The holiest city of Punjab and one of the most revered in the world, it borders Pakistan but is extremely peaceful. You can cover the main attractions in one full and long day, but to see the city and get a feel of it and more importantly, the ulterior objective of the visit, to relish and enjoy its food two to three night stay is recommended. Do not expect to go back weighing and measuring the same. If you do, then it means you have not done justice with your visit. Eating well is an important milestone or aspect of your visit and it best done by walking during the day, hoping from one site to another on foot and eating your fill or perhaps more than your fill in local restaurants. J
Key / Quick Facts
~5 million annually
|On Tourist Circuit||
Dry, hot summers & cold winters
|Best time to go||
Late September to March
Golden Temple, Wagah Border, Food, & Food
|Location of Sites||
Center of the City
|Location of Hotels||
Majority within 0.5-2km radius of Golden Temple
Built in late 1500s, the old part of the city has narrow lanes and old buildings. Old city is a walled city, an example of introvert planning architecture where each residential unit offers full defense system against an attack. This part of the city can be and is best explored on foot. Old traditions and way of doing business is still present and should be seen. Apart from the old town, Amritsar has Golden Temple, and also historical buildings in form of fort, palaces, and century old college and the popular International Border where colorful and lively ceremony is held every evening. Night life however is absent from this town.
Point of Interest:
The holiest of the shrines for Sikh. It attracts more worshippers / visitors (~1,00,000 on weekdays) more than even Taj Mahal. The Golden color visible is not gold paint but actual gold, hence the name. Festive days, and weekends tend to be heavily crowded, and on hot afternoon marble heats up, hence walking around and seeing the Gurdwara is not comfortable. Also try to avoid peak evening (7-8pm) hours. Depending on the time of your visit, budget between 40 mins to 2hours for worshipping and seeing the Gurdwara. You can have a leisurely stroll in the corridors of the temple to see the beauty around and absorb the atmosphere of a holy place. After worshipping in the main hall, climb the stairs to see other activities in / of worshipping hall and for the view from the top.
Living example of cruelty of British rule. This specific episode is considered to be most cruel and barbaric in Indian history. This public garden has been maintained well for it’s as it is form. It has a small museum and memorial explaining the history. Bullet marks on the walls too have been preserved. Do not be surprised if you suddenly find yourself in a quiet and peaceful place which seemed hours away only two minutes back.
The two hour Heritage walk will cover all the important attractions of Amritsar around Golden Temple. It will show the old city, covering all aspects of introvert planning, battle sites, traditional bazaar / market and more.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum & Panaroma:
Offers interesting session of war history, and life of Maharaja (King) Ranjit Singh and more through documents / statues / artifacts and also through visuals and sound
Founded in 1892, it is on the way to Wagah border. Do not miss to appreciate and enjoy the architecture of the building. The building is considered to be a gem of Indo – Saracenic revival architecture.
The Beating Retreat / Closing Ceremony – Wagah Border:
Though toned down in order to show case improved relations; this ceremony is still popular with locals and Indians alike. Technically, it is about closing the gates of International border and lowering of flags for the night representing done for the day, closed for business. Practically, it’s about patriotism, and the rapid dance like steps of the soldiers highlighting the rivalry. Soldiers are specifically selected and trained for this ceremony. At its best, soldiers’ legs used to go high above the shoulders, parallel to body, perpendicular to ground, with shout and steps matched for every decibel and inch of the rival if not bettered. But now the intensity has been toned down. Nevertheless, such borders do not exist everywhere, and should not be missed. Michael Palin has described it as ‘carefully choreographed contempt’ in his documentary.
Seating at the stands is free, but for better and closer views, you will need to arrange pass from a local / known person or maybe your hotel. Be prepared for security checks and queues. Advise to reach there by 2:30/3PM to avoid crowd and get good view seating. For ease of Non-Indians, there is separate area reserved near front row. You may be required to show your passport as proof of being a foreigner. In case you are late and area is fully occupied, you will need to find seat in the unreserved area.
This is not something that you see as attraction for many cities. But for Amritsar it is! Your trip is less than half complete till your craving and hunger for more food is not satisfied. To complete this attraction, it is highly recommended that you explore the city by walking. J Serving size is normal as per the definition of locals and not you J
Commuting within City:
With the exception of Khalsa College (~5km from Golden Temple) and Wagha Border all areas are either around Golden Temple, or can be explored only on foot (Old City). For Wagha Border, personal conveyance or cab is required.
Amritsar can be reached by Air from Delhi, or road with buses running from Chandigarh and Delhi. Trains can be boarded from Delhi and Ambala (45km from Chandigarh). Most convenient way to reach from Delhi is to board morning Shatabdi Express. Same train can be boarded from Ambala if you are in Chandigarh.
Hotels and Stay:
Various budget hotels are around Golden Temple. This area is congested, so be sure to check for traffic noise if your room window is towards main / big street.
Five Star hotels are approximately at 4km – 5km from Golden Temple.
Food & Eating:
Bhrawan da Dabha is a must eat at place. Now there are two restaurants next to each other, with second one named as Brothers Dabha. Facing the restaurants, one on your right is the main / best one. Lawrence Road is the other center or area for exploring food options.
Office Location: http://www.punjabtourism.gov.in/dashboard.html#/tourismOffices/101/1
Proceeding Trips – From Amritsar, by road, next possible destinations are:
Chandigarh or Pathankot or Jammu (Jammu & Kashmir)