Amritsar is a city in the Indian state of Punjab and is home to the magnificent Golden Temple, the main sanctuary of the Sikh faith, built in the 16th century by Guru Arjan Dev.
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What to see
Amritsar is home to the greatest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple, founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Ram Das . The Gurdwara, towering above the calm waters of a small picturesque lake, shines with a golden sheen that attracts millions of pilgrims from all over the world. This place, so unlike the bustling chaos of India’s bazaars, attracts many tourists, most of whom cite it as the most important point of their trip to India. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the overcrowded streets of the city! The traffic congestion (especially in the densely populated old neighborhoods) and the stench of exhaust fumes are completely exhausting.
The Mughal emperor Akbar himself chose the site for building the city, but in 1761 the Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Durani seized and looted it, and razed the sacred temple to the ground. It was rebuilt in 1764 and in 1802 Maharaja Ranjit Singh covered it with golden copper Maharaja plates – the temple became known as the Golden Temple.
During the riots in Punjab in the early 1980s, separatists who wanted to create an independent Sikh state seized the Golden Temple. They were knocked out by the Indian Army in 1984 in a military operation with terrible consequences: the temple was damaged, which led to violent clashes between Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab, which in turn led to the death of several thousand people (mostly Sikhs).
The old town, where the markets and the Golden Temple are located, is southeast of the train station. It is flanked by a circular road; this was once the site of the massive city walls long ago. North of the train station is the new part of town with many prestigious hotels. There is Lawrence Rd, famous for its restaurants and stores. The bus station is 2 km east of the train station.
Not far from the Golden Temple the Jallianwala Bagh Park has been laid out in memory of the Indians who were killed or maimed here, on this very spot, by the British authorities in 1919. You can still see bullet holes in the memorial wall, just as you can see bullet holes in the walls of the well where desperate people jumped to escape the lead. In the park, the eternal flame of remembrance burns. There is also the Martyrs’ Gallery (6 a.m. – 9 p.m. in summer, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. in winter) – eyewitness accounts and photographs will reveal the truth about the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Panorama of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Ram Bagh)
Admission Rs. 10; 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tue – Sat.
On the territory of Ram Bagh Park is an amazing panorama of Maharaja Ranjit Singh dedicated to the “Lion of Punj6a” (1780-1839) . On the second floor is a panorama of colossal size with sound accompaniment (imagine people’s shouts and horses roaring as they do in battle) . It depicts battle scenes, including the capture of Fort Multan by the Maharajas in 1818. Children especially those who are interested in military affairs will find it very interesting. On the first floor is an exhibition of paintings and dioramas.
No shoes are allowed to enter and cameras are not allowed.
The temple of mata
is open from dawn till dusk
This Hindu cave labyrinth temple is a reminder of the woman who lived in the XX century – Saint Lal Devi (Lai Devi). Women wishing to become pregnant come here to pray to her. The circuitous route to the shrine is through caves filled to the ankles with water, through low tunnels, stairs, passages and dungeons, the last of which turns out to be a spacious cave.
Durgiana Mandir Temple
is open from dawn till dusk
The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga. This 16th century structure, surrounded by a sacred lake, somewhat reminiscent of the Golden Temple of the Sikhs. It is sometimes called the Silver Temple because of its carved silver-plated doors. Visit the temple during bhajan (religious chanting) – daily from 7:30 to about 9:30 and from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Sanjay of the Grand Hotel will offer you interesting and advantageous excursions that include a visit to the Atgari Wagah border closing ceremony, the Mata Temple and an overnight visit to the Golden Temple, from 500 rupees per person. One day tours include visits to the Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh Park and the Durgian Mandir Temple. Individual tours to Dharamsala, Dalhousie and Manali are also available.
Where to Stay
Most of the cheap hotels in Amritsar are in the bustling market in the old town near the Golden Temple. Stock up on earplugs!
Where to eat
Amritsar is known for its dhabas (dhabas; eateries) like Punjab Dhaba (Goal Hatti Chowk), Kesar Da Dhaba (Passian Chowk) and Brother Dhaba (Town Hall Chowk); all are predominantly Indian and all have thali dishes, price range from Rs 65 to Rs 110; open from early morning to late evening. Brothers’ is considered a favorite. Hotels and restaurants near the sacred Golden Temple do not sell alcohol; elsewhere, beer may be hidden in a paper bag.
The town is also famous for its special dish ‘amritsari’ (fish with lemon, chilli, garlic and ginger in a deep fryer); the stalls where it is served are not hard to find by smell (there are especially many in the old town) .
If you feel like wandering through the narrow streets of ancient Indian markets, be prepared to get lost in your own senses. Amritsar has stores for every taste, selling everything from religious paintings to jootis. The best place to sell jootis is around Gandhi Gate, also called Hall Gate. The cheapest jootis can be bought here for Rs. 200. At the Katra Jaimal Singh Bazaar you can buy salwar kami and sarees, and stores selling more modern clothes along Lawrence Rd and Mall Rd.
Cyber Swing (Old Town, 40 rupees per hour; 9.30am – 10pm) On the top floor above the Punjabi Rasoi restaurant.
Fortis Escort Hospital (2573901; Majitha Verka Bypass)
ATMs pop up like mushrooms after the rain in Amritsar:
- HDFC (Golden Temple branch; 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Mon-Sat) Traveler’s check and currency exchange; ATM available.
- ICICI ATM network (Lawrence Rd) Located in the old town near the Hotel City Heart.
The following studios sell memory cards and camera batteries:
- SS Colour Lab (2401515, 104 Lawrence Rd; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon-Sat.)
- Unique Colour Lab (2223263; MMM Rd; 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mon-Sat, 2-8:30 p.m. Sat) Near the Indian Academy of Fine Arts.
Amritsar Main Post Office; 2566032; Court Rd; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon-Fri, until 2 p.m. Sat.
Post office; Phawara Chowk; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon-Sat.
Tourist office (Tourist office; 2402452; exit from train station, Queens Rd; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon-Sat. – Sat) . Good free maps of Punjab and Amritsar are available.
Directions there and back
Sri Guru Ram Dass JeeInternational Airport in Amritsar serves domestic and international flights. A one-way ticket to Delhi/Mumbai will cost around Rs 3,200/7800.
- Air India (2508122; www.airindia.in; MK Hotel, Ranjit Ave)
- Indian Airlines (2213392; www.indianair lines.nic.in; 39A Court Rd) Jet Airways (2508003; www.jetairways.com; Ranjit Ave)
- Kingfisher Airlines (080-39008888; www.flykingfisher.com; airport)
The main bus station is on GT Rd about 2 km north of the Golden Temple. There are frequent buses to Delhi (non-air-conditioned/air-conditioned Rs 305/665, 10h) , Chandigarh (non-air-conditioned/air-conditioned Rs 175/150, 7h) , Pathankot (Rs 65, Zh) and Jammu (Jammu; Rs 120, 6h) .
As for Himachal Pradesh, at least one bus runs daily to Dalhousie (Rs 165, 6h) , Dharamsala (Rs 165, 6h) , Shimla (Rs 265, 10h) and Manali (Rs 380, 14h) .
Private buses offer the same or higher fares. There are daily buses to Delhi from the nearest train station at 10 p.m. Other private buses, including those to Chandigarh and Jammu, depart from Gandhi Gate.
In addition to the noisy ticket booths at the train station, there is another ticket booth (8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. to 2 p.m.), and it is located in the Golden Temple.
The fastest train to Delhi is Shatabdi Express (departure 5.10, seated car standard / suite 570/1095 rupees; 17.00, 675/1260 rupees; 5 hrs. 45 min.) runs twice a day. A daily Amritsar-Howrah Mail train runs between Amritsar and Lucknow (sleeper coach/3rd class with air conditioning/2nd class with air conditioning Rs 310/825/1158, 16.5 hrs) , Varanasi (Rs 365/998/1373, 22 hrs) and Howrah (Rs 489/1346/1857, 37 hrs) .
Getting around the city
A free bus runs from the train station and bus station to the Golden Temple every 20 minutes from 4:30 to 9:30 pm. The bus is bright yellow and is almost always full. There are other ways to get to the Golden Temple: there are bicycle rickshaws (about Rs 30), auto rickshaws (Rs 50) and cabs (01835151515; Rs 120) from the station to the Golden Temple. If you need to go to the airport, an auto rickshaw will cost 200 rupees and a cab 500 rupees.
The holy city of Amritsar, India.
Amritsar is a sacred city of militant religion, a place of battles and pilgrimage. The city of Amritsar is constantly in the thick of events, most often in military and religious conflicts. It is named after Amrit (“nectar of immortality”), which fills the lake of the temple complex Harmandir Sahib, better known as the Golden Temple, one of the most beautiful sights in India.
We entered the city of Amritsar in the afternoon and immediately plunged into the crazy rhythm of the city. A crowd… no not that… HUNDREDS of people, a chaos of cars, motorcycles, mopeds, rickshaws, bicycles, vendors of “something”. And it’s all moving, turning, rushing, driving, running. And the sounds! The relentless “bee-bee,” “bee-bee,” “bee-bee,” “brr”-all honking. This is a kind of language: I turn, I’m going to overtake, where did you go! The brightness of colors also amazes: colorful saris for women and colorful turbans (the correct name – dastar) for men.
1 | A brief historical overview
Amritsar (northwest India, Pinjab state) is the holy city of the Sikhs (you can read about Sikhism in the article Sikhism – the religion of the good people). Amritsar was founded in 1577 by one of the gurus of Sikhism. From 1716 until 1849 the city was the center of the Sikh state until the state was destroyed by the British. Since 1947 several serious conflicts (between Muslims and Sikhs, separatists and the army) have erupted in Amritsar. After all, when the partition of British India into India and Pakistan occurred, half of the city’s residents, all Muslims, had to move to Pakistan.
2 | Amritsar – the holy city and the Golden Temple
Amritsar means “the source of the nectar of immortality. Amrit (“nectar of immortality”) is the water of the Harmandir Sahib Temple complex, commonly known as the “Golden Temple” (read about the temple in the article – The Golden Temple of Amritsar).
Hundreds of pilgrims flock to the Golden Temple every day and surprisingly few foreign tourists. According to some reports, more than 100,000 people visit the Abode of God on a day off. Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) is the main attraction of Amritsar and one of the most beautiful sights in India.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) is the main attraction of Amritsar and one of the most beautiful sights in India.
3 | Attractions of Amritsar and surroundings:
In Amritsar, apart from the Harmandir Sahib complex, there are other temples and a fort (the fort is currently under reconstruction), but they all pale in comparison to the Golden Temple. Most tourists come to Amritsar just to visit Harmandir Sahib.
If you want to explore Amritsar thoroughly, then pay attention to the following attractions:
- Jallianwala Bagh Public Garden and Memorial in memory of the civilians shot by the British military in April 1919.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum, the guru who founded the Sikh empire.
- The temple of Goddess Durga (Shree Durgiana Tirath), which resembles the Golden Temple in style and is also located in the middle of the lake.
- Khalsa College was founded in 1890. – It is a castle-like building, a fine example of Indo-Saracenic style.
- A sight to behold is the closure of the India-Pakistan border (in the village of Wagah, 35 km from Amritsar, every day at 5:00 pm).
- If you think it’s worth adding to the list of attractions in Amritsar, write about it in the comments below.
4 | Amritsar City Walk
Otherwise, Amritsar is like many other cities in India – crowded, noisy, dirty. Many buildings look like they were bombed and yet people live in them and stores and workshops are open.
Many buildings look like they were bombed and yet people live in them and stores and workshops are open.
At the train station there are crowds of people who need to go somewhere. All at the same time. If you are planning to come to Amritsar by train, it is better to buy tickets in advance.
Amritsar Railway Station.
Amritsar has rickshaws and cabs. Theoretically there are also buses, but not everyone can figure out their routes.
The main modes of transport in Amritsar are rickshaws and cabs.
5 | Amritsar in facts:
- Population: 1.1 million (as of 2011).
- Amritsar is the largest city in the state of Punjab.
- Amritsar is only 35 kilometers from the India-Pakistan border.
- The climate is arid, semi-arid with a monsoon and rainy season from July to September.
- The hottest months (up to +45 ° C): April through June.
- The coldest months of the year (-3°C to +15°C): November to March.
6 | How to get to Amritsar:
- By plane: Amritsar has an international airport that receives flights from Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi, and Mumbai. Find cheap airfare with aviasales.
- By train: the fastest train Delhi to Amritsar is the Shatabdi express. It takes 6 hours and departs from Delhi daily at 7:20 and 16:30. The Amritsar express leaves for Delhi daily at 5:00 and 4:50 pm. There are a dozen other less comfortable and slower trains Amritsar – Delhi. Tickets can be purchased at the train station and at the train office at the Golden Temple.
- By car: From Delhi to Amritsar, take about 6-7 hours on the NH-1 highway.
- By bus: there are daily buses from Delhi to Amritsar (the journey takes about 10 hours).
8 | Where and at which hotels in Amritsar is best to stay:
It will be most convenient to choose a hotel in close proximity to the Golden Temple so that you don’t have to baffle yourself with the issue of transportation to Amritsar’s main attraction.