Giani Punjabi Lassi because their stall was busier at the time. Three staff worked steadily to clean up, refill, scoop toppings and serve the cool lassis in chilled metal cups. The scoops of malai (clotted cream) and makhan (white butter) made the lassi particularly creamy - perhaps too rich for a daily indulgence but tasty nonetheless!