10 Things Not To Be Missed While You are Visiting Amritsar, Punjab


The city of Amritsar was founded by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru. The former name of the city was Ramdaspur. Colloquially, people also call it Ambarsar and its residents as Ambarsariya. (ref. the famous song from the film Fukrey “Ambarsariya Mundayae”)

I always intended to visit this holy and historical city of Punjab. Finally, I made it, a couple of weeks ago. While Amritsar looks like any other developed cities of India at a  glance, the more you delve into its rich tradition, history, culture and cuisine, the more you’ll understand the charm of the city.

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Why the name Amritsar

The pivotal attraction of the city is Sri Harmandir Sahib or The Golden Temple. It is situated amidst a sacred pool. Amritsar (Amrita Saras) literally means “a pool of nectar” which refers to the Golden Temple Lake.

Major Attractions of Amritsar

♥♥ The stunning Golden Temple, undoubtedly, is the numero uno attraction of Amritsar.

The city of Amritsar holds great value to the Sikhs. The Harmandir or Darbar Sahib or The Golden Temple is visited by lakhs of devotees every day from all over the world. Visiting the temple in the wee hours of the morning, when the chantings from the Guru Granth Sahib add more to the peace and sanctitude of the ambience, is a memorable experience. I visited it twice; once in broad daylight, then when it was almost dark, that is, before dawn. The divine beauty of the temple, the clean environment, the delicious “prasad”, the “langar seva” (providing free meals to anyone and everyone) — I will cherish the memories forever. The main temple dome was gilded with pure gold weighing 750 kg by Maharaja Ranjit Singh! The four entrances on the four sides denote that it is open to devotees from all religion, caste or creed.

Tip: Try to visit once in the daytime and once at night. Covering your head while entering the temple premises is mandatory.

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Fishes in the Pool of Nectar

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Security Personnel @Golden Temple

♥♥ Jallianwala Bagh

The history of our independence will never forget those innocent, unarmed people who lost their lives in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. On 13th April 1919, British-Indian Army, under the command of General Reginald Dyer, opened fire to a crowd who had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh ground. Approximately 1,650 rounds were fired which wounded more than 1,100 people and, 379 were found dead. That mass murder shocked the entire nation, Rabindranath Tagore refused his knighthood as a protest. The bullet marks on the walls still hold the testimony to the tragedy. There is also a museum adjoining the garden which houses authentic documents of the incident collected from various sources.

Tip: Visit it simultaneously with the Golden temple as it’s a stone’s throw from there.

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Bullet Marks on the Wall

♥♥ Wagah Border Beating Retreat Ceremony

Wagah is actually a small village on the other side, Pakistan. From the Indian side, technically, it should be Attari border. The thrill and enthusiasm are palpable here long before the ceremony starts. As it was winter time, it started at 4.15 pm. About twenty thousand spectators on the Indian side cheered the marching soldiers. A proud moment for everyone who witnesses the ceremony.

Tip: It’s better to reach at least one hour before the ceremony starts as entry is limited. Security checking is rigid so carry your credentials. Mobile phones do not work here as perhaps BSF uses jammer. You can click pictures though.

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♥♥ Partition Museum

The Partition museum located in the town hall houses an array of historical documents, books, notes, clippings and stories by eye-witnesses of the partition and post-partition times. It’s a repository holding the pain and sufferings of the partition time and riots. The two worst affected states on India during the partition was Bengal and Punjab. Both the states’ history has been well documented here. It’s a must watch if you are interested in history. Even if you are not, it would be a mistake to miss it.

Tip: Once you are in, you would be bound to spend a couple of hours here. So reserve at least 2/3 hours for it.

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♥♥ Explore Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum

As the name suggests, this museum throws insightful light on the life and works of the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Artefacts, paintings, coins, swords used by the monarch are on display on the first floor. The second floor showcases an entire gallery of three-dimensional paintings with light and sound. The surroundings are green, calm and beautiful.

Tip: It is located in Ram Bagh. Timings: 10 am- 5 pm

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In the Garden of the Museum

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3D Paintings

♥♥ Punjab State War Heroes’ Memorial and Museum

This museum is a repository of the military history of Punjab which stretches from the time of Guru Hargobind Singh Ji. The museum has eight galleries each depicting the heroism and sacrifices of the Sikhs in different wars. A 45-meter-high sword at the entrance symbolizes the valour, strength and determination of the Sikhs. The memorial-cum-museum compound has a cafe and an auditorium with a beautiful garden encompassing the ground.

Tip: DON’T miss the 7D film show at the auditorium.

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♥♥ Gobindgarh Fort 

Gobindgarh Fort stands on an expansive area of 43 acres! Maharaja Ranjit Singh strengthened the fort and, it is said, the famous Koh-i-Noor was housed here. The ruins of the fort speak of its magnificence even today. After restoration, it is now a major attraction of Amritsar with a coin and a paagdi museum, a 7D auditorium which runs an excellent show on the life of the Maharaja, a restaurant where you can taste authentic “Ambarsari zaika”, several shops showcasing traditional Punjabi handicrafts and live cultural performance. We were fascinated by the bhangra dance and the Nihang military performances.

Tip: It’s open from 10 am-10 pm. Spend 3/4 hours or more here and enjoy.

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I’m ready to throw the spear!! 😀 

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My sister (front) Our driver Sukhraj Singh (back)

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Me @Gurdwara

♥♥ Sadda Pind

This is one new addition to the attractions of Amritsar. Our driver-cum-guide for 4 days, Sukhraj Singh told us to spend a whole afternoon here. We abided by him and were rewarded accordingly. The entry fee to Sadda Pind initially seemed a bit on the higher side (INR 750/per person), but as we explored the place and finally, had a sumptuous lunch in the restaurant there whose price in included in the ticket, it looked worth enough to pay.

Sadda Pind, literally means Our Village, gives you the taste of a traditional Punjabi village with all its characteristics and quirks. You can taste different types of chats, Makki di roti and sarson da saag made by locals just in front of you, enjoy and participate in cultural programs, meet phulkari artists or can ride a camel/horse cart. The alleys of the Pind provides the real feel of a village. There are many other things to experience and know about. The place is very well-maintained. It’s fun as well as an educational tour for all.

Tip: Spend half the day here to immerse in Punjabi culture. Timing: 11.00 am -10.30 pm.

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♥♥ Experience Authentic Cuisines of Amritsar

The taste buds of Bengalis and Punjabis are quite similar. So, as a Bengali, I really savoured Amritsari Kulcha, Fish Amritsari and different chicken dishes. I loved the lassi and Makki di roti with Sarson da saag! If you are a foodie, Amritsar will steal your heart through the path of your stomach!

Tip: Go for decent roadside dhabas instead of luxurious restaurants. We had the same food at Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s “The Yellow Chilli” and at a dhaba named “Rangeela Punjab.” Taste of food was the same (if not better in the Dhaba), but the billing amount differed a lot.

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♥♥ Go For Shopping at Hall Bazaar 

It would be a crime not to indulge in shopping while in Amritsar. several phulkari items with vivacious colours, juttis, pickles, ornaments, parandas– there’s a whole lot of things!
Hall Bazaar is the best place to shop, though, you will find shops almost everywhere.

Tip: A little bargaining can save a lot.

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I loved Amritsar not only for its so-called attractions but also for its people. They are friendly, ready-to-help the tourists and well-mannered.

We stayed at Radisson Blue, Amritsar. Courteous staff and mouth-watering food were added advantages along with the regular amenities of star hotels. Moreover, it takes 10 minutes to reach there from the airport. There are numerous hotels in Amritsar and OYO Rooms are also available. It’s better to make a prior booking to save time and energy wherever you want to stay.

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Statue of the Great Monarch– Maharaja Ranjit Singh

43 responses to “10 Things Not To Be Missed While You are Visiting Amritsar, Punjab

  1. Great post and place i really like to visit Punjab and Amritsar desi foods served by punjab ROTI , Saag specially hot from Chulllah and more i love

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  2. Hi Mani, I couldn’t have put it even a fraction of the beautiful description that you captured. In fact I was there in the Oct and had explored all these that you have shared and just couldn’t stop agreeing in every bit. It is indeed a magical journey exploring the history, the culture, the tradition and the cuisine that takes the cake away for the foodies like us.

    Yes it is the dhabas and small joints that serve the best of the cuisines and so much to choose for and literally the three course meal becomes a five course and we keep looking for excuses to grab a bite. The surrounding of the Golden Temple is real transformation and story that needs to be told. The walkways and the neatness sets the place apart…Nothing can beat the aroma that transcend once you step into the vicinity of the Golden Temple, and once you are inside it is truly divine…no words can describe the surreal feeling and it is exactly the same every time you enter. It is must to visit in the day time especially in the morning hour and in the evening hour, both the time we get totally different experience. There is nectar in the water and there is purity in air and one can feel and smell it.

    At the same one cannot forget the agony and struggle people had gone through during the partition time and it is there to be seen and we need to bow our head and pray for the departed souls who fought the bitter battle and how this mass migration remains the defining moment in the annals of world history…the partition museum is rich collection of those artifacts and memories that gives us the power to reinforce on our nationalism.

    Thanks once again Mani for literally taking me back to those lovely experience. It was ditto!!!
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • It feels really nice when one’s experience and feelings about a place resonate with another recent visitor. Truly, we will never be able to forget the wounds of partition and the massacre it created during that time.

      The cleanliness of the temple is spectacular. I especially liked that.
      Thanks for such a cheerful comment, Nihar. I’m happy to make your memories alive… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed Mani, there is two sides to this wonderful place of Amritsar…the divinity and the delight of food but behind this brighter side is the ugly side of the partition and the massive massacre that changed the way two countries and two religion live thereafter…
        I agree the cleanliness is something that was of top notch and one can feel the difference…cleanliness is next to godliness, so true.

        Thanks once again for a such lovely narration and with such finer details, one can recreate one’s own experience and I did with your wonderful piece of writing.
        Have a great weekend Mani.
        😀

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  3. Precise and to the point,that’s one quality that your writing always possessed within itself. The picture of two sisters looking at the works of the phulkari artists are adorable. Bargaining is essential in places outside kolkata and in kolkata. Your photography skills are again commendable. Next tour pakka punjab korbo eibar. Bhalo theko didi.

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  4. Awesome read, Darun laglo pore, the info about the Golden temple and the village is interesting and attractive,..Lots of these were beyong my knowledge. Captures are as usual very nice, Kathberali dutoke bhalo capture korechho.
    Enjoyed reading throughout.

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  5. Golden temple and its surroundings was developed by Badal’s. Did not win them election but the temple looks beautiful. When I visited, I was asked by an elderly Sikh gentleman to drink Amrit from the tank. I drank without protest, but it was not appetising given people were bathing in the same tank. But Golden Temple is beautiful. Wagah border I found to be overly dramatised. Jalianwlabagh gave goose bumps. Amritsar market, a bargainer’s paradise, Punjabi traders understood how much a Bengali woman can bargain..

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    • Really? I don’t think it’s healthy to drink the water from the pool 😦 Anyway, yes, Wagah border is a bit overhyped but I loved the ambience created, even if it was scripted to some extent. Hehe…Bengalis are notable for their bargaining capacity 😛

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  6. Oh what a beautiful journey in pictures and loved your narration Mani, You look so beautiful too, even the one when throwing a spear LOL
    Fabulous… Many thanks Mani for sharing the delights of your trip with us.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This looks like quite the trip to Amritsar in Punjab. So much ground covered. The Golden Temple looks stunning indeed, and wow, you visited it during the daytime and nighttime. Looks equally lovely both times. Amazing, a 7D film show at the Punjab State War Heroes’ Memorial and Museum. Never even heard of 7D 😀 Gobindgarh Fort sounds massive and don’t think I could walk around it all in a day. Lovely photos and thank you for taking us along, Mani 🙂

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  8. Lots of very interesting information about Amritsar!
    To tell you the truth, before reading your interesting post, I knew almost nothing about this amazing town (I just heard the name…), that’s why i’m particularly grateful to you for sharing…
    Sometimes I think in the West (I come from Italy) people are too much concentrated in their own world and not completely aware how many beautiful places there are all around 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for such a sweet comment 🙂 I’m glad that you get to know about Amritsar from the post. Actually, the whole world is a wonderful place and we have so many things to know about, so much to see. Sometimes, I do really wish to be a bird. 😀

      My sister will be visiting some parts of your beautiful country in August, this year. I’m looking forward to seeing her pictures

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  9. I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Amritsar so much Mani. There is no doubt that The Golden Temple is the main attraction, and has become an International Tourist spot now. There was a time when it was not crowded at all and we could straight away go into the sacrosanct sanctum. Now there are long lines and a lot of patience is required for paying obeisance. What you call “the lake” or “the pool” is actually called a holy sarover by Sikhs and it is believed that it could cure all kinds of diseases, once upon a time.
    Nice to hear that you liked the local cuisine and culture. There is indeed a lot to experience if you are a visitor to the state.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really liked the trip. Yes, it’s called a sarovar. “Pool of Nectar” is actually written on the plaques inside the temple. Perhaps they’ve written ‘sarovar’ in Gurmukhi which I can’t read.
      In spite of the crowd, it’s very clean. We waited for only 10 minutes on the first day. However, it was a long queue when we visited the second time.

      Like

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