The Golden Pool of Sikh Culture
Amritsar, literally a Pool of Nectar, derives its name from Amrit Sarovar, the holy tank that surrounds the splendid Golden Temple. Guru Ramdas, the fourth Guru of the Sikh faith, founded Amritsar in 1579. The 400-year-old city of Amritsar is the most important seat of Sikh history and culture. One of the most poignant memorials of free India, Jallianwala Bagh is also located in the city. The Wagah Border, one of the most celebrated and until 1999 the only road link to Pakistan, is located just 28 kilometres away from the city centre. Amritsar district was once a part of the vast area covered by the Indus Valley Civilisation during the early period of history.
Amritsar has a lot of tourist attractions and is a welcoming city towards tourists. The city streets are well maintained and clean, especially around the Golden Temple and its surroundings. The streets here are kept free from the typical busyness of a local market but the markets in the alleyways still remind a visitor of the heyday of a market filled with every local item you can wish for.
Amritsar experiences all the seasons in its extreme. During the summers temperatures rise up to 40 degrees Celsius while in the Winter, it goes down till up to 2 degrees. In fact, Amritsar gets colder than Jammu even though it is at a lower altitude. Summers are too hot to handle and once the monsoon sets in humidity rise as well. This changes with the onset of Autumn in October when the weather gets pleasant.
Amritsar has a rich and colourful history and culture and is often called the gateway to Punjab. Festivals are celebrated with pomp and glory with traditional dances and songs. The Gatka and Giddha forms of dances are quite popular and fun to watch. Being the capital of the Sikh community, Amritsar has a very pious and respectful population. The streets, especially those around the Golden Temple, are kept neat and tidy. Spitting on these streets are strictly prohibited, unlike many destinations in India. Being a historically important city in Punjab, the people here are very well read and helpful to all visitors.
Though Amritsar is not known for its shopping experience, Amritsar has a busy traditional markets selling traditional Punjabi souvenirs and crafts. Beautiful ‘Phulkaari’ (flower design) embroidered sarees and salwar kameez are available in these markets. Amritsari markets are also known for the various Sikh religious items and symbols on sale, especially near the Golden Temple. Aromatic spices are also a speciality here.
Top things do in Amritsar
How to reach
Amritsar is accessible by road, rail and air.
How to Reach by Flight
Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport is just 11 kilometres away from the Amritsar city centre. An increasing number of international flights are being routed through this airport to and from Delhi. Though not comparable to the premium airports in Delhi and Mumbai, the airport is modern and well maintained. Official taxis or autos are scarce but normal taxis could be bargained with for reduced rates. Uber is not available but Ola operates through the city. Buses cost only 15 Rs to and from the city.
How to Reach by Train
Amritsar Junction Railway Station is a major rail travel hub in the province and is well connected with all major stations of Northern India. A number of high-speed trains like the Shatabdis and Jan Shatabdis operate to the city and takes just about 8 hours from Delhi. Mumbai to Amritsar takes well over a day in most cases.
How to Reach by Bus
Buses from all major cities operate to the Amritsar Bus Terminal throughout the day. Direct buses are available from Delhi while most locations in the Northern area are just a days travel from the city.
How to Reach by Road
Well maintained roads lead to Amritsar from all major cities. From Delhi, it only takes a 7-hour drive through the NH44.
How to travel within
Travelling within Amritsar is quite easy. A public bus system has been implemented within the city including a free service from the Golden Temple to the Railway Station. Autos are readily available all around the city. Cycle rickshaws are also quite popular while electric rickshaws are available around the Golden Temple and bus stand areas.
Food and Dining
Amritsar has a fundamentally Punjabi cuisine with staples being dal, chapathi and rice. Being a farming society, the cuisine here is largely vegetarian. Nice soft stuffed parathas, kulchas and rotis served with generous dollops of butter is a common image when you think of Punjabi cuisine. Basmati rice is grown here in abundance and thus dishes based on the rice is quite popular. Non-vegetarian dishes have lesser priority here but the dishes available are rich and reminiscent of the Mughal cuisine.
The culture of providing food for the needy is well inculcated here. Meals are available at the Golden Temple without any charges for everyone who comes in. The only rule here is absolutely no wastage, what is served should always be consumed whatsoever. Servers go around carrying large tumblers of dal, chapathis and rice while a donation box is placed outside if you voluntarily want to donate something for the food. Volunteers are also on spot to wash the plates and clean up the space.
- Brother’s Dhaba or Bhravan Dhaba - for scrumptious Punjabi fares
- Kesar da Dhaba - for dishes prepared in pure ghee
- Moolchand Fish Shop - for fresh fish and chicken prepared to your liking
- Kanha Sweets - for piping hot chana bhatture, sweets and lassi
- Gurdass Ram Jalebi Wale - for its namesake, jalebis
Lassi is the most favoured and consumed drink here. Lassi vendors could be found at every corner and would be available at most Punjabi restaurants.
Alcohol is available in abundance at the various licensed outlets around town.
- Jallianwala Bagh
- Golden Temple and surrounding complex
- Hall Bazaar
- Wagah Border
- Maharajah Ranjit Singh Museum
- Khair-ud-Din Masjid
- Guru ke Mahal