Punjab, with its fertile farming land, is one of India's most prosperous states. Home to bhangra music and the brotherhood of the Sikh religion, it has a distinctive and lively culture. Capital city Chandigarh is a modern day planned city that's different to any other in India. However, to get a real taste of Punjab, it's necessary to venture further afield to discover the simplicity and charm of rural life, amidst an ever growing urban life.
Here are 5 popular Punjab tourist places.
2. Wagah Border
Everyday of the year, just before sunset, a flag lowering ceremony takes place at the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan. The Wagah Border ceremony is a popular tourist attraction and side trip from Amritsar. The ceremony lasts for around 45 minutes in total. It starts with high patriotic spirits from sides of the border. Soldiers march towards the gate at the border, which is thrown open when they reach there.
3. Kila Raipur
Located not far from Ludhiana, the small village of Kila Raipur hosts the Rural Olympics every February. This spectacle has earned world-wide recognition. Bullocks, camels, dogs, mules, and other animals competing in highly professional events must be seen to be believed! The adrenaline-pumping bullock cart race is the main attraction. However, the chance to see some really off-beat activities is the hugest draw card.
Patiala is the place to come to explore the royal Punjab of the past. Once one of India's richest princely states, Patiala offers a glorious insight into the history of 18th and 19th century Punjab, particularly the Malwa region. You'll be greeted by opulent palace buildings, gardens and parks.
Don't miss the Moti Bagh Palace which houses an excellent art gallery, and the imposing 10 acre Qila Mubarak complex with its series of palaces, inner fort, and audience hall. Patiala is also famous for the generous Patiala peg of whiskey, Salwar suits with loose pants, pagdi (traditional turban), and paranda (colorful hair decorations for women). Slip-on leather footwear, known as the Patiala jutti, is another hot item.
5. Anandpur Sahib
The village of Anandpur Sahib, around 2 hours from Chandigarh, has been an important pilgrimage place for Sikhs for hundreds of years. Known as the "Holy City of Bliss", it was the birth place of the Khalsa (Sikh brotherhood). The historical gurdwaras (temples) are magnificent, along with the surroundings. Anandpur Sahib is flanked by a 17th century fortress, and framed between a towering mountain range and river.
Visit during Baisaki to catch the carnival like celebrations that take place there. However, the most impressive display of Sikh fearlessness can be seen during Hola Mohalla, held on Holi. Instead of throwing colored powder, be prepared for testosterone fueled mock battles featuring sticks, knives, axes and swords.