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Travel Guide Asia India Punjab

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Introduction

Rickshaw?

Rickshaw?

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Punjab is a state in northwest India. After the partition of India in 1947, the Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan. The Indian Punjab was divided on the basis of language in 1966. It was divided into 3 parts. Haryanvi speaking areas (dialect of Hindi) were carved out as Haryana, Hilly regions and Pahari speaking areas formed Himachal Pradesh alongside the current state of Punjab.

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Geography

The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to the northeast, Chandigarh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest. Pakistan is located to the west.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

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The Harmandir Sahib (or Hari Mandir) in Amritsar, is the holiest shrine to Sikhism. Previously and more commonly referred to as the Golden Temple, it was infact officially renamed Harmandir Sahib in 2005. The temple was completed in 1604 by the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev Ji, but it all began much earlier in 1577 when the fourth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, excavated a tank in 1577 which subsequently became known as Amritsar (meaning pool of the nectar of immortality), thus giving its name to the city that grew around it. When visiting the temple it is important that you follow protocol. You will need to leave your shoes in the designated area (you will be given a token in exhange), cover your head and bathe your feet on the way in. The other restrictions are that visitors must not drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke cigarettes or take drugs on the premises. Perhaps unlike many other temples in India, here you feel genuinely welcome and there is no pressure to take out your wallet or pay for a guide and there is no entrance fee. The welcoming information office to the left of the main gate gives helpful advice and information, as well as booklets on Sikhism. The temple (or gurdwara, meaning doorway to god) is a major pilgrimage destination for Sikhs from all over the world, as well as a popular tourist attraction where all faiths are welcome. It also offers food and rest for weary travellers and pilgrims within its complex. When visiting the gurdwara you will notice catering quarters on a grand scale where food is being prepared and delicious smells will make your mouth water. Hundreds of people are fed for free every day here. The Golden Temple almost appears to float in its "pool of nectar"and is reflected beautifully in the still waters. It gleams and sparkles in the sunshine and after dark, when it is illuminated, it is equally beautiful and yes it is clad in real gold!

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Events and Festivals

  • Holi is quite popular in the Indian sub-continent and is traditionally celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna (early March), according to Hindu calender. Holi is a thanksgiving festival, where people offer prayer to God for good harvest and fertility of the land. Holi is a festival of freedom from social norms and caste inhibitions are shed for a day as people indulge in fun and merry-making. Colors and 'gulal' are showered on the people dressed up for the occasion and the whole community seems to merge into one big family under the guise of colors, without any distinction whatsoever. Children with face smeared with colors run around with 'pichkaris' (big syringes to splash colored water) and play amongst themselves. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Holi is also marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and drum beating. Parties are also organized where snacks and the traditional milk-based drink “Thandai” is served which is often intoxicated with “Bhang”. Of late, lots of foreigners have started taking interest in this festival and they even enjoy the colors and the intoxicating drink. It is advised to cover your hair with a cap and eyes with sunglasses to avoid the colors splashing the eyes and damaging the hair.
  • Republic Day - Republic Day is a national holiday in India every January 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution in 1950 and the declaration of independence in 1930. The capital of New Delhi is the focus of the celebrations, including a flag raising ceremony, wreath laying, 21-gun salute, Presidential speech, and presentation of awards for selflessness and bravery. A massive military parade includes elephants ridden by children who have received national accolades.
  • Gandhi Jayanti - Gandhi Jayanti is a national public holiday commemorating the birth of the peaceful activist, Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 1869. The celebration coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. In India, Gandhi is remembered through statues, flower and candle offerings, prayers and singing the devotional hymn Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. The Indian government issues special mint rupees and postage stamps bearing his picture.
  • Diwali - Diwali is the five-day festival of lights held in India in late October or early November each year. The widely celebrated Hindu event marks Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravan. Homes and streets are decorated with lights, candles and small clay lamps, and new clothes are worn and sweets are exchanged.

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Weather

The geography and subtropical latitudinal location of Punjab lead to large variations in temperature from month to month. Even though only limited regions experience temperatures below 0 °C, ground frost is commonly found in the majority of Punjab during the winter season. The temperature rises gradually with high humidity and overcast skies. However, the rise in temperature is steep when the sky is clear and humidity is low.

The maximum temperatures usually occur in mid-May and June. The temperature remains above 40 °C in the entire region during this period. Ludhiana recorded the highest maximum temperature at 46.1 °C with Patiala and Amritsar recording 45.5 °C. The maximum temperature during the summer in Ludhiana remains above 41 °C for a duration of one and a half months. These areas experience the lowest temperatures in January. The sun rays are oblique during these months and the cold winds control the temperature at daytime.

Punjab experiences its minimum temperature from December to February. The lowest temperature was recorded at Amritsar (0.2 °C) and Ludhiana stood second with 0.5 °C. The minimum temperature of the region remains below 5 °C for almost two months during the winter season. The highest minimum temperature of these regions in June is more than the daytime maximum temperatures experienced in January and February. Ludhiana experiences minimum temperatures above 27 °C (81 °F) for more than two months. The annual average temperature in the entire state is approximately 21 °C. Further, the mean monthly temperature range varies between 9 °C in July to approximately 18 °C in November.

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Getting There

By Plane

By Train

Punjab is well connected with other major cities of india. Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Ferozepur are major junctions of Indian Northern Railways.

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Getting Around

By Car

You can rent a car, but taxis are cheaper. It is safest to hire an experienced driver. Like most of India, navigating traffic in Punjab can be a hair-raising experience. Taxis usually don't have a problem driving to wherever you want within the district. It is common to see the owner of the car sitting in the back with a driver driving the car.

By Bus

Two-wheelers are the most popular mode of transport.

An auto rickshaw, or auto or rickshaw or tempo in popular parlance, is a three wheeled vehicle for hire. They typically have no doors or seat belts. Generally yellow or green in colour and have a black or green canopy on the top. An auto rickshaw is generally characterized by a tin/iron body resting on three small wheels, a small cabin for the driver in the front and seating for three in the rear. Hiring an auto often involves bargaining with the driver.

Buses are available in most towns in Punjab. They go all over the country. The bus service has improved considerably in last 2-3 years with introduction of deluxe and air-conditioned buses. Main enrty routes are from Delhi via Ambala or via Delhi-Jind-Sangrur or Delhi-Hissar-Bathinda sections. NH 1 is presently 6 laned from Delhi till Panipat but work is in progress and will be completed till Ambala by 2013.

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Eat

While it is widely popular, there is a misconception in some Western countries that Punjabi cuisine is completely curry-based. One of the main features of Punjabi cuisine is its diverse range of dishes, whose level of spiciness can vary from minimal to very high. Home-cooked and restaurant-made Punjabi cuisine can vary significantly. Restaurant-style cooking uses large amounts of clarified butter, known locally as desi ghee, while home cooking is done with liberal amounts of butter and cream, and concentrates mainly upon masalas (blends of spices). There are also different regional preferences. For example, people in the area of Amritsar prefer stuffed parathas and milk products. The area is well known for the quality of its milk products. There are certain dishes which are exclusive to Punjab, such as mah di dal and saron da saag.

Punjabi cuisine can be non-vegetarian or completely vegetarian. Due to Sikh and Hindu religious beliefs, beef is a banned item, neither consumed nor sold in Punjab.

There are a variety of pulse, bean and/or lentil preparations that one should try. Common preparation generally includes being soaked overnight, or for at least 8 hours, and then gently simmered on the embers of a tandoor along with ginger, garlic and a few other garam masala (whole spices like cardamom, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, mace, and bay leaf). These are then combined with a tangy masala base which could include tomato or dried mango (aamchur powder) or even pomegranate seeds (anar dana). The typical character of the bean or whole lentil preparation is that the shape of the vegetable remains intact, but the gentlest pressure would make it into a paste. Dollops of cream and butter are sometimes provided for a rich, finishing touch. Garnishing is usually done with shredded coriander leaves and ginger.

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Drink

Drinks found in Punjab are the same as the ones through out India, but often have a Punjabi twist to them.

  • Chai is an Indian Tea. It is more popular than coffee, and street vendors called "chai wallahs" (sometimes spelled "chaiwalas") are a common sight in many Punjabi neighborhoods.
  • Lassi is a traditional North Indian beverage, made by blending yoghurt with water, salt, and spices until frothy. Traditional lassi is sometimes flavored with ground, roasted cumin. The Lassi is sometimes made with a little milk and is topped with a thin layer of malai, a clotted cream, also known as Devonshire cream. Lassis are enjoyed chilled as a hot-weather refreshment. With a little turmeric powder mixed in, it is also used as a folk remedy for gastroenteritis.
  • Sharbat is a popular Middle Eastern and South Asian "juice" that is prepared from fruits or flower petals. It is sweet and served chilled. It can be in concentrate form and eaten with a spoon or mixed with water to create a drink. It was popularised by the Mughal rulers, one of whom sent for frequent loads of ice from the Himalayas to get a cool refreshing drink.
  • Desi Daroo, also known in different parts of the country under other names. It is made by fermenting the mash of sugar cane pulp in large spherical containers made of terra cotta, and nearly 100% alcohol. However, it is a dangerous drink, mainly because of the risk of alcohol or copper formaldehyde poisoning.
  • Coffee, also known as Madras filter coffee or kaapi, is a sweet milky coffee made from dark roasted coffee beans and chicory. The most commonly used coffee beans are peaberry (preferred), Arabica, Malabar and robusta grown in the hills of Kerala (Malabar region), Karnataka (Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru) and Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris District).
  • There are many types of liquor and beer available at most restaurants. Imported brands are also available in some of the higher-class restaurants but the price is much steeper. There are also some liquors and beers available locally that are of very poor quality. These are usually distinguished by the price: you'll get what you pay for. You can expect to pay up to 3 or 5 times the price of local liquors for IMFL. Usually, only a select few imports are available and Johnnie Walker is usually one of them. If you are taking a gift for people who you know drink and won't be offended, then bringing some kind of Scotch whisky is a good idea.

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Sleep

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Punjab Travel Helpers

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This is version 8. Last edited at 12:37 on Aug 14, 17 by Utrecht. 11 articles link to this page.

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