There are some places around the world which you know are going to be special even before you visit them! The prosperous city of Amritsar or Ambarsar as it locally known is one such city that you know is going to be a memorable travel experience. Home to the glorious Golden Temple and the site of the horrific massacre that put Amritsar in almost all our history books, it is one city that we have always longed to visit since our childhood. The beauty of this city lies in its simplistic charm and the ever-hospitable local people who make this spiritual and colourful city worth-visiting! Be welcomed by the chants of ‘Ik Onkar’ at the various Gurudwaras that dot the streets of Amritsar and fall in love with the lush green farms; shed a tear at Jallianwala Bagh and fill your chest with pride at Wagah Border. This city lets you experience emotions that are so different from one another yet so intimate to your existence that they redefine your travel experience altogether…
Amritsar is well-connected by rail, road and air which is why it has become one of the most visited places in North India and a popular weekend destination for many. The city of Amritsar has become a much sought-after spiritual getaway where people look forward to escaping from the daily monotony of their routine lives. And Amritsar does not disappoint! With an amazing mix of tourist attractions, devotional sites, local experiences as well as delectable cuisine offerings, Amritsar makes a place in your heart instantly! Even a weekend then feels very short to explore this wonderful city that contributes a great length in making Punjab known as ‘India’s Bread Basket’.
So, if you are planning to visit this city over the weekend, take a note of the popular places to visit in Amritsar that will ensure that you have a well-rounded and wholesome travel experience:
1.) Golden Temple
Sri Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as Darbar Sahib and informally referred to as the Golden Temple is one of the famous Gurudwaras and the most revered spiritual site in Sikhism. Built in the centre of a holy tank, Amrit Sarovar, the Golden Temple has four entrances in four directions, representing the openness of the Sikhs to all people and religions. The temple has been constructed with marble and embellished with real gold, thereby earning the title of ‘Golden Temple’. Structurally, the temple has been constructed a level below the ground as it signifies that one must be humble and bow down in order to reach God. The main hall of the Golden Temple houses the sacred scripture of Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib which is placed on a raised platform under a canopy studded with precious jewels.
The Golden Temple forms the essence of an Amritsar tour package and the very reason why most people choose to visit Amritsar. For an even more soulful experience, help out at the Golden Temple Langar and try the delicious ‘Karah Prasad’! A visit during the night with the Golden Temple and its surroundings lit up in twinkling lights will make you realise why this temple is one of the most legendary places to visit in Amritsar.
2.) Akal Takht
A trip to Golden Temple is not complete without visiting the ‘Akal Takht’! One of the five seats of power in the Sikh religion, the Akal Takht is located in the Harmandir Sahib Complex, right opposite the Golden Temple. Translated it means, ‘Throne of the Timeless One’ and the seat of power or ‘Takht’ represents the highest body of authority that deals with matters relating to spirituality, justice and otherworldly concerns of the Sikh community. The Jathedar of the Akal Takht is the person who is in charge of the seat of power and the highest spokesperson for the Khalsa (Sikh community as a whole). The Akal Takht was originally known as ‘Akal Bunga’ when it was founded in the year 1606 by Guru Hargobind along with Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas. Today, the 5-storied structure with marble inlay work and a splendid golden dome looks like a smaller replica of the Golden Temple and is considered to be one of the holiest places to visit in Amritsar!
*Also try and visit the Central Sikh Museum located in the premises of the Golden Temple. The museum showcases paintings of Sikh Gurus, Sikh warriors and other prominent religious leaders who have contributed to the growth and development of the Sikh religion. The museum also features a remarkable collection of coins, weapons and ancient manuscripts.
3.) Jallianwala Bagh
One of the most riveting monuments of not just Amritsar but the entire nation! Who can ever forget the horrifying incident that put Jallianwala Bagh on the map of India’s freedom struggle and made it one of the most revered memorial sites in Indian history? Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden and a monument of national and historic importance that was built to commemorate the massacre of hundreds of innocent people at the hands of the British. This massacre took place during a peaceful public rally that was held at Jallianwala Bagh on the occasion of Baisakhi on April 13, 1919. The premises still serves as a reminder of this gruesome deed with markings that identify the various spots and exact locations where the firing and the subsequent carnage took place. Shed a tear and pay a heartfelt tribute to the innocent lives as you witness the bullet marks on the walls, Martyrs’ Well and the narrow (and only) entrance lane of the premises that was blocked by the British so that nobody could escape! A place to remember and reflect, a visit to Jallianwala Bagh is a must-do when you plan your Amritsar tour package.
4.) Wagah Border
Travel about 30 km on the Grand Trunk Road from Golden Temple to Wagah Border, where you are guaranteed to feel a surge of pride and emotions! The most incredible experience awaits at Wagah Border where you witness the Wagah border ceremony or lowering of flags at the international borders between India and Pakistan. In this ceremony, Indian as well as Pakistani soldiers march towards the border gates to lower down their respective flags every day. Feel goosebumps as you watch the Indian soldiers proudly perform their customary salute and high-spirited kicks to rival those of the Pakistani soldiers. The atmosphere is such that your chest will swell with pride as you shout ‘Jai Hind’ and immerse yourself in passionate patriotic fervour! Wouldn’t you like to be part of this memorable event that celebrates the true spirit of being a proud Indian? A Wagah border tour package will let you experience just that! For an even more unforgettable experience, you can be a part of the Independence Day celebration at Wagah Border on 15th August.
*The Wagah Border parade timings for the Wagah border ceremony are as follows – In winter, the Wagah border parade timings start from 4.15 PM and in summer, the Wagah border parade timings are from 5.15 PM. The lowering of flags lasts for about 45 minutes to 1 hour and it is important to arrive at least an hour in advance to secure a place for the Wagah border ceremony. The border gate remains open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM every day and the Wagah border ceremony takes place at sundown when both nations lower their flags and close their respective border gates.
5.) Gobindgarh Fort
A historic fort located at the heart of Amritsar and a definite must-visit as part of your Amritsar tour package! Gobindgarh Fort is a remarkable structure that was built by Gujjar Singh Bhangi in the 18th century. Not long after, in the 19th century, the reigns of the fort were taken over by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the fort was enhanced with several unique fortifications, remarkable architectural feats and solid military defence systems. The main purpose of the fort was to protect Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) and the city of Amritsar against any foreign invaders. Today, Gobindgarh Fort has been developed as a live museum that exhibits Punjab’s rich history, Sikh martial plans during those times and the treasury of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
There are several attractions such as Sher-e-Punjab, Toshakhana (coin museum), The Bungalow (ancient warfare museum), Spirit of Punjab (live entertainment stage), Ambarsari Zaika (food stalls and eateries), Haat Bazaar (local market) and Whispering Walls (state-of-the-art laser lights and sound show). For an immersive experience of Punjab, be sure to visit Gobindgarh Fort and do not miss out on Whispering Walls – counted as one of the best things to do in Amritsar!
6.) Durgiana Temple
Where myth, history and religion become one! Shri Durgiana Tirth in Amritsar welcomes one and all with this marvellous tagline that summarizes the beauty and simplicity of this prominent Hindu pilgrimage site, in one simple statement. Quite similar in structure and design to the Golden Temple, The Durgiana Temple is an important religious landmark for the Hindus in North India. The temple is also known as Laxmi Narayan Mandir, Durga Tirath and Sitla Mandir where Goddess Durga is the main deity worshipped along with Goddess Laxmi and Lord Vishnu. Just like the Golden Temple, the structure is mainly built using marble and the domes are gilded with gold! The large doors of the temple are exquisitely designed in silver which is why the temple is also known as the Silver Temple sometimes. Being an extremely popular temple of Amritsar city, it is often included as one of the must-visit attractions of any Amritsar tour package. Pay your respects and immerse yourself in holy devotion as you realise why Durgiana Temple is one of the best places to visit in Amritsar.
7.) Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum
A museum named after the ‘Lion of Punjab’ has to be a part of your Amritsar sightseeing packages! Maharaja Ranjit Singh is credited with establishing, maintaining and spreading his vast Sikh Empire from the state of Punjab to Khyber Pass and China to the east and Sutlej & Sind to the west. He acquired the city of Amritsar in 1802, giving it the title of spiritual capital of Punjab and also established his summer residence palace in this city. The same palace has now been converted into a museum depicting the life and heroics of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and is also famous for housing rare and priceless collections of weapons, paintings, armour, manuscripts and coins. Thousands of visitors throng the famous museum to have a look at the valuable antiques and art exhibits from the 18th & 19th century. No doubt, the museum is considered to be of great historic importance and is known as the cultural pride of Punjab! Make this cultural icon a must-visit part of your Amritsar tour package and discover the legend of the Lion of Punjab!
8.) Partition Museum
A new addition to the remarkable attractions in the historical city of Amritsar, the Partition Museum is a milestone museum featuring the remnants of the great Partition that divided India and Pakistan in 1947. The museum aims to depict the events of the Partition as experienced by the people of those times. It has been established as a ‘People’s Museum’ and the unique feature about this museum is that many of the exhibits, objects and artefacts on display have been generously donated by the survivor families of the Partition. The museum charts the events that led up to the Partition, the time before independence, the freedom struggle of India, the Partition itself and the after-effects of this strategic divide. It is a remarkable collection of stories, interviews, documents, photographs and paintings that trace the agony and experience of Partition of 1947! This museum is definitely a must-visit experience and one of the most iconic things to do in Amritsar.
9.) Shastri Market
Shopping for local products and souvenirs in the old yet prominent markets of the city is one of the most fun things to do in Amritsar! Shastri Market is one such popular market area located near the Golden Temple near Guru Bazaar Road. The items available here range from traditional jutis, textiles, garments to beautiful accessories and souvenirs that are among the choicest favourites of tourists and locals alike. This market is often the most preferred choice for buyers since it is a wholesale market and the prices tend to be lower than most of the retail stores and outlets. If you want to explore more such local markets, you can also hop to the nearby Guru Bazaar where you can find an extensive and exquisite range of jewellery items. Head to the Katra Jaimal Singh Bazaar if you wish to buy colourful Phulkari patterned garments and shop till you drop at one of the oldest marketplaces in Amritsar when you shop at Hall Bazaar – famous for a variety of items such as clothing, footwear, souvenirs, handicrafts and food items. The markets of Amritsar are thus one of the best places to visit in Amritsar!
10.) Amritsar Farm Stay
This is one experience that you must definitely have on your Amritsar weekend trip! When you visit such a beautiful city for 2-3 days, it is but natural that you want to explore the city, its lifestyle and its culture to the fullest! A unique farmstay at one of the many splendid farm resorts of Amritsar is the best way to experience the rural life of not just Amritsar but the whole state of Punjab. A farm stay gives you an insight into the daily life of the locals and introduces you to the various activities that are carried out by the locals for sustenance. You get the wonderful opportunity to enjoy a walking tour of the extensive crop farms, dairy farms and also get a chance to experience the traditional bullock cart ride and tractor ride that form an essential and integral part of any farmer’s life. The amazing hospitality of the farm stay is accompanied by delicious authentic cuisine that gives you a real taste of Punjab! Where else would you experience such beautiful nature, the daily life of the farmers and the amazing delicacies of Punjab? It is truly said that to understand a place, one must interact with its locals and this farm stay lets you experience just that! So, make this unique farm stay a part of your Amritsar tour package and live the local life…
Apart from these beautiful places, there are a few more Amritsar tourist places that you can try to accommodate in your weekend plan. Gurudwara Baba Atal, Dukh Bhanjani Beri, Manji Sahib, Mata Lal Devi Mandir, Tarn Taran and Harike Wetland are some of the places you can consider visiting as part of your Amritsar tour package. However, the most important thing to remember is to not tire yourself by running around to explore a lot of places within a span of 2-3 days. The best way to explore any city is to make the most of your time and in the end, have fun while doing it!
Amritsar is one such place where you feel that time stands still as you get wonderfully lost in the beauty and timeless charm of the city! Experience divinity, patriotism, sacrifice, respect and pleasure all in one place when you explore the prosperous city of Amritsar.
Experience the Soul of Punjab… Experience Amritsar!