At Amritsar, we decided to make a change to our original plan: To see the Golden Temple next morning and then start off towards Delhi ... and make a night halt before Delhi ... in order to better split the distances to Delhi (447KM) and then to Agra (203KM).
We hoped to night halt at the holy Kurushetra or maybe later at Karnal ... and avoid a very long drive to Delhi and after dark drive in the city for finding a hotel there.
25th Dec 07 > Day-12 : Sri Ganganagar to Wagah - 344Km
We left Ganaganagar hotel at 7:15AM and had a pleasant drive to Amritsar on NH-15 via Abohar, Muktasar, Kot Kapura, Zira, Tarn Taran. Now there was greenery and farmer fields everywhere, unlike the desert scenery of last few days. We encountered our first tyre puncture just as we crossed a railway level crossing at a place called Sukhi. However, it happened just in front of a Sardarji run tyre-repair- shop and he repaired our puncture in a jiffy (just 5 minutes!) and took only Rs 20/- for it. Once we entered Amristsar City at 1:30PM the traffic became chaotic and the roads in a real mess due to construction and crowds. We checked into K.D. Plaza Hotel at Chwok Mahar Singh Gate. The room was pretty ok at Rs 400/- per night.
After lunch, we left for Wagah Border (30Kms further west) at 3:30PM to see the daily "Closing of Border & Flag Lowering Cermony" perfored jointly by the Indian and Pakistani border forces.
There was a huge crowd at Wagah (because of Christmas holiday ?), and the stadium-stands were full on both sides of border with lustily cheering people from the respective countries! It was a colorful cermenony and started at 4;30PM and ended by 5:00PM. This Border gate is on "GT Road" ; the historical road which starts at Lahore in Pakistan and goes all the way to Kolkata! We would be driving down this famous highway (now called NH1 to Delhi and then NH2 Delhi to Kolkata) over the next few days!
26th Dec 07 > Day-13 : Amritsar to Karnal - 336Km
In the morning at 7:30 we took a cycle rickshaw to see the Golden Temple. The morning chill was invigorating ... and the morning sun rays bouncing off the on the Golden Temple was a spectacular sight.
After seeing Golden Temple, we walked to the nearby Jallianwala Bagh and saw the Amar Jyoti and the Martyr's Well there. This is where 379 Indians were killed and over 1500 wounded when General Dyer ordered firing on 13th April 1919.
We drove from Amritsar at 10:15 AM on NH-1 (GT Road) and went past Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Rajpura, Ambala, Pipli and stopped at Karnal for a night halt. We stayed at Hotel Dreamz in Karnal, where we got a double room for Rs 550/- each a night. Tomorrow on to Agra past Delhi.
27th Dec 07 > Day-14 : Karnal - Delhi - Agra 343Km
We left Karnal early at 7:00AM thinking we will have breafast on the way at some Dhaba near Delhi. But it so happened that we reached Delhi in heavy traffic of morning rush hour and our attention got focussed on finding our way from NH-1 to NH-2 via a correct bye-pass. We did manage that; but it was really no bye-pass, just a mad rush of 5 or 6 lanes of slow-moving traffic, over a long distance ... all the way past Faridabad and even beyond. Though, we finally managed some unsatisfactory food in a small wayside Dhaba. Later, we suddenly spotted a Mc. Donald at Mathura, and made a U-turn and had a "lunch" there . Tapan had a his favourite double-dose of Fish Fillet Burger and I had my usual Mc-favorites of Veg Burger, Fries & Strawberry Shake (Large!) . We stopped at Sikanadara, around 2:45PM, to see Akbar's Mausoleum .
We reached Agra at 3:30PM and then followed one of the Agent-Touts (on his M/cycle) to a hotel of his choice, for our Budget of Rs 500. He took us to a Hotel Prakash that loooked sort of decent-ish and even had a small car-parking frontage and so we decided to stay there. While we were planning to relax in the room and see the Taj next day, the front-desk guy surprised us by a warning "tomorrow is friday and Taj is closed"
So we quickly got a Cycle-Rickshaw and went to see Taj immediately (at 4:30PM) for a sunset views of the awesome Taj Mahal (below & left):
We called it a day, after seeing the sun set from Taj Mahal .. .. and decided to see the Agra Fort next morning before leaving for Kanpur. Also decided to skip Fatehpur Sikri as we have both seen that before.
25 GIRT 33d GQ+ >
Days: 12 to 14 of GIRT tour
Sri Ganganagar > Wagah > Amritsar > Karnal > Delhi > Agra