All of a sudden, while having tea in the evening, we felt we should go for a trip. Ma had come over from Kolkata and thus it was even better reason. We started discussing where we should go. Riya and Ranoo wanted to go to Goa. Ma was not interested. So, we dropped Goa. The next choice expressed was Sikkim. We dropped it as we would spend a lot of time on the road reach Sikkim and come back. Ultimately, we decided on Simla.
Deepshree had never gone beyond Delhi in the north of India. So, Simla was a good choice.
The next morning I quickly purchased tickets for 5 of us on Air Vistara. The choice was between Vistara and Indigo. The Vistara fare was cheaper by about Rs. 15,000. As soon as I had purchased the air tickets and was proceeding to make the hotel bookings, Riya declared that she cannot go as she had aviation classes starting on next Monday which she could not miss. Negotiating with her was futile and I did not press it as well as I appreciate this commitment. So, I cancelled Riya’s and Ma’s ticket. We lost about Rs. 25,000.
Then, I booked our hotel. Our plan was to start from Bangalore on 2-Dec-2018 and reach Chandigarh (with stop over at Delhi) on 2-Dec-2018 afternoon. We would stay at Taj Chandigarh on 2-Dec-2018. At 5:45 AM on 3-Dec-2018, we would proceed to Simla by Train from Kalka to reach Simla by about 10:45 AM. We booked to stay at Radisson Jazz at Simla. We would return from Simla on 5-Dec-2018 by train to reach Chandigarh (via Kalka) by 12 midnight and stay at Taj Chandigarh. We would return to Bangalore from Chandigarh (with stop over at Delhi) on 7-Dec-2018.
On 2-Dec-2018, our flight started on time from Bangalore. We reached Delhi on time as well. Then we had a 4 hour stop over at Delhi. By the time we reached Chandigarh, it was about 2:45 PM. While collecting our baggage, I booked a Uber cab to take us to Taj Chandigarh. Our cab driver was Mr. Gurpreet Singh. His father was a Security Officer for the Punjab Chief Minister. He studied Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) in the morning and drove taxi in the day time.
I asked Gurpreet how much time it would take to reach Amritsar from Chandigarh. He told me that Amritsar was about 250 KM from Chandigarh and thus I calculated that it would take between 4 and 5 hour to reach Amritsar. So, it was highly possible to make a trip to Amritsar within one day and we had the complete day of 6-Dec-2018.
I asked Gurpreet whether he could take us to Amritsar and he replied affirmatively. When I enquired how much he would charge, he told me that for the complete trip he would charge us Rs. 6,000. So, I confirmed to him that we would make the trip to Amritsar with him.
At 2:30 PM on 5-Dec-2018, I phoned to Gurpreet to find out whether our trip to Amritsar was on. He replied affirmatively.
Our train from Simla reached Kalka on time at 10:45 PM. Taj Chandigarh had arranged a car to pick us up. By the time, we reach the hotel, it was about 12 midnight. We slept that night to get up at 4 AM next morning and get ready. We were to start at 5 AM. However, by the time we could start, it was 6 AM.
We reached Amritsar at about 10:30 AM. We straight headed for the Golden Temple. To reach the Golden Temple, we needed to pass through very narrow roads. This was quite tough. Then, it was even more tough to find a parking for the car. Anyway, we managed to find a parking. We had to pay Rs. 50 for parking. All the toll charges and parking charges were borne by Gurpreet.
We entered the Golden Temple at about 11:30 AM. We had to cover our head with head gears before entering the temple. Deepshree and Ranoo took head gear from the stall. I tied my handkerchief on my head.
We walked around the Golden Temple. We reached the prasad counter. I stood in the line and purchased a coupon for Rs. 200. On presenting the coupon, they gave me a 2 plates of halwa. We walked to the entrance of the temple. Here they took the plates of halwa and put it in the bin. Then, they gave each of us some prasad which we ate.
Then, we stood in the line to enter the Golden Temple.
We stood in the queue for nearly 45 minutes before could enter the Golden Temple. Photography is prohibited here. We offered our prayers and came out.
Opposite the Golden Temple is the Akal Takth (The Parliaments of the Sikhs). We entered the Akal Takth.
Then we walked over the Museum of the Sikhs. We entered this place and looked around.
Then we headed for the Langar (Lunch Room). While entering, they gave each of us a Plate, a Bowl and a Spoon. We sat on the floor. They served Sabji and Rotis. When we finished, they gave us Rice. Then, they gave us Kheer. It was a sumptuous lunch.