Writing a travelogue usually fills me with uneasy feeling mixed with nostalgia, desire to go back or displeasure in returning home. But, as I right the travelogue for Amritsar I have a smile on that runs from ear to ear. The reason is, well, I don't like going there because I am made to go there too often, and the purpose of travel is usuaully family and not vacation so I know I will return time and again to this city which is rightly regarded as the center of Sikh world and also a sort of center of my family world.
Every third shop in Amritsar is a restaurant/dhaba/halwai/tandoor/tikkiwaala or sells something edible. And they are all proudly "pure desi ghee" preparations. If you are travelling from Delhi, you will be please with the menu and the prices quoted but will be scared to see the portion size and thick butter floating along with sabzi and masala. They say, it is the last frontier of pure milk and pure ghee in India. I agree adding that if you throw a stone in Amritsar and it will fall in the big kadhaai full of rich creamy milk with boiled cardamom and other condiments sold for Rs. 20 a glass. Lassi and Kadhai dudh is the speciality of Amritsar, glass of which outsiders cannot even dare to lift.
Special kulfi faluda, punjab famous Bharawan da dhaba, Gyani tea stall di special chai, beera chicken, kesar da dhaba, makhan fish, chajju da palak paneer...this city has more than what one stomach in one visit. But my favourite that I could accomodate each morning for breakfats was the special Amritsari Kulcha. Baked to such perfection, no matter where you order it, you would be forced to grant that no one can do tandoori stuff better than Amritsaris. Add to it a big chunk of butter with special choley that are served with it and it is a delicacy anyone can afford. There always comes a moment in your stay in Amritsar when you are so stuffed with the desi "ghyo" and makkhan that you feel like food itself. The memory of all this food itself turns my stomach into an acid factory.
Amritsar, "Sifti da Ghar", "Bhajan aur bhojan ki nagri": No matter where you are in the city you will be able to hear Gurbani paath. Amrtitsari people are very dedicated to the religion of Sikhism and their Gurus who blessed the land by choosing it to locate the Gurdwara "Harmandir Sahib" which is historically the most important place of worship for Sikhs. The whole city is dedicated in the "Sewa" of "Darbar Sahib". With people visiting Gurdwara round the clock from around the world, meals and tea is served 24X7. Their is a whole set of people and hundreds of them who find little things to do for the Guru "Ghar". From helping people with plates, spoons and dishes for eating, to serving food, to collecting used utensils, to cleaning the floor and carpet after people have eaten, to washing the utensils or cook for thousands of people each day. People find a little task for themselves in the bigger endeavour of the whole community to attain naam and live their lives around these duties.
All in all, I have'nt seen a city with a bigger heart that feeds well not just richest but the poorest to heart's content and in the royal style. Infact to enjoy the true taste of the city you must get off your big car and line infront of the modest looking dhabas serving lavish meals fit for royalty. Just the reason why the city feels more like home than even home does.