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Traveling in Punjab independently and safely (need good advice)


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So it looks like I will not be able to avoid going to Punjab to take care of some business matters related to inherited property.

Long story short, I don't feel comfortable taking rides from relatives or staying at their houses. I do not like my relatives and cannot stomach the thought of relying on them. I would like to stay on my own and travel on my own.

Can you guys please offer some good suggestions on how to travel from Delhi airport to Moga safely and independently? And would a small city like Moga have a decent hotel that I can stay at?

I am primarily concerned about people being able to tell that I am an NRI and trying to take advantage of me.

Also, please keep in mind that I am a sabat soorat Singh. Getting targeted by Indian authorities for no reason may sound like an irrational fear, but I am legitimately concerned that they could lock me up simply for being a singh and throw away the key.

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Whether dehli airport or amritsar Airport, both have got a taxi kiosk INSIDE the airport itself.

Once you have collected luggage, the last part of the airport before you exit the airport building, you have the last restaurant or two, currency exchange and also a taxi kiosk. You go to the kiosk and tell them where you need the taxi to - if I remember correctly you get a slip with a number on it and get told to go to the relevant area just outside the airport. Your driver will approach you and should tell you the same number you have on the slip to prove they are your taxi driver. Price will have been arranged inside with the kiosk people already. I'm not sure if the system has changed but the taxi kiosk inside inside airport should definitely be safe I believe.

 

The only issue I can see with the above is that I'm not sure if the airport one will take you all the way to moga (or if they do,not sure if they will give you a difficult rate). In this case what I can suggest is getting the airport taxi to a reputable hotel nearby. E.g. marriot or hyatt etc. Stay the night and get them to arrange you a taxi for your longer journey to moga. 

 

Another option if you land in Sri Amritsar Sahib is to get the airport taxi to take you up to Harmandar Sahib. Once at Harmandar Sahib there is a road where all the saraan (sgpc guesthouses for sangat) are , this is the road which leads up to baba atal rai ji gurdwara /kaulsar sahib gurdwara , it is just to one side of Harmandar Sahib about 3 mins away. On this road there should be some taxi ranks - i have used one there which I think has since closed down, but I would hope any of those stalls would be trustworthy as they are based in quite a prominent position so would probably want to avoid bad pr.

 

Finally india has apps such as uber and an india only equivalent called "ola". There are also big taxi companies like "megacabs" which you can book over the phone.

Dressing as a nihang singh in india generally leads to being dealt with with respect.

As for hotels, you may struggle in moga. Websites like Expedia and booking.com will have hotel listings. Unless someone gives you you recommendation, it is better to stay in a known international chain hotel.on the better end you have marriott, hyatt, Ramada , you also have decent hotels like best western, holiday Inn etc. They are in bigger towns and cities like amritsar Sahib, Jalandhar,  chandigarh, ludhiana etc

 

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14 minutes ago, TuhadaDaas said:

Whether dehli airport or amritsar Airport, both have got a taxi kiosk INSIDE the airport itself.

Once you have collected luggage, the last part of the airport before you exit the airport building, you have the last restaurant or two, currency exchange and also a taxi kiosk. You go to the kiosk and tell them where you need the taxi to - if I remember correctly you get a slip with a number on it and get told to go to the relevant area just outside the airport. Your driver will approach you and should tell you the same number you have on the slip to prove they are your taxi driver. Price will have been arranged inside with the kiosk people already. I'm not sure if the system has changed but the taxi kiosk inside inside airport should definitely be safe I believe.

 

The only issue I can see with the above is that I'm not sure if the airport one will take you all the way to moga (or if they do,not sure if they will give you a difficult rate). In this case what I can suggest is getting the airport taxi to a reputable hotel nearby. E.g. marriot or hyatt etc. Stay the night and get them to arrange you a taxi for your longer journey to moga. 

 

Another option if you land in Sri Amritsar Sahib is to get the airport taxi to take you up to Harmandar Sahib. Once at Harmandar Sahib there is a road where all the saraan (sgpc guesthouses for sangat) are , this is the road which leads up to baba atal rai ji gurdwara /kaulsar sahib gurdwara , it is just to one side of Harmandar Sahib about 3 mins away. On this road there should be some taxi ranks - i have used one there which I think has since closed down, but I would hope any of those stalls would be trustworthy as they are based in quite a prominent position so would probably want to avoid bad pr.

 

Finally india has apps such as uber and an india only equivalent called "ola". There are also big taxi companies like "megacabs" which you can book over the phone.

Dressing as a nihang singh in india generally leads to being dealt with with respect.

 

 

 

Thank you Veer Ji.

Is there any reason for me to be concerned about the taxis? Even though I can speak Punjabi, my accent will immediately give away that I am an NRI. Is there any chance that taxi drivers may try to kidnap me or rob me or anything like that?

The idea of staying at a reputable hotel overnight and going through them sounds good.

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2 minutes ago, californiasardar1 said:

 

Thank you Veer Ji.

Is there any reason for me to be concerned about the taxis? Even though I can speak Punjabi, my accent will immediately give away that I am an NRI. Is there any chance that taxi drivers may try to kidnap me or rob me or anything like that?

The idea of staying the night at a reputable hotel overnight and going through them sounds good.

You are definite right to be concerned about taxi safety.  The suggestions I've given I think are the safest bets,  as airports and hotel taxis are quite official so one would be hope that it should be safer than randoms. Taxis through big companies are also safer.

A hotel like marriot, hyatt etc deals with foreign people all the time and they provide taxi service - this I would imagine is generally one of the safest options.

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12 hours ago, californiasardar1 said:

So it looks like I will not be able to avoid going to Punjab to take care of some business matters related to inherited property.

Long story short, I don't feel comfortable taking rides from relatives or staying at their houses. I do not like my relatives and cannot stomach the thought of relying on them. I would like to stay on my own and travel on my own.

Can you guys please offer some good suggestions on how to travel from Delhi airport to Moga safely and independently? And would a small city like Moga have a decent hotel that I can stay at?

I am primarily concerned about people being able to tell that I am an NRI and trying to take advantage of me.

Also, please keep in mind that I am a sabat soorat Singh. Getting targeted by Indian authorities for no reason may sound like an irrational fear, but I am legitimately concerned that they could lock me up simply for being a singh and throw away the key.

There's bus service called Indo-Canadian operating from Delhi to main cities of Punjab (like Ludhiana). Never tried it but I know people who have and heard it's quite safe and stops along the way at restaurants. From Ludhiana, you can take a local bus to Moga city and book a hotel (don't know much about Punjab hotels as I never stayed in one). You can book online for the bus. 

I've travelled to Punjab for a long time, as a local of that area, it's perfectly safe. Just take normal pre-cautions. Local shop food in Punjab is safe to eat if you can handle oil, masala's, etc. 

You don't have to worry about being targeted because of being Sabat Soorat. Seen plenty of Sabat Soorat men and Nihangs and no one targets them.

Police are not an issue, they don't bother anyone whose trying to get by their life normally. You can keep a few hundred rupees in your pocket just in case you do get into trouble with them in an unlikely incident. 

To blend in,

  • Try to dress like a local. Wear a white Kurta-Pajama or simple western clothing 
  • Pretend you're just visiting from another Indian or Punjab city (don't tell people you're from abroad as you can get overcharged for cheap things)
  • Communicate in local Punjabi as much as possible or speak in an Indian accent if you can't. But some NRI's have accents that give it away easily. 
  • Bargain when you're buying things (apart from food places or if the shop specifically says "fixed price"). Bargaining is great and you can bring down the price by half. 

Lastly, just enjoy your stay, there's a lot of history to explore in Punjab too apart from the mainstream/popular places like Wagah border, Harmandir Sahib or Chandigarh.  

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You're better off going to Amritsar, travelling from Delhi to Punjab is bloody long! You're looking at around 7 hours to Moga versus 2 from Amritsar. I recommend staying in Amritsar for a few nights when you land to see all the Gurdwaras and historical sites before you go to Moga. I stayed at a hotel called Hotel CJ International, you can actually see the Harmandir Sahib from the rooftop of the hotel. 

A lot of people, namely Hindus, speak Hindi in major Punjabi cities like Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana so try to deal with Sikhs as much as possible. Very few people wear Kurta Pyjamas so stick to western clothes. My wife and I used auto rickshaws in Amritsar with no problems regarding safety. 

You could find a hotel in Moga but if you're only there for one or two days then you might as well stay in Ludhiana. 

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