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10 Best Things To Do In Amritsar, India - Updated 2019

10 Best Things To Do In Amritsar, India - Updated 2019
Darryl
Darryl
Updated

Amritsar, plainly speaking translates to “Pool of Nectar,” derives its title from the Amrit Sarovar, the holy tank that surrounds the magnificent Golden Temple. First-time visitors to Amritsar could be pardoned for the impression that Amritsar is like any other small town in northern India. Nevertheless, Amritsar stands head and shoulders above any other city, elevating its status and blessed by the presence of the most esteemed Golden Temple.

1. The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib)

The historical Golden Temple is essentially a small part of this huge Gurdwara complex, known to Sikhs as Harmandir Sahib. Spiritually, the focus of attention is the tank that surrounds the gleaming central shrine – the Amrit Sarovar, from which Amritsar takes its name, excavated by the fourth Sikh Guru, Ram Das, in 1577.

Orbited by a marble sidewalk, the tank is said to have therapeutic powers and pilgrims come from across the world to bathe in its sacred waters. Floating at the end of a long causeway, the Golden Temple itself is an enthralling combination of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, with an elegant marble lower level adorned with flower and animal motifs in pietra dura work which can be seen on the Taj Mahal as well. In the gleaming inner sanctum, priests and musicians keep up a continuous chant from the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, adding to the already powerful atmosphere. Given the endless queue of pilgrims, you will most likely get a few minutes within the sanctum where you will be gently advised to exit and make way for other devotees.

The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib)

Address: Golden Temple Rd, Atta Mandi, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, 143006 Punjab, India

Phone: +91 0183 255 3957

Website: The Golden Temple

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

2. Akal Takht

The Guru Granth Sahib is mounted in the temple every morning and returned at night to the Akal Takht, the progressive seat of the Khalsa brotherhood. The ceremony takes place at 5 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. in winters and 4:00 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. in summers. Inside the Akal Takht, you can view an assortment of sacred Sikh weapons. The building was heavily damaged when it was stormed by the Indian army during the Operation Blue Star in 1984. The Sikhs rebuilt the tower from scratch.

Akal Takht

Address: Golden Temple Rd, Atta Mandi, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, 143006 Punjab, India

Phone: +91 0183 255 3957

Website: The Golden Temple

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

3. Jallianwala Bagh

As you step into the narrow passage leading to the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, the first thing you’ll notice is an inscription on a stone plaque: ‘this is the place where the bullets were fired from.’ This poignant park remembers the 1,500 Indians killed or wounded when a British officer, General Dyer ordered his soldiers to shoot unarmed protesters on April 13, 1919. After the event of Indian Independence, this park was turned into a memorial to the people who sacrificed their lives and a memorial designed by American architect Benjamin Polk now stands at the site.

There’s an eternal flame of commemoration, an exposition telling stories of victims, and a Martyrs’ Gallery, with portraits of Independence heroes. The well in which people desperately jumped to escape the gunfire has been preserved inside the park and stands as a sobering reminder of the horrendous event that occurred here. Bullet holes on the wall and in the park well within the Jallianwala Bagh have been marked for visitors to observe.

Jallianwala Bagh

Address: Golden Temple Rd, Amritsar, 143006 Punjab, India

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Website: Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

4. Gobindgarh Fort

This Gobindgarh Fort stands tall even after many years when all other forts that existed during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time tumbled down. The architectural structure of this fort depicts history in its exact sequence from the time of the Independence movement. The architecture follows the military style and has a couple of gateways in quick succession and there are strongholds and huge walls that are fortified on both the layers of architecture here.

There is a popular assumption that one of the two gates, namely the Nalwa Gate and the Keelar Gate, both inspired by Sikh soldiers, is closely linked with a secret underground passageway that could take them to Lahore Tunnel. Researchers and officials who have tried to authenticate these facts do not wish to believe this assumption because their results did not prove the presence of any secret passage. When the British had conquered Punjab, they provided various modifications to the Gobindgarh Fort. The Darbar Hall, Hawa Mahal and the hanging place, known as Phansi Ghar, were all additions made by the British to this fort. This fort was the dwelling place for several Pakistani refugees during partition. The fort was submitted to the Indian Army in October 1948.

Gobindgarh Fort

Address: Old Cantt Rd, Vijay Chowk, Lohgarh Chowk, Gobindgarh Fort, Amritsar, 143001 Punjab, India

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Phone: +91 0183 521 7666

Website: Gobindgarh Fort

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

5. Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum

Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum was originally the summer palace of the first king of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Though it has been subsequently transformed into a museum, the palace is still surrounded by well-maintained garden grounds called the Ram Bagh. The museum holds a fascinating exhibit of arms, armor, paintings, old coins and manuscripts, all of which personally belonged to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The paintings displayed in the galleries of the museum showcase the court and camp of the king, giving insight into the palace’s history and the lifestyle of those who resided within it. Watch out for the famous painting portraying the city of Lahore in this museum.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum

Address: Ram Bagh, Lawrence Road, Amritsar, 143001 Punjab, India

Phone: +91 098727 74777

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Website: Punjab Tourism

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

6. Wagah Border Crossing

Wagah is the border on the grand trunk road that marks the separating line between India and Pakistan, also known as the ‘Berlin Wall of Asia.’ On this border, a departure ceremony called ‘lowering of the flags’ has been held every single evening since 1959. The ceremony has gained a huge fan following and is witnessed by thousands of people every day on both sides of the border.

The departure ceremony starts 30 minutes before sunset. As an overture, public address systems on both sides play their most passionate patriotic songs. The Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers inspire women and children to hold the national flag, sprint towards the gates and dance to Bollywood tracks in celebration. The positive atmosphere might surprise some people who would expect hostility or tension between the residents of India and Pakistan, but this ceremony is steadily a countenance of joy, fun and love for one’s country, without hating the other. The spectacle and splendor attract a large crowd and make for a great display.

Wagah Border Crossing

Address: Hardo Rattan, Amritsar, 143108 Punjab, India

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

7. Guru-Ka-Langar

At the southeast end of the Golden Temple Complex is the Guru-Ka-Langar, a massive dining room where an estimated 100,000 pilgrims come to eat every day after praying at the Golden Temple. There’s no charge to eat here, but a donation is suitable, and voluntary help with the staggering pile of dishes is always appreciated. Catering equally to everyone from paupers to millionaires, it’s a humbling demonstration of the Sikh principles of hospitality, community service and charity. The meals themselves contain simple but sumptuous servings of dal, roti and rajma (kidney beans), handed out by temple workers to diners who sit cross-legged on the floor and eat off stainless steel plates. There are no seating categories, so you could be sharing dining space with anyone from beggars to corporate bosses.

Guru-Ka-Langar

Address: South East extension, Golden Temple Complex, Golden Temple Rd, Atta Mandi, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, 143006 Punjab, India

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

8. Ramgarhia Bunga

Source: Wikipedia

The word Bunga stands for a place to live. Throughout the Sikh Empire, several Sikh Generals and Royal Families erected approximately 99 Bungas in the walled city of Amritsar. The one constructed by Ramgarhia Missal (Sect) provided accommodation to the pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple. Formerly, 22 watch towers were planned to surround the Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) to keep a watch on the enemy (invaders).

However, by the time 20 towers were finished being erected, only the current two towers adjoining Ramgarhia Bunga survived. During an army invasion on Harmandir Sahib in 1984, these two towers were also badly damaged by cannon fires but were restored to their original design. The entire building represents the rare work of Sikh architecture.

Ramgarhia Bunga

Address: Golden Temple Rd, Atta Mandi, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, 143006 Punjab, India

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

9. Ram Tirth Temple



Ram Tirath (Pilgrimage of Rama) is located 13 kilometers (8 miles) west of Amritsar and is believed to be the place where the sage Valmiki had written this mega epic Ramayana. This is also considered to be the place where Rama’s two sons, Luv and Kush, were born. The Ram Tirth Temple houses Sage Valmiki’s hermitage and a well with stairs where Sita took her daily baths. The temple displays scenes from Ramayana for visitor and pilgrims to view. A majority of the pilgrims consider it very auspicious to have a dip in the sacred tank in the early hours of the full moon night. A 9-meter (30-foot) wide path of circumambulation round this sacred tank.

Ram Tirth Temple

Address: Kaler, Amritsar, 143101 Punjab, India

Phone: +91 097580 05977

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

10. Baba Atal Tower

Just outside the Golden Temple Complex, to the south, is the octagonal Baba Atal Tower, constructed in 1784 to commemorate Atal Rai, the son of sixth Sikh Guru Har Gobind, who, according to legend, revived a playmate from the dead, then gave his own life as penance for interfering in God’s designs. The nine levels each represent one year of Atal’s short life.

Baba Atal Tower

Address: Golden Temple Complex, Amritsar Cantt., 143006 Punjab

Phone: +91 097118 52054

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Amritsar and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Amritsar

God fearing, hospitable and with tremendous zest for living

Amritsar is like a diamond with many facades and the essential spirit of the city is found not only in its gurudwaras and temples but also in its galleries, parks, archives, libraries, art, architecture, museums, memorials, havelis, forts, fairs, festivals, traditional lively markets and lip-smacking cuisine. The most governing asset, however, is its people who are friendly, God-fearing, hospitable, hardworking and have a tremendous appetite for living life to the fullest.

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Darryl Gonsalves is a serial entrepreneur and owns Syena-Tech.com a business intelligence consultancy company and Nidago.com a web content solutions providing company both based in Mumbai, India....Read more

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