The iconic Golden Temple, mouth-watering food, colorful markets, a lot of history, humble locals and the famous Wagah Border flag retreat ceremony – sums up all that this holy city of Amritsar has to offer. The Golden Temple alone attracts almost 100,000 visitors on weekends and on other auspicious days, and is laurelled for one of the most visited religious monument in the world.
Amritsar, being a popular destination attracting tourists from all over the world, is well connected by flights from major cities in India and around the world. Check out more about the connectivity on the official website of the airport. It is also well connected by rail as well as road. You can check out various websites to book online via MakeMyTrip (for buses and trains) and IRCTC (official website to book train tickets).
Majority of the tourist spots are located around the center of the city. The hotels can usually help to arrange full day taxis or you can simply take a rickshaw from outside your hotel. We took a cab from the Airport itself and booked it for 2.5 days with us for a total of almost USD 70-80. Using your bargaining skills here will help you to get a good deal 🙂 . For taxis, you can download the OlaCabs app. There is a flexibility to book cabs by per ride or per day (time) basis, based on your preference.
Here are our picks on the top things to do in this vibrant and colourful city.
1. Take in the serenity of Golden Temple:
Hands down this is one of the most serene temples I have ever visited. As the name suggests, this temple is covered in actual gold! A simple silent walk around the manmade lake called ‘Amrit Sarovar’ literally translated to ‘Pool of Holy Nectar’, will give you much needed immense peacefulness and calmness. Just sit on the edge for a while alone and admire the beauty of the view of the temple and imbibe the positive vibes. It’s beyond something that can be explained in words. The feeling is simply amazing. Its equally beautiful early in the morning and when it is all lit in the evening.
Our two cents: It could take hours for you to queue up and visit the temple and come out, so we would recommend to start way early in the morning (~5am) to avoid long queues.
Do not dip your hands/feet in the water, unless you are on a pilgrimage though. Respect the culture and traditions of the place. There will be humble volunteers guiding you everywhere 🙂 – whether it’s on how to tie a cloth on your head while in the temple and other traditions and decorum of the temple.
2. Experience the joys from Seva:
Seva, or selfless service, is an integral part of the Sikh philosophy and religious believes which conforms to the fact that serving others without any expectations in return is part of religious devotion. Golden temple has this concept of giving back, where devotees or any visitors can volunteer to wash dishes, serve water, clean the temple, help other visitors, maintain discipline, serve food or do any other chores to help around at the temple. Not because of the religious sentiments attached to it, but try it as it simply grounds you and is one of a kind experience that’ll bring you joy and humility.
3. Indulge in the Langar at the Golden Temple:
Simplicity is everything and what’s better than having a nice, simple and absolutely free meal at the world’s largest community kitchen. This kitchen serves 50000-60000 mouths irrespective of caste, creed or color and runs 24×7 with the help of volunteers and donations – cash or kind. You will be amazed to see how the whole place is run so efficiently – a unique experience in itself!
4. Shop away at the Local Bazaars:
Amritsar is famous for its colourful dresses (patialas) with a special type of embroidery work called Phulkari! Shop away at Hall Bazaar which is famous for colorful dresses, juttis (shoes), souvenirs and much more. You won’t miss it as it is right along the road to the Golden Temple. Don’t pay at asking price. Instead this is another place where you can utilize your bargaining skills. For clothes specifically, we recommend the colorful and vibrant Katra Jaimal Singh Bazaar. The shops here will alter the purchased clothes within hours and even deliver to your hotel.
5. Fall in love with the local dhaba and street food:
Apart from Golden temple, one thing Amritsar or the whole of Punjab is famous for, is its amazingly delicious cuisine. Street food and the ‘dhaba’ food is must try. There are ones that have been there for years like Kesar Da Dhaba (for vegetarian only) and Bharawan Da Dhaba (for non vegetarian). Lassis are a must have! You would not want to miss the Cholle Kulche (chickpea curry and bread) at Bhai Kulwant Singh Kulchian Wale which is right across Golden temple.
6. Get the authentic Punjabi village experience at Sadda Pind:
We believe a trip is not complete unless you experience and indulge in the culture of the place you visit. Sadda Pind is a set up of a Punjabi village just outside the city bringing you a step closer to experiencing the authentic Punjabi food, listening and dancing to some folklore music, Sikh Martial Art performance and more! So if you are ready to experience the best of Punjabi culture, check out this website for bookings and more information!
7. Are you a History Buff?
Many pages from the Indian history are testimonies that Amritsar has seen a lot of bloodshed and dark days. The partition of India in 1947 and the formation of India- Pakistan was painful and the artifacts in Partition Museum displays some of the tragic moments of those days.
Jallianwala Bagh still holds the bullet marks. This is from the open firing for a duration of about 10 minutes until General Dyer’s troops ran out of ammunition which claimed lives of thousands of unarmed Indians in 1919. Gobindgarh Fort, seems to hold an interesting secret of its own, which you can validate when you visit it. The fort belonged to ‘Bhangi Misl’ or ‘Army of Bhangi’, with its prominent generals addicted to weed in the 1700s – the historical version of ‘Udta Punjab‘?
8. Witness the Patriotism on both sides of the border:
Every evening, the flag retreat and border closure ceremony takes place at the famous Wagah Border, which did find its place in the Lonely Planet magazine! The whole ceremony takes up-to 2 – 3 hours. You will have to arrive much earlier to get a spot in shade, it is very hot especially in peak summers!
Take a taxi from Amritsar and reach the border around 3 PM. Make sure you book online on any of the travel experience websites – to cut some long queues and hours of waiting. The overall experience is one of a kind, to see people across both the borders display a local version of Haka and compete in their own ways!
Our two cents: It is usually very hot especially in summers with no shade, make sure you carry umbrellas/hats, water and sunscreen to protect yourself from the scorching heat!
9. Venture out to the rest of Punjab and Northern India:
There is much more to the state of Punjab and Northern India than Amritsar, it is very well connected by road, rail and flights with rest of the major cities in the North. If you have 1-2 days more visit Chandigarh – the capital city of Punjab and Haryana. If you are looking for a snowy and dreamy Himachal forest experience, cross the border of Punjab and visit Shimla or Dharamshala – just a few hours away!
Happy Exploring! ❤
*This is not in partnership, affiliation or a paid promotion with any of the companies or websites mentioned.
You may also like: