All the staples of Punjab...

... from phulkari to the Jallianwala Bagh are to be found on Amritsar's Heritage Walk. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the Golden Temple. By Amy Fernandes

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Clockwise: Heritage Walk. left: Harmandir Sahib. Martyrs’ Wall at Jallianwala Bagh

There are few places in the world that take care of your temporal and spiritual needs. Amritsar is one of them. I realised this on my recent and first trip to the city, where on the one hand is the dazzlingly beautiful Golden Temple and on the other, the seam-busting dhabas of the city, and if you want a two-in-one, a langar at the Golden Temple that will have you waddling out in the full wisdom that religion can only be taught on a full stomach.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Two days in the city may sound too short, but you'll find all the landmarks neatly charted in a linear map.

The route to the Golden Temple is a broad flanked corridor called the Heritage Walk. Shops, monuments, historical landmarks like the Partition Museum, the Jallianwala Bagh jostle for attention amid shops selling bangles and juttis, papads and phulkari work, the staples of Punjab. Vendors with the Golden Temple in mind will sell you headscarfs and selfie-sticks. Our guide points out at what look like sandstone buildings. "See those?" he says, "It's window dressing.'' If you look closer, you realise that most buildings along the path have been spruced up with a facade to give it an aged patina. Which is a good thing, because, like a Monet painting, if you get too close, you begin to see disparity and despair behind the facade. The walk-through is also thoughtfully dotted with benches and McDonald's and fast food joints — all vegetarian.

The newly opened Partition Museum, along the way, deserves a reverential stop. Set up by The Arts & Cultural Heritage Trust, it displays quiet reflection in the trauma and chaos of the past. You find it in the object displays, the audio-visuals, cuttings and files that remind you of a disquieting time in Indian history.

Further down the corridor is the Jallianwala Bagh, another smear in India's colonial history. When you spot a mount of skulls in sculpture, brace yourself for the grim history that was. You cannot escape the narrow passage; the morbid reminder of the atrocity. Although the garden inside is blossoming with flowers, the harsh blots of bullets on the Martyrs' Wall sits incongruously with the Edward Scissor-hand-like shrubbery depicting soldiers with guns.

You can easily miss a little pearl of history here — the Saragarhi Memorial Gurudwara. Saragarhi is a story that needs to be told, and will be, again, with the film Battle of Saragarhi starring Randeep Hooda. The memorial is a tribute to the heroes: 21 Sikh soldiers who defended the northwest frontier province of Saragarhi against 4,000 Afghans in a fierce battle in 1897 that lasted for hours.

Step into the melee and a few minutes later, you find a dazzling white marble compound leading to a saracenic spread. Take off your shoes, bind your head in a scarf and prepare to see a jewel more exquisite than the Queen's crown: the Harmandir Sahib aka The Golden Temple.

To say that it takes your breath away is an understatement. Seeing it against the backdrop of a full moon's lusty beams on a golden structure, diamonds dancing on the pond, thousands of people milling around it, is a picture that will stay with me forever. Its history and architecture can be found in any text. What is special, is the experience.

The beauty is not diminished by day. You realise the Harmandir Sahib is not just a beautiful structure, yet to be conferred a UNESCO Heritage site status, but primarily, a place of worship. Unlike other pilgrim spots where there's hustling, bargaining for souls, begging and touts, here, passageways, open spaces, the niches in the sanctum sanctorum inside the temple has devotees either deep in prayer and meditation, or dipping in the surrounding lake, or in seva at the various points of service including the famous langar that feeds thousands daily, sending no one away hungry.

You can't leave without having visited the famous Brothers Dhaba or Bharawan da Dhaba. Stuff yourself, it's what the doctors didn't order, but... Alternatively, the newly opened Taj Swarna, located a mere 15-minute ride away, is a good bet for those who prefer comfort, uninterrupted. Its well-appointed rooms with restaurants and a bar makes it an easy choice. In fact, for those with delicate tummies, the Grand Trunk Road coffee shop can whip up a mean Amritsari thali with all the bells and whistles and none of the heartburn that might follow. The efficient travel desk helped us get to the Wagah border, another must-do in Amritsar.

As you watch the mock-aggression and the change of guard that the drill is famous for, cheered on lustily by patriots on adrenalin rush, you wonder why it's called the Wagah border. Wagah belongs to Pakistan. Atari is the line that belongs to India.

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