Amritsar is a popular travel destination in Northern India attracting tourists from all over the world. Among one of the largest cities of Punjab, Amritsar captures the heart of many travellers with its spirituality, dignified history, cuisine, and narrow marketplaces. So I’m going to present the top things to do and places to visit in Amritsar and around. Hop on to my Amritsar sightseeing trip –
Amritsar Itinerary – Best Places to visit in Amritsar
Amritsar is an astonishing place that will tickle your senses. The chaos of the old city, the tranquillity in the Golden Temple, the past of the horrific mass murder in the Jalliawallah Bagh and a wonderful ceremony at Indo-Pak border, Amritsar can be overwhelming. So, I have put together this Amritsar itinerary for you to have an amazing sightseeing trip with the must-see places to visit in Amritsar.
Day 1 – Amritsar Sightseeing
Best Places to visit in Amritsar: The Golden Temple
There are a number of sites to visit in Punjab but *Harmandir Sahib* is one of the most famous places to visit in Amritsar city. The city is home to the well-known Sikh Shrine “The Golden Temple” or colloquially known as “Sri Harmandir Sahib”. The temple is built from pure gold and exquisite marble work is visible in and around the temple. The Golden Temple is surrounded by a large holy lake containing “Amrit” or the “holy water” fed from the Ravi river.
Palki Sahib Ceremony
The symbolic ceremony – “Palki Sahib Ceremony” – takes place twice a day, when the holy book “Guru Granth Sahib” carried by Palki Sahib(palanquins) is departed to the Akal Takhat Sahib. After this, the devotees and the Gurudwara staff clean the Harmandir Sahib. During this time, the devotees sing the Gurbani Kirtan (devotional tunes). After this purification, rugs are spread back & Peera Sahib(small cot) is kept where the Guru Granth Sahib is placed back early morning. It is a religious ceremony, not to be missed while visiting the Golden Temple and I would highly recommend as one of the best things to do in Amritsar at night.
An Unforgettable Experience
I would like to share one of the most wonderful experiences from my last visit to The Golden Temple:
“I and my cousins decided to visit The Golden Temple at night, around 8:45 PM. As we were staying nearby, we reached the temple around 9:00 PM. The moment we entered the temple, all those who were inside the temple had to sit down by the gurudwara staff for the “Palki Sahib Ceremony“. We sat there for a good fifteen minutes and the experience was unforgettable. The devotees sang devotional and melodious tunes. I closed my eyes trying to make the connection with The Almighty and immediately felt the positive vibes. I sensed I could speak my heart out to God, share my joys and cry out my problems. I bowed down to offer my prayers and departed towards the lake. The tears in my eyes when we exited the temple was a memorable experience which I’ll always cherish.”
For all those planning to visit the temple, I would suggest going in the night (around 8:30 PM in winters and 9:30 PM in summers) so you might also be to attend the ceremony. I am sure you will not regret including the Golden temple in your Amritsar sightseeing trip.
Best Places to visit in Amritsar: Jallianwala Bagh
This is one of the major tourist attractions in Amritsar associated with the massacre which happened here under the British rule in 1919. It is a memorial set up in 1951 for innocent & unarmed people who died at the hands of the British Indian army. Shockingly they were not the freedom fighters or protestors, they were peacefully celebrating the Baisakhi festival. Jallianwala Bagh(garden) can be an emotional visit for those who still feel connected to history. To connect with an important landmark in the Indian freedom movement, Jallianwala Bagh should be on your list of must-see places to visit in Amritsar.
Best Places to visit in Amritsar: Partition Museum
The first partition museum opened in India in the Holy city of Amritsar on 17 Aug 2017. The one and only museum dedicated to the history of Partition between India & Pakistan should be one of the top things to see in Amritsar. Located in the town hall, the museum brings back so many chilling memories from the era. The entry to the museum is available at as low as 10INR or 150INR for non-Indians. I’d recommend taking a trip to this museum for going down the memory lane, how India used to be before & during Pakistan. This is a new addition to the Amritsar sightseeing places, and highly recommended.
Best Places to visit in Amritsar: Wagah Border
Amritsar is a magnificent town placed in the near to India-Pakistan border, also known as “Wagga Border”. Sightseeing in Amritsar is not limited to Harmandir Sahib, Wagga border is another major tourist attraction and is one of the must-see places to visit in Amritsar.
The “Beating Retreat” or the “lowering of the flags” ceremony is jointly followed by India & Pakistan and is well-known as a symbol of cooperation between the two nations. Wagah is at Indo-Pak border and located 20 km from Amritsar and a taxi will take about 45 minutes from Amritsar to Wagah Border. While visiting the city, make sure to squeeze the Beating Retreat ceremony in your Amritsar itinerary as this charts my list for Amritsar sightseeing places.
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Things to do in Amritsar
Things to do in Amritsar: Try Amritsari Cuisine
The cuisine of the town is popular among the food lovers which will tempt you to return to the city again and again. One of the distinguished dishes is the “Aloo Kulcha” which is a popular Punjabi fat bread prepared using potato stuffing. The dish is usually served with white peas curry (‘chole’) and tamarind water (‘khatta’) and is known for its irresistible flavour. It is said that the authentic Kulchas from Amritsar doesn’t taste the same if cooked anywhere but Amritsar. So I highly recommend having a plate of Kulchas while in the city.
The trip to the Amritsar will be a delight for all the foodies with a variety of delicacies including Kachoris, Naan, Chur Chur Naan, Lassi, Mithais, Chole Bathurey and many more.
Things to do in Amritsar: Shopping in Amritsar’s old markets
Surrounded by twelve historic gates, the old town of Amritsar holds its grace. While wandering around the city, we encounter brightly lit, crowded and narrow markets. Shopping in Amritsar is surely not be missed. There are various things to buy in Amritsar including numerous fabrics and footwears (‘juttis’) and one can easily locate them in the markets. Fancy some boutiques or known brands head to Lawrence Road – which is a posh market for the locals. You’ll also find a variety of eateries there.
The lanes going towards the Golden Temple is now being restored to give the place a vibe of the city centre. The lanes are restored beautifully and are given a more historic architectural theme and a more cultural vibe have also been introduced.
This newly renovated Golden Temple road ends somewhere town hall and going towards Hall Bazaar which locals use extensively for shopping.
Where to Stay in Amritsar
Although there are a number of hotels in Amritsar, yet I would recommend staying near the Golden Temple. A lot of homes are being converted to hotels now, so you’ll easily find any numbers of hotels there. Airbnb has not taken a flight there, so hotels are your best buy. Coming from a family settled in Amritsar, I can recommend Sharma Guest House which is a renowned name near Golden Temple from 45 years (this is not sponsored – I don’t recommend anything which I don’t believe in).
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Where to Eat
Amritsar is a foodie‘s paradise and every corner of Amritsar city will present you with something unique and a variety of places to eat. A number of renowned brands have come up in Amritsar including Mc Donalds, Burger King, Dominos Pizza, Pizza Hut and many others. All these are located in close proximity to Golden Temple and you wouldn’t have to go searching. But I will recommend trying local restaurants like Bharawan da Dhaba – located right at beginning of the new Golden Temple road. If one relishes Indian non-vegetarian food, they will have to look a little farther from Golden Temple as there are no non-vegetarian restaurants near the same. I will suggest Kesar Da Dhaba, Punjabi Dhaba near Hall Bazaar and you’ll also find some near the Ramada Hotel.
How to reach Amritsar
Amritsar is well connected through Buses, trains, and flights. Amritsar is 500 km from Delhi and depending on the medium you choose, the time will vary from 3 hours to 10 hours.
If going via road, you may either hire a cab from Delhi which will take 8-9 hours. If opting buses, I would vouch for the Volvo buses from Punjab Roadways. Volvos are the most convenient buses available in chair car (with recliner), or sleeper ones. Taking an overnight bus to Amritsar will save your day and they will take right to the Amritsar bus stand in 9-10 hours.
If you love trains travel, I will strongly recommend the premium Shatabdi trains – completely AC with Chair car and First Class options – they are the fastest trains available till Amritsar. Don’t opt for any other trains, they have a reputation for getting late which can ruin your plans.
Amritsar also has an international airport which is well connected through domestic & international airlines. If going via Delhi, the normal airtime will not be more than 30-45 mins which will very useful if you plan to visit Amritsar in a day. Amritsar airport is slightly out of the town, with hotels also available nearby and a taxi will take max 25-30 mins to take you to town.
Fly Low Cost to Save time + Money –
I have recently taken an early morning low-carrier Indigo flight from Delhi to Amritsar, which saved my entire day. Low-cost airlines leave from Terminal 1 of Delhi airport and it’s a misconception that there are no/very few night flights from the 1D terminal, unlike the international T3 terminal. Sought by this misconception, I also reached the domestic airport by midnight which actually surprised me when I found difficult to find a sleeper seat to sleep there. So, you’ll not be alone if you wish to crash into the domestic 1D airport and it’s completely safe. Even the shops at the airport open near 3:30 AM, so you can soothe your shopping buds as well in case you’re unable to sleep.
How to Travel in the Amritsar City
Amritsar is an old town with narrow alleys almost everywhere. So, commuting within the city can be troublesome for some. Ola rather than Uber is a preferred medium if you have to go a longer distance. Trikshaws are the best way to go around the city, and they understand basic Hindi or English. There’s another concept of shared auto-Rikshaws where you’ll share the space with another 5-6 odd people, & so I’ll not recommend if you’re not from India. With the recent changes in the infrastructure there, you can also walk around Golden Temple, Jalliawallah Bagh, or till Hall Bazaar.
“The fascinating culture and zeal of the town will give you a long-remembered holiday experience.”
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– The Wanderer
Disclaimer – No recommendations provided in the post are sponsored. I’ve provided my genuine suggestions on restaurants and hotels.