Located at about an hour’s drive from Amritsar and enroute to Dharamshala, Punjabiyat was a very relaxing end to my trip, where I discovered the exciting possibility of connecting the Golden Triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur) with Amritsar via Shekhawati overland for FIT clients. Yes!! Overland where one need not backtrack to Delhi. And for those with time in hand, from Punjabiyat, it is possible to continue all the way by surface to Shimla via Dharamshala and Pragpur.
Punjabiyat quietly located in the fields of rural Punjab (save for the occasional thumping of Punjabi music from the speakers of a distant tractor of a local farmer) relaxes you completely. Small, with just 4 stand-alone air-conditioned cottages with private terraces, it is simple, unpretentious yet stylish, complimented by traditional architecture, good food and unobtrusive service. Once in Amritsar, spend a night here to experience the night ceremony and the positive vibrations of the Golden Temple. It is an experience not to be missed and is best experienced by staying in Amritsar. And don’t forget to climb up to the Dome of the Golden Temple after the night ceremony where one can also see some amazing Sikh Temple Artwork. Have a leisurely breakfast the next day and head to Punjabiyat which is a 2 hour drive from Amritsar. I loved the spectacular sunsets post my afternoon siestas across the fields, whose colours change with the crop of the season. As the pathway of Punjabiyat is lit up with lanterns in the evening, they serve you the most delicious kebabs and wine.
Punjabiyat has inquisitive locals from in and around the area landing here mostly on Sunday afternoons after their prayers in the nearby Sikh temple. The property’s traditional architecture is very rare to see. If there are no guests, the locals are allowed in and they return happy after clicking a few pictures. Punjabiyat is built entirely by mud and mud bricks by a vanishing breed of indigenous construction experts. The mud used for plastering was scooped out from the site where Punjabiyat stands. The layer of mud bricks placed on the roof are made out of wood beams interspersed with smaller wooden frames insulated with a thick layer of mud which keeps the interiors cool when it is hot outside and warm when it is cold outside, just like in the days of the yore.
Punjabiyat does a good mix of food. Lunches are mostly continental. I loved the hummus and pita bread tossed up with small portions of salad, later pasta and a banana cream cake for dessert on the day I arrived. Dinner served inside the spacious lounge is mostly Indian where they include local Punjabi dishes as well. Their Makai ki Roti and Sarso ka Sag; Punjab’s favourite winter dish is highly recommended. The sugarcane juice pudding is a must try too. Breakfast served outside the lounge is leisurely with eggs, breads and cereals or they can do the local fare of Paranthas (a variety of Indian flat bread) straight out of Punjabiyat’s tandoor (oven) to be had with a dollop of white butter from the village. The rooms are spacious and airy with high ceilings and the views uninterrupted; be it from the couch or the superbly comfortable bed, while inside the room or from the verandah while sipping masala tea with freshly made cookies or a having beer watching the sunset or simply enjoying a hearty afternoon siesta post lunch on the charpoy; a traditional bed with knotted ropes which is an essential part of any Punjabi household. One afternoon I was taken to the local Sikh Temple by the Manager of Punjabiyat. There, I met his uncle who had come to offer his prayers. He didn’t ask me where I came from or what my name is. He just gave me a pat on the back and said ‘eat, relax and don’t worry this is Punjab.’ And that’s what you pretty much do at the Punjabiyat.