Amritsar - City of the Golden Temple

Amritsar Airport Directory (ATQ)
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The historic city has witnessed some of the defining moments of our country – from the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh to the Partition to the Operation Bluestar. But it's not just about history. Amritsar is famous for its food, be it the kulchas swimming in white butter or ghee, the Sarson ka saag, the lassi or the multitude of meaty delights. And then, there's the shopping. It can be a bit confusing, but it's not a large city, so if you know exactly where to go, you can make the most of your stay.

Best time to visit: To enjoy the best weather in Amritsar, you should plan your visit from October to March.

How to reach Amritsar

  • Flights to Amritsar: Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport is the nearest airport to Amritsar, about 11km (15-20minutes drive) from the city centre. IndiGo now operates 49 weekly non-stop flights between Amritsar and Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Srinagar, Guwahati, and Dubai and seamless connections to other cities in the country.
  • By train: Amritsar is one of the principal railway station, connected with all the major Indian cities through several daily trains.
  • By bus: Amritsar has an extensive network of buses including Volvo buses, that connects the city to the all other prime towns.
  • Getting around/local transport in Amritsar: Auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are the city's two main transportation modes. And there is a free bus service by Golden Temple trust from the railway station to the Golden temple. You can also rent cars from the local service providers to go around the city.

Most spoken language in Amritsar

  • Punjabi
  • Hindi
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Places to visit in Amritsar

 
  • The Golden Temple: Almost everybody's first stop in Amritsar is the Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib, and for a good reason. The beautiful gurudwara, known as Sikhism's holiest site, was built by Guru Arjan in the 16th century. Interestingly, he invited a Sufi saint from Lahore to lay the foundation stone. Go for the early morning prayer service that starts at 4.30 am (the timings may differ in winter). It promises to be one of the most serene and soul-stirring experiences of your life, even if you are not a believer. The complex's heart is a beautiful water body, which prefaces the gilded structure that gives the Golden Temple its English name. Enter the gurudwara's central part and take part in the soothing prayers or merely take a parikrama around the pond, maybe a holy dip if you're inclined. Either way, you will feel a sense of peace and well-being (helped along by the piping hot kara prasad served at one end of the complex). Handy tip: carry an empty Tupperware box so you can get extra servings of the delicious ghee-laden goodness packed to take back with you.
  • Jallianwala Bagh: Conveniently, the Golden Temple is located close to Jallianwala Bagh, on a recently renovated stretch called Heritage Street, so you can easily walk across. When you enter through the narrow passage, you will understand in some measure, what the victims of the brutal 1919 massacre went through when General Dyer ordered his troops to fire mercilessly at the people gathered for a peaceful meeting on Baisakhi. 
  • Wagah Border: Another must-do experience is the Beating Retreat ceremony at the Atari-Wagah border. It's a good 25km away from the central city of Amritsar and but worth the drive to see Indian and Pakistani guards engage in dramatic marching to pop and patriotic numbers from either side. And despite the aggressive volume, it's a fun event, with people on both sides lingering at the gate, curious about their neighbours, just inches away.
  • The Partition Museum: Another must-see in Amritsar is The Partition Museum. Located in the beautiful 19th-century Town Hall building, the Partition Museum is intended as a living, evolving people's museum, built on the strength of their contributions, ranging from monetary assistance, clothes, letters, swords, jewellery, family heirloom, recorded audio-visual narratives, refugee camp registration cards, paintings and even research assistance. As you explore the space, you'll unearth fascinating details of how Partition came to be. These back-channel political discussions sealed the fate of cities like Lahore and districts like Gurdaspur. Listen to the heart-wrenching accounts of survivors, volunteers at refugee camps in places such as Ambala, Kurukshetra and Delhi and witness the beautiful homage to cross-border friendships that have survived. 

Places to eat in Amritsar

Kesar Da Dhaba
Kesar Da Dhaba

Originated as a small restaurant, now is famous and is one of the most sought-after eating places in Amritsar. Your trip is undoubtedly incomplete if you don’t taste their supremely delicious Dal Makhani and creamy Phirni.

 

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Bharawan da Dhaba
Bharawan da Dhaba

Even if it’s become a tourist cliché, it’s for a reason. The vegetarian offerings here are legendary, including the bharta, dal makhni and sarsonka saag.

 

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Sarhad Restaurant
Sarhad Restaurant

The quirky Sarhad restaurant, close to the Atari-Wagah border, is as famous for its hearty local food (think Amritsari and Lahori dishes) as it is for the artwork that showcases the Indo-Pak relationship uniquely and funnily. Its motto is Celebrating Peace Through Food and even its menu has the words peace and shanti on it.

 

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Kanha Sweets
Kanha Sweets

The favourite breakfast spot offers beautifully crisp, piping hot puri-aloo and chana, and refreshingly chilled lassi. You can also pick up some mithai from the shop.

 

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Surjit Food Plaza
Surjit Food Plaza

Popular with celebrities from all over the world, this iconic spot is known for its tandoori chicken and fried fish.

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Shopping places in Amritsar

High-end shopping/luxury shopping/shopping malls in Amritsar

  • Trilium Mall
  • Mall of Amritsar
  • Alpha One
  • Celebration Mall
  • Soul Space Wagah Plaza
  • Omaxe Novelty Mall

Street shopping in Amritsar

  • Raja Exclusive: Over at Raja Exclusive, spend some time browsing the collection of vibrant dupattas, kurta fabric and even phulkari saris and chatting with the friendly manager.
  • Heritage Plaza: And if you're looking for other stuff, walk around the Heritage Plaza, just ahead of the Golden Temple and shop for everything from kirpans to souvenir replicas of the temple. Stop now and then at a chaat, jalebi or lassi stall to get your fix. Also, don't miss the numerous shops and stalls selling varieties of aam papad, wadiyan, pickles and mithai.
  • New Mahajan Store: This store in Katra Jaimal Singh is an excellent bet for all your savoury snack cravings, while Gian Chand Lassi Wala, just around the corner, has perfect lassi and sweets.

There are a few things you cannot leave Amritsar without–traditional Punjabi juttis, phulkari dupattas, Amritsari papad and wadiyan. Explore bazaars such as Hall Gate and Katra Jaimal Singh, where every second shop sells these wares in a dizzying array of colours. Both Raunak Punjabi Jutti and Rangat Punjabi Jutti have gorgeous footwear, from classic Lahori styles to modern, floral-printed juttis that can be worn with the Western wear as well.

Where to stay in Amritsar

Hyatt-Amritsar

Hyaat This is a convenient luxury option that offers complimentary shuttles to and from the Golden Temple, even for the pre-dawn service. The hotel can also organise a visit to Jallianwala Bagh and the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama.

HotelCityPark

Hotel City Park With Golden temple at just 200metres, Jallian Wala Bagh at 100meters, Hotel City Park is the perfect address to stay close to all famous tourist spots. It is counted among the most beautiful and luxurious hotel in Amritsar and boast of superb service and best-in-class amenities.

Ramada

Ramada This hotel is walking distance from The Partition Museum and the Golden Temple. A highlight, especially given the hotel’s proximity to the sights, is the rooftop swimming pool.

Ranjit-Svaasa

Ranjit’s SVAASA A beautifully restored 18th-century haveli-turned-boutique-property, this one features Art Deco-style flooring, beautiful tapestries and antiques and many of its rooms and suites offer private terraces.

Taj-Swarna

Taj Swarna The Taj is a bit of a drive from the tourist sights, but the standard Taj luxuries make up for it. Try the Ambarsar Chaa (Tea), in which a variety of teas are presented, along with the famous street food items. And if you’re tired after a long day of sightseeing and shopping, head to the Jiva Spa for a rejuvenating massage.

Nightlife/party places in Amritsar

To explore the fun side of the city, you need to wait for the evening. That’s when various bars, and nightclubs in Amritsar open up for people to enjoy great food and music, here are few of the popular ones that you must checkout.

  • Underdoggs Sports Bar and Kitchen
  • Peddlers
  • Proof -The Bar
  • Irish Beach
  • The Peg at Taj Swarna Hotel
  • The Beer Café
  • Blue Icy Bar
  • Fuelstop at Alpha One Mall
  • The BrewMaster
  • Bottoms Up
  • RDX Lounge
  • Glass House Amritsar at  Hotel Orbion
  • Kava Grill & Lounge at Fairfield by Mariott

More reasons to visit and top things to do in Amritsar

  • If you're a cricket buff, head out 1.5 hours to Jalandhar. The city is one of the most famous cricket equipment manufacturing centres globally, with everything from bats to bales being made here.
  • About an hour away is the historic village of Kishan Kot in Gurdaspur district, one of the few villages ruled by Thakurs. It is home to a UNESCO award-winning Krishna Temple that housed stunning murals and paintings depicting Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna and other deities.

24 hours in Agra

If you are in Amritsar just for a day, then 'Heritage Street' walk is the best thing you can do to explore this 400-year-old city. Beginning from the old Town Hall Building that now houses the Partition Museum and goes towards Jallianwala Bagh till the Golden Temple, this one-kilometre stretch covers all the city's iconic points. Hence you can start your day by soaking into the Golden temple's sacredness, have yummy langar, hit the Heritage street and visit Jallianwala Bagh, situated at a short distance from the temple. Then move towards Partition museum, and if you have ample time, you can visit Wagah Border or else go on a shopping spree and pick up some souvenirs, phulkari dupattas, suits and beautiful juttis. In between don't forget to relish some yummy kulchas, Sarson da saag, sweet kheer and surely lassi.

Festivals in Amritsar

Hola Mohalla 

Hola Mahalla is considered a Sikh Olympic event lasting for three days, consisting of camping out and enjoying various fighting prowess and bravery, followed by kirtan, music, and poetry. For meals, which are an integral part of the Sikh institution (Gurdwara), visitors sit together in pangats (Queues) and eat vegetarian food of the langars (community meal stall). The festival is celebrated for three consecutive days. Members of the Sikh community display their physical strength by performing dare-devil acts like bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses, Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging etc. This is followed by music and poetry competition to lighten the charged up atmosphere. 

Guru Purab

Guru Purab is a significant festival of Punjab which is followed in two different times of the year. The first one is observed in November whereas the second one is organised in January. The first Guru Purab celebrated across the length and breadth of Punjab, is followed by Amritsar's people. In 

Baisakhi Mela/Baisakhi

Baisakhi is one of the most important festivals in Amritsar. It is celebrated in April with a lot of enthusiasm, mostly among the Sikh community. The Punjabi folk song and folk dance, Bhangra, is performed by the locals. During the celebrations, numerous stalls selling bangles, toys, local handicrafts, etc. are sold on the streets. Food stalls are also a significant crowd-puller. Baisakhi is considered a very auspicious festival in Amritsar because it was the sacred day when Guru Gobind Singhji established the Khalsa Panth. This is when harvested crops are gathered in, and the farmers rejoice to fulfil their year's hard work.

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