Monday, October 13, 2014

Of Kadah prashad, Attari border and culinary tourism: Amritsar unfolded, Part-One

If there's one thing Skeety desperately needed to visit Amritsar for, it was the Kadah Prashad at Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple). Even if that meant waking up at an unearthly hour, 4 am and dashing to the temple for a plateful. Check. Skeets couldn't begin in the post in any other manner.
Back to the beginning. Skeety unboarded at the Amristar Railway Station and a quick lunch break later, found herself on a Punjab Tourism bus to Attari border (formerly wrongly called Wagah. Wagah is actually a village on the other side of the border). The lower of flags ceremony or the Beating Retreat needs no introduction but the experience does. Witnessing this grand ceremony (lasting approx an hour) can be your most patriotic and humbling moment ever. And this would be also the closest an Indian could get to Pakistan.

Wagah
Indo-Pak border

Lowering of flags ceremony at India-Pak border
The Beating Retreat
Also nearby, is the tranquil and serenic Pul Kanjri (pic below), which is a destination being promoted by Punjab Tourism which has some great legendary tales attached to it.


Food trail map of Amritsar

Later in the evening Punjab Tourism launched its food trail map of Amritsar spotting famous eateries of Amritsar in order to promote the culinary tourism in state. The map was launched by Razit Bhandari, Senior Marketing Manager, PHTPB and Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna who has voluntarily given his inputs for the Punjab Tourism food trail map (more on that in another blogpost). 

Sarhad restaurant
Launch of Amritsar food trail map at Sarhad restaurant

Sarhad, the restaurant

The launch evening unfolded, at a strategically named and placed restaurant: Sarhad, which was a five-minute drive from the Attari border. This fabulous brick-finish restaurant Sarhad reminiscent of the pre-partition Punjab was founded by Aman Jaspal to host people witnessing the Retreat ceremony for a break. The food here is a tribute to both Lahori and Amritsari cuisine. There were some hits and misses but Skeeter strongly recommends Miyanji ki Dal, thick, creamy, yellow dal and oh-so-flavourful! The railway cutlets are worth sampling too. Ordinary fare, but spiced and cooked to perfection.

Palki procession at Harmandir Sahib

The visit to Harmandir Sahib at 4 am to see the Guru Granth Sahib ki Palki was the second most humbling experience from the trip. To see thousands of Sikh devotees and tourists, up and about to witness the Palki procession is heart warming. The Sikh holy scripture is carried on a Palki in a procession along the bridge to the Akal Takht.


Kadah prashad and langar seva at the Golden Temple

After paying obeisance at the Gurudwara Harmandir, it was time for Skeets to indulge in some culinary treats. It has been a dream to have the kadah prashad at the Golden Temple. Skeety bought a plateful and after getting half of it mixed with the prashad for the rest of the devotees, Skeets was given her own share which she devoured greedily. Wheat, sugar, clarified butter and a lot of muscle work go into the making of this ambrosiac delight. 

Skeeter queued up next for the tea/chai at the langar hall. You have to sit on a mat with other devotees and hold your steel bowl with both hands till a sevadaar comes and offers you some chai. Skeeter greedily drank her piping hot bowlful and belive her you, it is the best kind of Indian milky sweet tea she's ever had. Perhaps it was because of the 6 am hunger pangs or the fact that it was made and served with utmost humility inside a sacred structure. It was worth every effort of waking up at 4am! Yum!

P.S.: Skeeter was invited to be a part of the Amritsar food trail by Chef Vikas Khanna for the launch of his book: Amritsar: Flavours of Golden City .

The Kadah prashad at Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Kadah prashad at Golden Temple, Amritsar

Langar hall of Golden Temple, Amritsar
Langar hall of Golden Temple, Amritsar 

Chai at Harmandir Sahib
Chai being served at Harmandir Sahib

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