1 HOUR BY PLANE
Come springtime, there are few jollier places to be than in the heart of Punjab. Amritsar, close to the Pakistan border, has been regarded as a holy place ever since it was founded by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh guru, in the 16th century. Baisakhi, a Sikh spring harvest festival is celebrated in Jallianwala Bagh, a public park, is a riot of colour. The history is a troubled one: this year marks the centenary of the 1919 massacre, when British troops fired into the crowd killing hundreds of civilians. These days the festival is more about partying and feasting: make sure you try sarson ka saag with makki ki roti, mustard greens and maize bread, which are the speciality of the season. Partisans will say that Bharawan da Dhaba or Kesar serve the best versions, but any dhaba should do.
The epicentre of the Sikh religion is the Golden Temple. Take off your shoes to walk round the holy pool, or sit and watch. At dawn and dusk, processions bring the Sikhs’ holy book over a causeway, to chanting and trumpet blasts. You can eat free, seated in rows with worshippers and hungry locals, at the guru ka langar (community kitchen). Pilgrims will be found free lodgings, too, though many visitors will prefer the charms of Ranjit’s Svaasa or the new Hyatt Regency. The Partition Museum is worth a visit, and you could take in the daily border-closing ceremony where Indian Attari meets Pakistani Wagah.