Patiala is a royal city in Punjab. It is known for its fashionable women and the markets that help them stay fashionable. Places to visit in Patiala are many like the forts and palaces that dot this still small city. There are Havelis, sweet shops and lots of markets.
Places to visit in Patiala
Come with me to explore this heritage city of Punjab – Patiala.
Gurudwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib
I did not plan it this way, but Gurudwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib is the first thing we visited on our Patiala trip. It is a very big Gurudwara and an even bigger tank. Devotees come here from far and wide in search of solutions for their problems. Once the problem is sorted, they come back to say thank you, by taking a dip in the Holy Sarovar.
It is particularly believed that any childless couple can ask for a boon of a child by coming here for 5 consecutive Panchami’s i.e. 5th day of the lunar month for 5 months.
History of Gurudwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib
Gurudwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib is the oldest living part of the city of Patiala. It is believed that the village that existed near the site of Gurudwara was always full of sickness and poverty. Once Guru Tegh Bahadur visited Bahadurgarh that is located not too far from here. Bhag Ram – a man from the village requested Guru Tegh Bahadur to visit the village and bless it. Guru Tegh Bahadur came and sat under a Banyan Tree next to a pond. The village started getting out of its bad luck.
Since then the pond waters are supposed to have curative powers. Even today, you are not allowed to put anything in the pond or sit with your feet dipped in the pond.
There is a small museum in the gurudwara premises that narrates the history of Sikhism.
We went all around the marble-floored premises. It was a cold January day but the warmth of devotion was all around us. People were comfortably sitting inside and outside listening to the singing of Gurbani. I too sat down for a while and felt a certain sense of peace. However, my salvation came in eating the Kadha Prasad – the one that you only get at Gurudwaras.
There is an eternal flame or Jot that is burning at the original spot where Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji sat. Anyone can contribute the ghee to this.
At places, the marble has colorful patterns in inlay work. Some ceilings have ornate glasswork. The main dome above the Guru Granth Sahib is in gold. The overall ambiance though remains pristine white.
For more information refer to the Gurudwara website.
Mohindra college was not on my itinerary. If you are an architecture enthusiast, you cannot pass by this beautiful building without stopping here. This 1875 CE established college is one of the oldest educational institutes in the country.
Named after the then Maharaja of Patiala Mohindra Singh, this college building speaks of the colonial times that it was born in. Can you believe it was the only college of its kind on the whole of North India and was affiliated with Calcutta University? It also provided free education until 1937. I am told girls still get a free education here.
It was a pleasure to walk in the lawns of this historic Institute of knowledge as the students went around attending classes and soaking in the winter sun.
Patiala Heritage Walk
We started our day with the city heritage walk that goes through the royal memorials at Shahi Samadhan, old Havelis, eateries, and ends at the heart of the city – Qila Mubarak.
Read More – Patiala Heritage Walk
The Sheesh Mahal is what I remembered most vividly from my childhood. Incidentally, I could only see it from outside this time as the monument was under renovation. I could see the pink building with two towering minarets that look like the bastions of a fort. Stucco work and latticework on balconies can be seen.
From the outside it looks like a small palace, but as and when it is restored, one needs to see the famous Sheesh Mahal.
A narrow hanging bridge connects the lake to the other side. This too was under maintenance. The pond below was dry and I could only imagine the time it was full of water and you walk on the narrow bridge. In the evenings, it must have been very romantic.
Old Moti Bagh or NSNIS Campus
You have probably heard of Neta Ji Subhash National Institute of Sports at Patiala. Almost every sports-based film in India, except of course the Cricket based films, feature this. Well, I would say this is the Kashi of sportspersons in India.
Originally, it was a huge palace of the Maharaja of Patiala called Moti Bagh. Today apart from the academy, there is a sports museum. I am not aware of any other sports museum in India. It documents the sports achievements of India. It is interesting to see Appu – the mascot of 1982 Asian Games, or photographs of P T Usha or Milkha Singh.
An old railway wagon stands in the lawns of Old Moti Bagh. In green color, it tells an amusing tale. Apparently, when railways first came to the region, Bhupendra Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala challenged the British person for a race – he on his new wagon and Maharaja on his horse. Maharaja won and got to keep the wagon. Since then, it is a trophy that is standing in the lawns of Maharaja’s palace.
Gates of Patiala
While driving around we stopped at the various gates of the city. The wall no longer exists but the traffic still passes through these gates as if entering and exiting the city.
This fort is located few kilometers away from the main city. It is now a Police training institute so the access is limited to it. We could go inside the fort to visit the Gurudwara. The fort walls made of small bricks still look strong.
Kali Devi Mandir
Kali Devi is an ancient temple in the town. It is said the idol of Kali Devi was brought here from Kolkata. There is a similar idol of Devi at Calcutta Kali Ghat with her tongue out.
This is a huge temple, where alcohol is offered to the Devi. However, I have never seen a cleaner temple in India. The Prasad is given in small packs with a cleanliness message written on it. It was a pleasure to walk on the floor knowing that no food is littered there. Behind the main temple are the smaller temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and his family.
Soot Ke Laddu is a special Laddu that you get mostly in this town only. While everyone in the city would take you to Gopal Sweets, I would say go to the Pammi Poorian Wala and pick these Laddus. They are the best gifts from the town.
Satrangi Gol Gappe is a small shop whose claim to fame is the Gol Gappe or Pani Puri with 7 different types of water in it:
- Jeera or Cummins
- Pudina or Mint
- Hing or Asafoetida
- Kali Mirch or Black Pepper
- Meetha or Sweet
- Dahi Wala or with Curd
I must say the Gol Gappas at Satrangi is a must-have on your itinerary of the place.
Nearby Places to visit in Patiala
You can not visit Punjab without visiting its fields. So we headed towards a farmhouse, but the joy was to meet us on the way.
We stopped at a Gur Making unit right by the roadside. This was the first time when I saw the Gur being made. Within half an hour the fresh sugarcane juice becomes jaggery through a simple process of heating it and cooling it. It was fun to lick off fresh from the pan. Not to mention the Punjabi hospitality where we were first offered fresh sugarcane juice and then tea.
Video of Jaggery Making
Later we would pick up the dry fruit Gur from a shop in the town that I am still relishing as my dessert at home.
We chose to eat Sugarcane or Ganna the desi way. Only in Punjab, can you pick up sugarcane from someone’s field and they will come and offer you another one.
We strayed into some fields where workers from Bihar were harvesting the potato. While the main harvesting was being done by the machine, the picking and sorting were being done manually. It was fun to stand in the fields of the food bowl of India.
When we reached the farmhouse, it turned out to be a hot venue for pre-wedding shoots. It was amusing to see the amount of setup done, a number of cameras including drones being used and the other paraphernalia like royal looking jeeps and rugged motorbikes. I got no feeling of being in a farmhouse, but it was nice to see this side of emerging Punjab.
Only in Punjab Moments
On the road, we met these gentlemen who gave us some ‘Only in Punjab’ moments.
A whole shop on a motorbike.
I can stand and direct my bike through the traffic.
Apart from these places to visit in Patiala, we visited the Adalat Bazaar for shopping, but that would need another post.
Recommend you read the following Places to visit in Punjab.