One of the most spiritual cities of the Sikhs, Amritsar was founded in 1577 by the Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. Getting its name from the pool around the iconic Golden Temple which means the ‘holy pool of nectar’, Amritsar is a tourist as well as a spiritual hub for many across the globe.
WHAT TO SEE
What to do
Amritsar in many ways is synonymous with the Golden Temple. This beautiful spiritual temple with its serene environs, large spaces and perfect architecture has a soothing effect on even the most troubled souls. With thousands of pilgrims visiting the temple each day, this stunning complex allows everyone to enter its premise with head covered and shoes removed. The Ghanta Ghar is the main entrance; however, the complex has a total of four entrances. Also known as Harmandir Sahib the Amrit Sarovar is said to have spiritual healing powers and pilgrims from across the globe come to bathe in its waters. The Golden Temple itself lies at the end of the causeway and is a majestic blend of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. The two-storeyed structure topped with the massive 750kg golden dome houses the sacred Guru Granth Sahib or holy book in its inner sanctum. The Guru Granth Sahib is brought in the temple every morning and returned to the Akal Takht at night.
The Sikh Museum lies inside the main entrance and records the history of the Sikh community through its various upheavals. The Ramgarhia Bunga lies at the southeast end of the water tank.
The Gura ka Langur in one corner of the complex is a massive dining room where 100000 pilgrims come to eat. The food is free of cost and the catering is equal for all sections of the society, a unique gesture showcasing the humble and helpful nature of the Sikh community and its believers.
Though the Golden Temple is the main attraction of the city, Amritsar is also known for other tourist and historical destinations. The Jallianwala Bagh a short distance from the temple is the site of the infamous massacre of men, women and children at the hands Edward Harry Dyer in 1919. The site commemorates the 1500 people wounded or killed during one of the most significant freedom struggle movements. The Martyr’s Gallery and the eternal flame are found within the premise.
Ram Bagh the palace grounds of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh is a public park with excellently managed shrubs and greenery around.
The Gobindgarh Fort is situated in the heart of the city and is home to various other monuments and displays, such as the Coin Museum or Toshakhana where once the Kohinoor diamond stood, the Ancient Warfare Museum and Sher e Punjab a show that highlights the achievements and history of the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Mata Temple is a cave temple dedicated to Lal Devi. The temple has a unique experience manoeuvring into the labyrinth of the caves through narrow stairways and mirrored alleys.
Khalsa College with its red sandstone façade is surrounded by grass fields is one of the better known educational institutions of the state. Visit the college for a sense of academia and its imposing grounds and architecture.
The Partition Museum is dedicated to remember the ordeal and harrowing times of the partition. With photographs, artefacts, visual and sound recordings and various other technical means, the museum tells the tales about the partition and its history.
Food and Shopping
Amritsar is an important destination of Punjab and hence has the quintessential Punjabi flavour woven in its social and cultural fabric. The various dhabbas and restaurants are fraught with mouthwatering Punjabi dishes and opulent recipes. Punjabi cuisine is world renowned and there can be no better place to try out the flavours than in the local destinations themselves. And while munching on the parathas or sipping the lassi do not forget to tour the various bazaars and shop for the Punjabi Juttis(shoes) and Phulkaari material and sarees.
Amritsar manifests the larger than life Punjabi social milieu, however, is a poised bearer of stirring spiritual divinity. Its role in the freedom struggle, its strong Sikh connection and its tales of valor and grit make it a wonderful destination.
How to reach
Amritsar is well connected by air to major international and Indian cities. It is also easily accessible via rail and road from major domestic cities.