India on the Road

From Panipat to Amritsar

4 MAY 2016,
Sikh pilgrim at the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar
Sikh pilgrim at the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar

Route: Panipat – Karnal – Pipli – Ambala – Khanna – Ludhiana – Jalandhar – Rayya – Amritsar
Distance: 380 Kms
Driving Time: 8 Hours

Panipat

Panipat is a historic city and as many as three battles were fought here which was to change the course of India’s destiny. Historically, the city dates back to the era of the Mahabharata and is believed to have been founded by the Pandava brothers. The historical name of the city is “Panduprastha”.

The city has carved a niche for itself for manufacturing high quality textile goods and carpets. The local handloom industry is booming and the city is renowned for producing some of the finest quality of blankets. In fact, the city is a major supplier of blankets to India’s armed forces. The city also prides itself for the quintessentail Panipat Pickle (Achara Pachranga), which has been manufacturing pickles since the year 1925.

What to See in Panipat:

Battle Museum, Hemu’s Samadhi Sthall, Babur and Akbar’s Camp, grave of Ibrahim Lodhi, Kabuli Bagh, Kala Amb, Devi Mandir and Salar Jung Gate

Where to Stay:

Nirula’s Hotel, Gold Hotel, Blue Jay Hotel, Hotel Maharaja, Hotel Mid Town, Hotel Regency.

Where to Eat:

The in-house restaurants of Nirula’s Hotel, Gold Hotel, Hotel Maharaja, Hotel Mid Town, Hotel Regency and Blue Jay Hotel offer multi cuisine options.

What to Buy:

Locally manufactured pickles and textile items.

Karnal

From Panipat continue to drive on NH-1 to Panipat, which is located at a distance of 35 Kms. The city of Karnal is ideally located on G.T.Road (National Highway – 1) and is well spread out over an area, which is all of 1967 Sq.Kms. This bustling city goes back to the era of the Mahabharata and it is believed that the Kauravas founded this city for King Karna.

In the year 1739, Karnal was the scene of a fierce battle between Nadir Shah and Muhammed Shah in which the later was comprehensively vanquished. Afterwards in the year 1763, Karnal was in the possession of the Maharaja of Jind and finally it was the turn of the colonial British Raj to rule over Karnal. They built a cantonment here but were forced to give up this strategic base due to the occurrence of Malaria.

What to See:

Atal Park, Church Tower, Kalandar Shah’s Tomb, Mama Bhanja Fort, Miran Sahib’s Tomb, National Bureau of Animal Genetics Research Centre, National Dairy Research Institute, Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Tarrori Ka Killa, Wheat Research Directorate.

Where to Stay:

Oasis Resort and Karna Lake Resort.

Where to Eat:

The In-House multi cuisine restaurants of Oasis Resort and Karna Resort offer a variety of culinary spread.

What to Buy:

Local handicrafts of India. The exclusive Krafts Bazaar, which has been set up in close proximity to the Oasis Resort is designed like a traditional Indian Bazaar and all major states of India are represented here. One can choose from a bewildering variety of handicraft products like cane furniture, readymade garments, wood carvings, terracotta items, ethnic jewellery etc…

Pipli

From Karnal go straight on NH – 1 to Pipli, which is located at a distance of 31 Kms.The quaint town of Pipli is on the Delhi-Ambala National Highway No 1.

What to See:

Pipli Mini Zoo.

Where to Stay:

Parakeet Tourist Resort, National Highway No - 1, Tel: 01744-230250. The Resort has 15 well-appointed rooms and are priced in the range of Rs.1800 to Rs.1000, depending upon the type of room.

Where to Eat:

In - house restaurant of Parakeet Resort.

What to Buy:

Ethnic Jewelry and handicraft items.

Ambala

From Pipli to Ambala, continue on NH – 1. The distance is 49 Kms. Ambala is basically a Cantonment city founded by the British in the year 1843. It is ideally situated at an elevation, which is all of 274 meters high. Ambala is also a district headquarter and bustling commercial hub in the state of Haryana.

Apart from industries, the city is renowned for its natural lakes and some of the largest lakes in Haryana can be found in this city. The city is replete with ancient and medival places of religious congregations. A visit to the city’s shrines that are well spread out can be a very rewarding experience.

The three most revered Gurudwaras vis-à-vis the Badshahi Bag Gurudwara, the Sis Ganj Gurudwara, and the Manji Sahib Gurudwara are “must visit” sites for any traveler to Ambala. These Gurudwaras were in the distant past associated with several Sikh Gurus like Guru Govind Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Hargovind.

Ambala is well connected by both road and rail links to the rest of India.

What to See:

Bhawani Amba Temple, Kali Mata Temple, The Badshahi Bag Gurdwara, Manji Sahib Gurdwara, Sangat Sahib Gurdwara, Sis Ganj Gurdwara, Muslim shrines of Lakhi Shah and Taqwal Shah, St.Paul’s Church, Old British Cemetery, Patel Park in Ambala Cantt, City Park.

Where to Stay:

Haryana Tourism run King Fisher is very popular with the discerning visitors to Ambala. Other hotels like Batra Palace, Four Seasons and Cicil too offer decent accommodation options.

Where to Eat:

The quintessential Punjabi Dhabas are everywhere offering the very best of the earthy Punjabi and Tandoori food. However, for sumptuous meals, King Fisher, Batra Palace, Four Seasons and Cicil are much preferred by visitors.

What to Buy:

Leather bags, shoe and purses.

Khanna

From Ambala, drive on NH – 1 via Rajpura to Khanna, which is located at a distance of 72 Kms. Khanna is a quaint municipal town located in the district of Ludhiana in the state of Punjab. There is a legend associated with the naming of the town. “The word “Khanna” in Punjabi means “One Quarter” or 1/4th. The town was so named because its small size.

Presently the town of Khanna is one of Asia’s biggest Grain Market and is also renowned for its Steel Industries.

If historical records are anything to go by, Mughal Emperor Sher Shah Suri had built numerous “Sarais” or inns at regular intervals along the famed Delhi-Lahore road. Legend has it that one of the Sarais was constructed in Khanna, which is popularly referred to as the “Purani Sarai”.

What to See:

Grain Market, the Gurudwaras and shrines.

Where to Eat:

Like any other rural towns of Punjab, Khanna too has numerous Dhabas and it is never difficult to locate one where one can relish anything ranging from Sarson Ka Saag and Makkai Ki Roti to the fiery Rogan Jos.

What to Buy:

Traditional Punjabi handloom products.

Ludhiana

As you drive onward from Khanna along the NH-1, the city of Ludhiana, which is located at a distance of 41 Kms. appears on the horizon. The city of Ludhiana was founded by two Princes belonging to the Lodhi dynasty in the year 1480. It is ideally located on the south bank of river Sutlej. There are many Gurudwaras in Ludhiana and some of them have meticulously preserved many of the memoirs of Sri Guru Govind Singh.

However, Ludhiana is most renowned for its industrial products and items like Resham Silk, woolen garments as well as cotton garments have earned recognition not only in India but in overseas markets as well.

In Ludhiana, you will come across the University of Ludhiana that has played a pioneering role in ushering and sustaining the “Green Revolution” in Punjab and Haryana. Another industrial landmark of Ludhiana is the world famous – “Hero Cycle” factory and manufacturing unit.

What to See:

Rakh Bagh Park, Nehru Rose Garden, Tiger Safari, Traffic Park, Hardy’s World, Leisure Valley, Fountain Chowk, Nehru Planetarium, City Kotwali, Guru Nanak Bhawan, Jassal Art Gallery, Museum of Rural Life, Uppal Museum, Lodhi Fort, the Gurudwaras and Muslim shrines.

Where to Eat:

People of Ludhiana are very fond of food and the city’s Tandoori cuisine is renowned throughout the world. Yuvraj Restaurant, The Yellow Chilli, Nutri Max Foods, Mahek Pure Vegetarian, Chick-Fi Fast Food Restaurant, Bansi Vaishnu Dhaba, Gazeebo Restaurant and Bits & Pieces are very popular.

Where to Stay:

Hotel Nagpal Regency, Hotel Maharaja Regency, Hotel Friends Regency, Hotel Grand Marian, Hotel Nanda, Hotel Aditya, Hotel City Heart Sarovar Portico, Hotel Ivory Retreat, Hotel Hallmark.

What to Buy:

Hosiery items, Shawls and blankets.

Jalandhar

From Ludhiana, a brisk drive of 59 Kms. on NH-1 via Phillaur and Phagwara takes you to Jallandhar. Jalandhar is an old city of Punjab and in the distant past it used to be the capital of a Hindu king. The city survived being sacked by Muhammed of Ghazni nearly a thousand years ago and the city has a huge “Sarai” built in the year 1857. The city is also the headquarters of the Punjab Armed Police.

Jalandhar was the capital of Punjab till the year 1953 with an elevation of 751 feet. The city has carved a niche for itself when it comes to sports goods, leather goods as well as automobile parts. Jalandhar also has a thriving surgical tool industry and it isn’t surprising to know that the city is replete with numerous hospitals, big and small.

Cricketing icon – Harbhajan Singh hails from Jalandhar and the city has given its share of Bhangra musicians of the stature of Apache Indian, Jasbir, Hans Raj and others of their ilk who have popularized the Bhangra Music at the world stage.

What to See:

Devi Talab Mandir, Tulsi Mandir, Gurudwara Chhevin Patshahi, Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh Museum, Adampur, Alwarpur, Banga, Nawanshahar.

Where to Stay:

The Maya Hotel (Tel: 0181-2244494), The Regent Park (2203597), Hotel Dolphin (2621177), Hotel Sekhon Grand (2222599), Leo Inn (2244890), Radisson Hotel (4671234), Hotel President (2242802).

Where to Eat:

Bakers Inn, Barista Espresso Bar, Baskin 31 Robbins, Chinook Centre, Eat Well House, Fox Trot Restaurant, Head Quarters Family Restaurant and Hut – The Food Joint are some of Jalandshar’s most popular eateries.

What to Buy:

Leather goods, sports goods and handicrafts. Some of the most popular shops for buying souvenirs are Oriental Craft, Taj Handicrafts, Loveleen Handicrafts, Jaina Crafts and Pacca Bagh.

Rayya

From Jalandhar continue on NH – 1 via Kartarpur and Budh Theh to Rayya, which is located at a distance of 50 Kms. Rayya is a Panchayat town in the district of Amritsar, Punjab. The town is strategically located on GT Road and is renowned for its women’s college – Saheed Darshan Singh Pheruman Girls College fro Women and the Saheed Darshan Singh Pheruman Public School.

There is an interesting story behind the naming of the town. Legend has it that in the distant past, there were three brothers by the names of Fattu, Feru and Aiya, who took possession of the area of present day Rayya and set up three distinct neighborhoods that went by the name of Fatuwal, Feruman and Aiya. The later name was afterwards changed to Rayya.

Presently Rayya is renowned throughout India for its grain market which is one of the largest in Asia when it comes to trading in food grains.

What to See:

Visits to nearby places like Beas, Pheruman, Baba Bakala, Dhianpur and Tangra.

Where to Stay:

Medium budget lodges in the town’s main marketplace.

What to Buy:

Traditional handicraft items.

Amritsar

On the last leg of your journey from Rayya to Amritsar, continue to drive on NH – 1 and a brisk drive of 43 Kms. will bring you to the city of Amritsar. Amritsar is a frontier city of Punjab and is strategically located near the Indo-Pak border. The only road link between India and Pakistan goes through Amritsar. The famed Attari Check Post is just 25 Kms. from Amritsar.

Amritsar is not only a city but also a place for pilgrimage for the Sikhs, vis-à-vis the Golden Temple.

The city was founded in 1577 by Ram Dass, the fourth Guru of the Sikhs. Given the state’s turbulent past, the city’s recovery has been remarkable and today Amritsar looks even better than many other parts of India.

In the Old City, there are as many as 18 gates still in existence but only the gate to the north, facing the Ram Bagh Gardens is original. The Golden Temple and the narrow alleys of the bazaar area are in the interior of the Old City.

The modern part of Amritsar is to the northeast of the Railway Station where you will also find the beautiful gardens- Ram Bagh, the Mall and the posh Lawrence Street.

What to See:

The Golden Temple, The Old City, Jalianwala Bagh and Ram Bagh.

Where to Stay:

Amritsar International at City Center, Hotel Tourist Bureau near Railway Station, Hotel Astoria at Queens Road, Mohan International at Albert Road, Hotel Blue Moon at the Mall, Hotel Grand at Queens Road and Hotel Skylark, Hotel Chinar and Hotel Palace are all located opposite the Railway Station.

For those interested in Dharamsalas, Sri Guru Ram Dass Niwas and Sri Guru Nanak Niwas are under the management of the Golden Temple.

Where to Eat:

Kundan De Dhaba near Rly. Station, Keshar Dhaba near Golden Temple. There are also eating joints like Vaishno Dhaba, Cosy Restaurant and Bharawan da Dhaba that offer delectable Punjabi cuisine.

Try out the Tandoori, Batata Puri, Tikka, Kebbab and the very popular Cream Lassi.

What to Buy:

Locally manufactured woolen blankets and sweaters.