The historic city has been witness to 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
By Air: Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport is the nearest airport to Amritsar, about 11km (15-20minutes drive) from the city center. IndiGo now operates 49 weekly non-stop flights between Amritsar and Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Srinagar, Guwahati & Dubai along with 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: Auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are the two main modes of transportation in the city. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Popular with celebrities from all over the world, this iconic spot is known for its tandoori chicken and fried fish.
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 incredibly beautiful footwear, from classic Lahori styles to modern, floral-printed juttis that can be worn with the Western wear as well.
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 excellent lassi and sweets.
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.
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 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’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 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.
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 own 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, the back-channel political discussions that 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 like Ambala, Kurukshetra and Delhi and witness the beautiful homage to cross-border friendships that have survived.
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 iconic points of the city. Hence you can start your day by soaking into the sacredness of the Golden temple, 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
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 in the world, with everything from bats to bales being made here. Also about an hour away is the historic village of Kishan Kot in Gurdaspur district, one of the few villages that was 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.