In the Punjab, meat or no meat, you are almost guaranteed a free-for-all of intense colors, flavors and spices.

By the Numbers

  • 400
    Years the Golden Temple’s communal dining hall or Guru ka Langar has been serving people free vegetarian food.
  • 16
    Hours per day the dining hall is open
  • 1.75M
    Total hours they’ve served food, historically

Fact

Village fairs serve as an opportunity for families who live very far apart to come together, eat, and partake in religious rites honoring local deities.

Local Lore

The route to Shimla boasts what is believed to be a haunted tunnel—Barog Tunnel. It is named for the British engineer, known as Colonel Barog, who ordered digging at two ends of a mountain. When both ends did not meet, legend has it that he shot himself. His ghost is said to wander that tunnel and a nearby train station.

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(Photo by Harsha Vadlamani)

Eats

Kulcha Magbool Rd., Old Octroy, Teja Sing Market, Shop No. 1

Amritsar, Punjab, 143001
+91 981 567 2729
What Bourdain ate: Kulcha, a flatbread often served with chickpea curry—a popular local breakfast food

Kesar da Dhaba

Anant Seth Wala Church, Passian
Shastri Market, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, 143006
+91 183 255 2103
What Bourdain ate: Chickpeas, saag (mustard greens), and naan bread

Golden Temple Guru ka Langar

Harmandir Sahib, Atta Mandi, Katra Ahluwalia
Amritsar, Punjab 143006, India
+91 183 255 3957
What Bourdain ate: Assorted vegetarian dishes

Photo by Harsha Vadlamani

Beera Chicken

Majitha Rd., Sehaj Avenue,
Amritsar, Punjab 143001
What Bourdain ate: Local tandoori chicken

Sidekicks

Uday Sripathi: Documentarian.

Kanwar Ratanjit “Reggie” Singh: A hotelier descended from royalty (grandson of the last maharajah of Kapurthala), Singh is the owner of the Chapslee Estate in Shimla.

Sikhs are fundamentally against any caste system, believers in religious tolerance—but they are just as fundamentally war-like when it comes to defending their principles and what they see as their territory.

Lingo

Kesar da dhaba: Local food stall

Gurudwara: A Sikh place of worship

Guru ka Langar: Communal dining hall in a Gurudwara