Travel

Revel in the yellow mustard fields of rural Punjab

A farmer walks through his fully blossomed mustard field in Rupnagar district of Punjab

A farmer walks through his fully blossomed mustard field in Rupnagar district of Punjab   | Photo Credit: AKHILESH KUMAR

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With the Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Corridor opening soon, a look at a holiday in rural Punjab that has enough memories to fill the family album

A visit to Punjab for me is never complete without stopping by fields. Blame it on Yash Raj for romanticising the sārasōna dē khētara (mustard fields) with peppy yellow flowers and billowy winds. So, when a winter visit was being planned, rural Punjab was definitely on the itinerary.

Factfile
  • Gurdaspur is famous for its experiential farm stays. The Punjab Tourism body recommends you experience the countryside in its full glory here by “diving into traditional activities like tonga rides, kite flying, milking a cow and taking a dip in the tubewell tank”.
  • A place of historical prominence, Gurdaspur shares boundaries with Pathankot, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar and Pakistan.
  • The Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Corridor from Gurdaspur district to the International Border is scheduled to open shortly.
  • It was in Gurdaspur that 13-year-old Akbar was believed to have been crowned Mughal emperor.
  • The place is spiritually significant with the presence of many gurudwaras and temples. The most famous gurudwara is the Gurudwara Dera Baba Nanak, 45 km west of Gurdaspur city in the town of Dera Baba Nanak. The gurudwara was built in memory of the first Sikh guru.
  • The Keshopur natural wetlands is about 5 km from Gurdaspur city, home to migratory birds like black ibis, painted stork and common teal.
  • According to statistics from Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Government of Punjab, there were 66,470 tourists to Gurdaspur district in 2018, up from 53,766 in 2017.
  • A 2.5-hour ride from Gurdaspur will take you to Pathankot, another place of historical importance. While here, one can visit Mukteshwar Mahadev Temple, Pandava Caves, Ranjit Sagar dam and Shahpurkandi fort.
  • Amritsar is about one-and-a-half hours by road from Gurdaspur. When you are in Amritsar, visits to Jallianwala Bagh and Golden Temple are mandatory.

At the risk of sounding clichéd, village visits for weary city dwellers can be an uplifting experience. Our stay in a traditional Punjabi kothi (an ancestral red-bricked home with an open courtyard), in the heart of Nawanpind Sardaran, in Gurdaspur district, proved to be just that — in the midst of lush pastoral landscapes, the chirping of birds of various hues, and the strains of percussion instruments in the air.

Gurdaspur is the northernmost district of Punjab, flanked by the Beas and Ravi rivers. Nawanpind Sardaran is about 10 kilometres from Gurdaspur tehsil. We were a family of eight who spent our time taking long leisurely walks across mustard fields, waving at tractors rumbling by, and crunching sugarcane.

Revel in the yellow mustard fields of rural Punjab
 

Rural Punjab is a gastronomic delight. At the kothi, we were treated to simple yet delicious home-cooked meals, including the famed sarson ka saag and makki ki roti, the butter oozing from them.

Eat, sleep, walk, followed by more eat, sleep, walk. And then sip hot chai on the charpoy. This is what we did in the two days we spent there. The adults also managed to find time to read, while the children ran around with complete abandon.

 

The weather was cold and all of us were layered from top to toe. In winter, temperatures can plunge to below zero, but that is precisely what we sun-battered ‘Madrasis’ were craving.

Imagine being huddled together in a tractor at sundown. As the temperature dipped and the tractor meandered through canals and fields, our spirits soared. Finally, we rushed into the kothi for some much-needed warmth by the fire.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 7:00:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/colours-from-the-mustard-fields-of-rural-punjab/article29899209.ece

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