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Amritsar, India

  • (worth a trip)
  • 3-5 km
  • Easy
  • Average
  • 2-3 days
  • 3 3

The hub of Sikhism and one of the most famous weekend destinations in North India

Amritsar Punjab
Amritsar is famous for its culinary delights, When here, you must try the Amritsari Naan, Kulcha, Amritsari Fish, Firnis, and of course Lassi. Try the kulcha at Brother’s Dhaba at Town hall Road, paratha thalis and firni at Kesar da Dhaba, and a proper dining experience at Thai Chi – arguably the city’s best fine dining restaurant.
Before you enter the holy complex of Darbar Sahib (Golden temple), remove your shoes and socks and deposit at the windows near the entrance. Wash your hands if you have used your hands to take off your shoes. Just before you enter the complex, you will see buckets and baskets full of colourful scarves. Use one to cover your head or buy one at one of the shops outside the temple complex. Do not dangle your feet in the holy water and if you must sit beside the tank, sit cross-legged. No camera are allowed inside the main temple but only on the walkways surrounding the tank.

Amritsar, founded in 1577 by the fourth guru of Sikhs, Ram Das, is a city in the state of Punjab in North India, around 465 m from the capital city of India. The city is most famous as the home to the magnificent Golden Temple and also as a witness to the brutal Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

 

The city is divided in two parts with a railway track dissecting them. Old City is home to the famous Golden Temple and other historical sites and is fenced by 12 barbaric posterns, and lies to the south of the tracks. The ‘old city’ is the epicentre of all major tourist activities. Also, it is here that you will find the bright and bustling bazaars of Amritsar and popular food joints.

 

The north of the railway lines is known as the ‘modern’ Amritsar which is a more commercial area with malls and upmarket hotels and restaurants. This also makes the area and roads congested as compared to the ‘old city’ and thus isn’t that popular amongst tourists.

 

Let’s now explore some of the most popular tourist attractions of the city:

    • Golden Temple (dawn to 10:00 P.M approx.)- Golden Temple is only a small portion of a huge Gurudwara (Sikhs’ place of worship) complex popularly known as Darbar Sahib. It is also Sikhism’s holiest shrine and the primary point of interest in all itineraries including a visit to this city. Apart from the Golden temple edifice, the main attraction within the complex is the water tank known as the Amrit Sarovar meaning the pool of Nectar. The tank is also famous because it is believed that the city derives its name from it. Spiritually, it is believed that holy water in the tank has magical healing powers which is why a trip to the shrine is incomplete without a dip in it. The central shrine itself is a spectacular example of fine Hindu and Muslim style of architecture with the a marbled lower lever which showcases intricate motifs and patterns carved into them and the upper level which is covered with sheets of gold (hence the name Golden Temple). Inside, priests and musicians keep the atmosphere soothing by their continuous chants of verses and poems from their holy book ‘Guru Granth Sahib’. There are several smaller shrines and podiums around the complex which hold different gurus and priests of importance to the Sikh religion. At the south east end of the complex is the Guru-ka-langar, a huge dining room, where believers and pilgrims from all around the country, who have come to visit, sit together on the floor and eat after offering their prayers to the temple. There is no fee for it, however, a small donation goes a long way.

 

    • Jallianwala Bagh (summers: 06:00 A.M. to 09:00 P.M, Winters: 07:00 A.M to 08:00 P.M) – Just a few minutes’ walk from the Golden temple is the historic site of Jallianwala Bagh memorial which bears witness to the cruel massacre of 1919 when general Dyer ordered open fire on thousands of men women and innocent children trapped who had assembled here on April 13 of that year (the day of Baisakhi – the main Sikh festival) for a meeting. When General Dyer learnt of the meeting, he attacked the crowd along with 50 riflemen and ordered them to fire until all rounds of their rifles were exhausted. As per reports, it is believed that more than 1500 innocent people died during the shooting. You can still see bullet holes in some of the walls around the park. There is also a well where some people jumped to escape the firing. A light and sound show is held every evening at 6.

 

  • Wagah Border – If you have to come to Amritsar, you must not leave without a visit here, where every afternoon, just around sunset, citizens of India and Pakistan gather around the border of Wagah and Attari, respectively, and indulge in a theatrical showmanship of power and patriotism. In simple language, it is a mix of formal marching, loud stomping, almost comical high-stepping, followed by a flag hoisting ceremony, all the while soldiers on both sides trying to outdo each other to prove superiority. While the participants are very particular and serious about the whole procedure, crowds gather here in large number to cheer their side and boo the other. Considering the tense relations between the two nations, this whole process that is held every day is quite peaceful and movie-like. The ceremony starts around 04:15 P.M during winters and 05:15 P.M during summers. Bring your passport (foreigners) and you will be allowed to sit behind the VIPs, the second best seats in the arena. You can carry your cameras but any sort of bags are prohibited. Use the lockers on your way to the border.


How to get there

Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport or Amritsar airport lies 11 km northwest of the centre and serves domestic as well as international flights. Cities like New Delhi and Mumbai ae connected to this airport.

Regular trains from New Delhi, Varanasi, Kolkata and other nearby cities arrive at Amritsar Junction.

Amritsar is connected to many parts of North India via the bus network. Some of the popular cities that have bus services to and from Amritsar include New Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu, Jaipur, Chamba, Dharamshala, Manali, Pathankot, and Patiala.

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