Sheesh Mahal Punjab – A Visit to the Palace of Mirrors

All the days I did wake up early at the crack of dawn as I did at home. Being a fitness geek, I was never carried into the slothful habit of going to bed late and waking up late. My trip to Punjab was getting over and I had a few official telephone calls to make to complete my work, while I had one more place to visit too. Even if you are a seasoned traveler from the country, a visit to Punjab every time will still hold the charms.

Driven by the rich and long history and heritage of Sikhs, we traveled from the Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum to Sheesh Mahal in Punjab. While traveling I could find most places in Punjab coming in their own with continuous renovation and restructuring, which has resulted in an explosion of various business outlets, restaurants and cafes.

Sheesh Mahal Punjab

Sheesh Mahal Punjab | Image Resource: trekearth.com

Our cab was racing to Sheesh Mahal, Old Moti Bagh, Punjab, which is about 120 km from Anantpur Sahib. After good two hour and fifteen minutes travel, we reached Sheesh Mahal. The mahal was built in 1847 by Maharaja Navinder Singh. I could collect some details of the historic structure from our guide, who explained to me that the mahal was designed using mirrors and glass of colored ones. As a result, this mahal was called so, that is, ‘Palace of Mirrors’.

It was disappointing that we could not gain entry to the museum and some halls and exhibits as renovation work was going on there. A three-storey structure, it depicted the architecture of ancient India with pictures of flowers on the walls and ceilings.

I figured out that most of the art there was in poetic form and represented Bihari, Surdas, and Kesav. Furthermore, the paintings exhibited in the museum were of Jaya Deva’s poetry, Krishan Lila, Kangra paintings, and so on. I was told that there were also collections of portraits and ancient coins in the museum. These exhibits were interesting, but we couldn’t see them.

We walked around the place and stopped at the lake. My attention caught the Lakshman Jhoola, which is a bridge to access the Moti Bagh Palace. By the time we finished our sightseeing, it was 5 pm. The lights on the building were lit and the whole Sheesh Mahal looked stunningly beautiful. Capturing some quick snaps of the place, we returned to our room.

Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum Punjab – The Worthy Moments in the Museum

The previous day’s long and tiring journey had made us inactive that we overslept. A telephone call awoke me and I hurriedly attended the call to clarify a few doubts of my client on financial accounts. It was nine in the morning and Amritsar was quite active. Unlike other cities in Punjab, this busy and crammed city is driven by frenzied zeal for business. The residents, most of them, of this large city love to be entrepreneurs and work hard to become successful.

I was interrupted when my colleague talked about our next place in the agenda. We had planned to visit Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum Punjab, which is located near Kila Anandgarh Sahib. The place was around 200 kilometers away from our hotel. Within next two hours, we were in the cab, which took the national highway to reach the museum. It took us almost four hours to reach the destination.

Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum Punjab

Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum Punjab | Image Resource: wikimedia.org

The Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum, situated in the holy Anandpur Sahib town is accessible easily from Chandigarh. The erstwhile museum showcasing the rich Sikh culture and history is one of the prominent attractions in Punjab. The museum was open from 8 am and the entry was free. While walking in I checked the timing and it said the entry is closed at 8 pm.

I wondered how long the history of Sikh was as the museum was celebrating the 500-year old history. I felt there was too much to know about the architecture of the building. Designed to occupy the Western Complex and Eastern Complex, the museum encompasses two integrated sets of structures.

Rear View of the Complex

Rear View of the Complex | Image Resource: wikimedia.org

We walked into the Western complex to browse through the exhibit galleries that showcased the lives of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad Dev Ji, Guru Amar Das Ji, Guru Ramdas Ji, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and so on. Furthermore, we found a spacious library with a large reading room and an auditorium to conduct various seminars and cultures.

The Eastern complex too has exhibits of Sikh heritage, water bodies and other facilities such as a cafeteria, restroom, and so on. More than sightseeing the museum enlightens people the visions of great gurus in Punjab. Their message to people for peace and love are worthy to be retold every time people visit here.

The historical visit to the Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum was quite a worth and moved on to visit our last spot, the Sheesh Mahal.

Image of the Week: Holiday Inn Ranjit Avenue Amritsar

Holiday Inn Ranjit Avenue Amritsar

Holiday Inn Ranjit Avenue Amritsar

The hotel was like a lighted city offering a grand and comfortable stay for its guest. The rooms on top floors gave an amazing view of the city below. The service was impeccable offering a pleasant experience. The coffee at the Lounge was amazing and I was addicted to it. The Italian restaurant Bella became my favorite serving exotic Italian garlic and tomato chicken with the starter Crostini which is now my new favorites.

Punjab Cricket Association Stadium – Some Beautiful Moments at the Stadium

With rich history and culture, Amritsar has a lot to explore in its architectural buildings. We had a good time so far enjoying work and leisure in this Punjab city. The next place in our agenda was the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, which was situated in Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Chandigarh. We had a long distance of around 250 km to travel and so it was advisable to start early.

Certainly there was no convenient mode of transport other than the cab to Chandigarh, and so we had to travel by it. Recognized all over the world as the Mohali Stadium, the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium was founded in 1993. Though it is a home ground to Punjab team, the stadium has gained reputation of international stature with many matches being played here.

Punjab Cricket Association Stadium

Punjab Cricket Association Stadium | Image Resource: thatscricket.com

I learned from a cricket buff that the first cricket match held here was the international match of limited number of ‘overs’ played between India and South Africa. Approved by BCCI, which stands for The Board of Control for Cricket in India, the stadium was built at a whopping cost of 25 crores and it holds approximately thirty thousand people at a time.

The stadium looked amazingly beautiful with green coverage of grass. It has lightings of unconventional type and suits to hold day and night cricket matches. I learned from an official that the arena has set good standards and offers exceptional facilities to players, as well as spectators.

The cricket stadium houses a swimming pool, gymnasium, dressing room for players, practice wickets, and tennis court for the convenience of sportspersons. The pitch, where the action takes place – the bowler bowls the ball and the batsman hits or defends it – is prepared to suit the seam bowlers. However, the nature of the pitch changed later and now it suits spin bowling.

Nevertheless, the cricket arena has records of high scoring draws and according to one cricket buff, the most memorable international match took place in the World Cup in 1996 and it was between West Indies and Australia. We had a very good time at the stadium walking around. By then, we were quite hungry and tired and want to refresh, so we went to a nearby food plaza.

Wagah Border Ceremony – Some Moments Indulged In the Closing Ceremony Held at the Border

Amritsar surprises you with a great miscellany of buildings, traditional and modern ones, concentrating in the old city and new city. Surprisingly, they are marked by the railway lines on the southeast and north, where the former encompasses historical structures and bazaars and the latter embraces the colonial-era boulevards, large shopping malls, and upscale restaurants and hotels.

We had our next visit scheduled to Wagah Border, which is quite far away from Tarn Taran. Our cab took one hour and forty minutes to travel us to the place located on the international highway. We were exactly on time for the Wagah Border Ceremony, which was scheduled at five.

My mind raced back to those pages of history I have read about the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, which was marked by a long white line popularly called Wagah Border. I could see two large gates fixed approximately two meters apart each other. This place is considered to be the official crossing by two nations.

Indian Side of Wagah Border

Indian Side of Wagah Border | Image Resource: ifeverythinghadaword

Interestingly, the Wagah Border Ceremony is the closing ceremony held at the border by lowering of the flags before the sunset. This ceremony is also called the “Lowering of the flags” or “Beating the Retreat” ceremony. A military practice conducted daily by the Border Security Force of India and Pakistan Rangers since 1959, this ceremony takes place in the evening between 4.30 and 5.30 based on the season.

We were quite anxious to witness and be part of the ceremonial occasion and could feel the nationalist zeal within once the show started. When the patriotic song started playing, we respectfully stood singing along with it. Once the songs of both countries were played, next the brave soldiers who have sacrificed their lives were remembered.

Parade at Wagah Border, Amritsar

Parade at Wagah Border, Amritsar | Image Resource: indiamarks.com

There was also a marching parade by soldiers, which took place for some time. Then, the gates were suddenly opened and the soldier standing at each gate walked up and looked at each other, exchanged words and shook hands with each other. Once this was done, the flags of both nations fixed on the poles were lowered and folded and taken back.

Before the gates were closed, the soldiers from both the nations shook hands again and the trumpet was blown to mark the end of the ceremony, which was quite spectacular. It was getting dark and we had to go back and plan for the following day.

Radisson Blu Hotel Amritsar – Elegantly Decorated To Showcase the Modernity

The morning, we reached Amritsar, was pleasant; the air was cool. The Amritsar Junction railway station was quite busy with people running helter-skelter to reach their destination. We walked out of the station looking for our cab sent by the Radisson Blu Hotel Amritsar. Before we found him, a man in mid thirties walked up and introduced himself and escorted us to his cab.

The town was not active, except for a few vendors wearing traditional Punjabi dresses sitting by the side with their wares. They seem not to hustle anyone into buying the things. The cab was running up and entered the Airport Road. It took us twenty minutes to reach the hotel, which is located opposite to the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport. An enormous building, the property sits pretty well surrounded by green fields.

Radisson Blu Hotel Amritsar

Radisson Blu Hotel Amritsar | Image Resource: radissonblu.com

Build to spread the warm and generous hospitality of Punjabis, the hotel consists of 186 rooms and suites set to suit any travelers. We entered the large lobby, which is elegantly decorated to showcase the modernity and luxury. At the reception, we were offered a warm welcome and after confirming our names, we were accompanied to the fifth floor to a spacious Superior Room, booked through budget hotel app.

The hotel offered different types of rooms such as the Superior Room, Premium Room, Business Class Room, Studio Suite, Executive Suite, and Premium Suite. The rooms are beautifully appointed and are of different sizes. Our suite was of approximate 43 square meters and it offered a four-fixture attached bathroom. There was a separate living area, which helped us to engage in our official work.

The complimentary breakfast and cocktail hour were quite encouraging. Radisson Blu Hotel also offered other services such as 24-hour room service, hi-speed internet facility, outdoor pool, health club, on-call doctor, and so on.

We ordered tea and enjoyed the scenic beauty of the field sipping the hot tea. There are two restaurants, Tavolo Mondo and Wall of Asia offering a range of dishes. One can find Tavolo Mondo open all through the day offering à la carte dishes and buffet dishes. The Wall of Asia, on the other hand, is specialised in Pan-Asian cuisines. To soak after a day long’s work, there is Proof – The Bar, offering great ambience to relax in the evenings.

Image of the Week: Baba Banda Bahadur War Memorial Punjab

Baba Banda Bahadur War Memorial Punjab

Baba Banda Bahadur War Memorial Punjab | Image Resource: wikimedia.org

Standing on the exact land on which the Battle of Chappar Chiri was fought, I couldn’t gate my emotions of tribute. This place heard the first siren of India’s battle for freedom. The re- creation of the entire battle fought by Banda Singh Bahadur against Wazir Khan with the war winning strategy is well landscaped with Tibbas holding the war heroes and generals. A restaurant in the vicinity is the perfect place to sit and ease oneself at the valiant memorial like this one.

Harike Wetland Amritsar – The Beautiful and Popular Bird Sanctuary

The next two days were quite hectic as we had to meet our official schedules of visiting the clients and auditing the financial accounts. Though work takes me to places, I have to plan breaks to go sightseeing, which extends my stay by a few days. What I liked about Amritsar was the quick accessibility to the places, which were nearby.

We had a great time, though with changing moods from becoming spiritual to falling melancholic and then to surprise and enthusiastic. The next spot on our agenda was Harike Wetland Amritsar, which is about eighty kilometers from our hotel. It took us an hour to get ready and be in the cab. The driver and guide, by now familiar, informed us that we take state highway and then national highway to reach Tarn Taran Sahib district. The journey took around one hour and thirty minutes approximate.

Harike Wetland Bird Sanctuary Amritsar

Harike Wetland Bird Sanctuary Amritsar | Image Resource: propertydirection.com

Harike Wetland, popularly known as ‘Hari-Ke-Pattan’, was constructed in 1953; it has a Harike Lake created because of the barrage constructed at the place where Sutlej and Beas converge to become one. Over the years, this wetland contributed to the well-to-do biodiversity, making it one of the best habitats for migratory birds, invertebrates and amphibians.

Recognized as the popular bird sanctuary of rare species, Harike Wetland extends to about 86 square kilometers today. The Harike Lake, which is a stretch of shallow water body, is the attraction for many types of fishes and turtle, mammals and birds.

There was no entry fee to visit the sanctuary and walked around spotting many rare species of birds. Admittedly, this is the heaven for bird watchers and nature lovers. We spotted a few birds such as shoveller, pintail, wigeon, common teal, and brahminy ducks. I made some research at the sanctuary and came up with some wonderful details. There were around 375 species of birds recorded, while the ducks recorded were up to forty five thousand in number.

Other than the animals, the sanctuary is rich for its flora collections, which range from anything Amaltus, Drek, Elephant Grass, Kala Siris, Nara to Gandhela, Puthkanda. We spent a very good five hours watching and enjoying the nature in the Harike Wetland. The time was running fast and we have a few more places to cover.

Image of the Week: Pushpa Gujral Science City Punjab

Pushpa Gujral Science City Punjab

Pushpa Gujral Science City Punjab | Image Resource: wikimedia.org

The very outdoor appearance of the science city made our cameras very busy. My friends and I were thrilled to get inside and explore everything that was waiting inside. It was like the replica of the entire world both inside out. With every field leaving us mesmerized and thrilled, a closer attention and an open mind can do wonders. I feel that every school and educational institution across the country ought to bring their students here to inculcate knowledge and adventure.