Amritsar is the cultural capital of India’s north-western state, Punjab. Located near the border of India and Pakistan, Amritsar is a city that played an extremely important role in Indian history, especially towards the end of the British rule in India. Amritsar gets its name from the lake that surrounds the Harmandir Sahib popularly known as Golden Temple. The lake is called Amrit Sarovar, which stands for a holy pool of nectar, hence the city got named Amritsar. From food, music, and art to history, religion, and traditions, there is a lot to experience in Amritsar and here is just how you can spend a day in Amritsar.
1. Visit the Golden Temple
Starr your day with a visit to the Golden Temple. Make sure you carry a napkin or a scarf to cover your head before you enter the temple. Harmandir Sahib is a popular pilgrimage site so be prepared to wait in the queue for at least an hour. After you pay your respects, make sure you visit the langar area where community meals are offered to anyone who visits the temple. The langar is one of the largest in the country and by some estimates serves anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 people every day. If you’re up for it, the temple complex also has a dormitory area where you can stay for free in return for service at the temple.
2. Jallianwala Bagh
The Jallianwala Bagh is around one km from the Golden Temple. It is known for the infamous massacre of April 1919. There is a memorial inside the garden, next to the Martyr’s Well in which people jumped to save themselves from the bullets. Several of the walls continue to have the bullet marks on them, a grim reminder of the gory massacre.
3. Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum
Just a minute away from the Jallianwala Bagh is the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Palace which was converted into a museum the year Amritsar celebrated 400 years of existence. The palace was the king’s erstwhile summer home and now has arms, swords and armours, age-old currencies, artifacts, paintings and belongings of the king. After you visit the Museum, you’ll have to go back to Jallianwala Bagh in order to proceed towards Wagah Border.
4. Wagah Border
Right outside the Jallianwala Bagh, bus and car services offer rides all the way to the Wagah Border. While there are options for booking a ride online, it’s better to book one on the spot as you can negotiate for either the car or bus fare. The famous Wagah Border parade starts at 5 pm and lasts for an hour but if you want to find a seat and watch the parade live, it is advisable to reach by 2 pm. Keep in mind that you’re allowed to carry just basic essentials like sunglasses, a water bottle and your wallet to the border area. If you want to interact with the soldiers and click pictures near the gates, wait till the area is mostly vacated.
5. Shop for Phulkari cloth and Amritsari jutti
On your way back to the Golden Temple, stop by Kapra Bazar to purchase hand-woven phulkari cloth, salwar-kameez, dupattas and chunnis. The Raunak Store at Pink Plaza in the locality is a world-famous shoe store known to manufacture and sell traditional leather footwear known as jutti.
6. Enjoy Punjabi Food
Amritsar is home to a variety of dishes and delicacies that you must try when there. The first on your list should definitely be the Guru Ka Langar at the Golden Temple. One of the other best options around Golden Temple is Bharawan Da Dhaba which offers only vegetarian food given its location. However, if you’re craving for some chicken or mutton, you can head to Pal da Dhaba, Adarsh Meat Shop, Beera Chicken Corner or Mame da Dhaba. When it comes to dessert, do try Amritsari lassi, a thick sweet cream-shake, jalebi, pinni and gajar ka halwa that will fill your tummy to the brim!