Amritsar is the most visited city in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab. The city is known as Holy City since it’s home to the Golden Temple religious complex (one of the most visited places in the world).
It’s the most important city in Punjab, and also the center of Sikhism. The Punjab region of India tells tales of various Sikh warriors, and one can feel their presence in every part of it.
Did you know India’s tallest victory tower is located in Punjab itself? That’s just the beginning. You need about three days in Amritsar (a minimum of two) to experience the fascinating Punjabi culture and history. Let’s dive into a full travel guide to visiting Amritsar, India—when to go, how to get there, and all of the best things to do and places to visit.
Best Places to Visit Around Amritsar
The World Famous Golden Temple
The Golden Temple of Amritsar is also known as Harmandir Sahib and Darbar Sahib. It holds religious importance as the eternal Guru of Sikhs is located inside the temple. It is called Golden temple in English because it is plated with gold. Initially, the temple was made of marble, it was only later that the entire temple was plated in real gold. The beautiful marble throughout the complex, along with a perfect blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles make the ambiance of the Golden temple very elegant and mesmerizing. This place is not only a prominent pilgrimage site of Sikhism but also a symbol of brotherhood and equality.
Dos & Don’ts Inside Golden Temple
- Cameras are allowed but you cannot take photographs everywhere. Photography is prohibited inside the sanctum sanatorium.
- You can wear any clothes but covering your head is compulsory is to cover your head. If you forget to bring a head covering, you need not worry as they are also provided right at the entrance.
- You can carry your mobile phone, wallet, etc. Though there is also a cloakroom if you wish to deposit your baggage.
- You must leave your footwear at the entrance to the temple.
Central Sikh Museum
The central Sikh museum is dedicated to Sikh gurus, saints, warriors, and other Sikh leaders. This place holds rare paintings, old coins, ancient manuscripts, old arms, cannons, and guns. The museum also exhibits portraits of Sikh martyrs, political personalities, and some handwritten holy books.
Location: Inside the Golden Temple.
Gurudwara Baba Atal Rai Ji
There are many Gurudwaras in Amritsar city to visit. These are only the must-visit places in the city. Apart from the Golden Temple, Gurudwara Atal Rai Ji is also a Sikh temple worthy of exploring. This nine-story memorial was built between 1778 and 1784 in memory of Baba Atal Rai. Baba Atal had given up his body in the ninth year, which inspired the construction of nine storied Gurudwara. It offers panoramic views of the whole Amritsar city from the top.
Location: At the backside of the Golden Temple.
Amritsar is rich in architecture and full of history, all laid out among the old, narrow city streets. One can explore the traditional heritage of old Amritsar on a slow-paced, interactive heritage walk. This is a beautiful place that gives you a chance to know Punjabi culture through sculptures. There is also a good market area to buy almost anything as a souvenir. With many eateries and local street food available in the area, you can truly immerse in Punjabi culture.
Recommended: Spiritual and Cultural walk of Amritsar
Jallianwala Bagh is one of the best places to visit in Amritsar. It’s a public garden that houses a memorial of national importance. On April 13, 1919, British troops massacred unarmed Indians who supported Indian self-government. Around 1,000 people lost their lives, and hundreds of people were injured. This is an important memorial to an important event in Indian history.
The Hindu Temple is also known as Durga Tirath and Sita Mandir is an ancient temple located in Amritsar. This Hindu shrine was built in the architectural style of the famous Sikh Golden Temple and thus complements a visit to the more famous temple.
Mata Lal Ji Temple Caves
This Hindu Temple holds a great attraction in the form of a cave designated as Gufa Vaishno Devi Ji and dedicated to Goddess Vaishno Devi. Thousands of people visit it daily irrespective of religion, color, and creed. It is open from 5am to 11pm.
The Gobindgarh Fort is a unique live museum located in the center of the city Amritsar. It was earlier occupied by the Indian army, but since February 2017 it has been open to the public. This fort is dedicated to the life of Sikh warriors and was named after the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
Attractions in Gobindgarh Fort:
- A 7D show titled “Sher-e-Punjab” is not to be missed and takes place within the fort.
- The Ancient Warfare Museum has several replicas of instruments and attires of warfare.
- Discover the spirit of Punjabi culture with several live performances of Bhangra, Gidda, etc, which keep the fort stage alive all day long.
- Amritsari cuisines is on display in the various eateries, providing Punjabi food as well as other tasty options.
- Haat Bazaar provides antique handmade products, including clothes and other accessories.
- The Coin Museum features old and rare coins, including a replica of Kohinoor diamond, which was worn by the Maharaja and is displayed in the coin museum.
- Enjoy the Whispering Walls laser light show, which uses art projection mapping technologies and laser lights each evening after sunset. It’s shown in two languages, Punjabi and English.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum
This museum is dedicated to Sikh Empire founder Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was he who played a decisive role in Indian history and called a lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab). The museum displays the Sikh royal heritage through paintings, armors, and other historical objects.
The museum is a central repository of stories, documents, and materials related to post-partition riots following the division of British India into two independent countries: India and Pakistan. This is the first-ever museum that focuses on the stories, pain, and trauma of those millions of people who suffered the agony of partition in 1947.
Best Things to Do in Amritsar
Experience the Community Kitchen Food
Try the free meal, known as Langar in Sikhism, from the community kitchen in Gurudwara (Sikh temple). This meal is served in Gurudwaras every day without distinction of caste, religion, gender, economic status, or ethnicity. The meals provided in langar are vegetarian, consists of roti (bread), rice, daal (lentils), vegetable dish, and kheer (dessert).
Fact: The Golden Temple langar feeds 1,00,000 people every day for free.
Accept the Karah Parshad of Gurudwaras
Karah parshad is sweet, flour-based vegetarian food offered to all Gurudwara visitors as a blessing. This is regarded as a blessed food and should not be refused.
Immerse in Flavorful Local Foods
If you get a chance to visit Amritsar then your visit is not complete without tasting the best food in the city. A must-try dish is Amritsari kulcha, a dish made of maida bread filled with a spiced mixture of potatoes, paneer, and special masalas; it’s baked in a tandoor and served with butter or ghee.
Go Shopping at Hall Bazaar
Hall bazaar is the busiest market in Amritsar. If you’re interested in some sort of Punjabi culture and traditional attire then you must visit this market. For famous Punjabi Fulkari and Punjabi suits, visit Katra Jaimal Singh market in Hall Bazaar.
Things to Buy: Spices, Punjabi suits (men & women), Punjabi jutti (footwear)
Watch a Beating Retreat Ceremony at Wagah Border
The Wagah border is a post between India and Pakistan, which is famous for its beating retreat ceremony every evening. The border is located 20 km from Amritsar and the ceremony starts before sunset and lasts for 45 minutes.
Timings: 4:15 pm in winters, 4:45 pm in summers.
Things to Know Before You Go:
- Reach the border one hour before the ceremony as there are always huge crowds.
- Seats are jam-packed on public holidays and weekends.
- There is no entry fee.
- It is easily accessible by road by either bus or car, or on a tour.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Amritsar is from November to March (winter season). This is the most pleasant time to explore the city in terms of weather. However, sometimes during the peak winter month of January, the temperatures drop to almost 0 ºC (32 ºF), which is a bit colder than some might anticipate.
Even so, summers in India are too hot to enjoy sightseeing, so don’t plan your visit in the scorching heat of summer (June), which is followed by a long monsoon season (July to October).
How to Get There
An international airport is located 11 km from the city center. It’s well connected to other cities in India, and also international cities. There are daily flights to and from Dubai, London, Toronto, and Tashkent.
The Amritsar railway station is well connected to all the major cities in India. One can reach it by train from New Delhi to Amritsar in approximately six hours—this is the best option for most visitors traveling to Amritsar.
Many bus services connect Amritsar and various other cities in India, which you will need to use if you cannot connect through New Delhi on the train.
Where to stay
Booking.com is the best option for finding great hotels in Amritsar for your stay.
The best areas to stay near—these are the best locations for convenience to the top sites and transportation—include the Golden Temple area, the Mall of Amritsar, Railway Junction, and the Amritsar Bus Stand.
Amritsar is a city full of unique flavors—this place never disappoints any visitor. From history lovers and devotees to foodies, culture buffs, and shopaholics, Amritsar is a place welcoming for everyone.
And if one gets a chance to visit India during “festival of lights” known as Diwali, Amritsar is the best place to experience the festival fervor since the Golden Temple is a surreal place to visit on Diwali eve.
By Supriya Bhardwaj
Traxplorers are family travelers & explorers who travel with their kid and love to explore new places, cultures, historical sites. They are adventure seekers and always keen to explore off the beaten paths. They are the adventure planners in India and their blog offers a wide variety of adventure travel stories straight from their first-hand experiences. Do follow their travels at Instagram and Facebook.