Amritsar is a city in Punjab that beautifully blends tradition, culture, food and history. It was founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Ram Das. The city today is divided into two parts: the Old City comprising of the Golden Temple along with several other ancient historical structures. The other side being all upmarket restaurants, modern residential homes and gleaming structures that showcase the city’s prosperity.
These are the things you can do in two days in the city:
The Golden Temple – Known to Sikhs as Harmandir Sahib, the temple is actually just a small part of this huge gurdwara complex. The Amrit Sarovar tank that surrounds the gleaming central shrine has a strong spiritual significance; they say taking a dip in the sacred waters has healing powers.
Guru-ka-langar – If you want a humbling demonstration of the Sikh principles of hospitality, kindness and charity, experience the langar at the end of the Golden Temple. An estimated 100,000 pilgrims come to eat every day after praying at the Golden Temple.
Dhabas you shouldn’t miss – Right outside the Golden temple in a narrow lane is Kesar da Dhaba. Don’t go by its simple decor, once you’ve tasted the food nothing else will matter. Bharawan Da Dhaba, pronounced ‘praa-waan’, is a down-to-earth Amritsar institution that has been serving lip-smacking Punjabi treats since 1912. Makhan Fish too is Amritsar’s legendary eatery serving fried fish and oven-baked fish tikkas, as well as a number of local preps featuring chicken and mutton.
Jallianwala Bagh – In an enclosed courtyard, this poignant park commemorates the 1500 Indians killed when a British officer ordered his soldiers to shoot unarmed protesters in 1919. You can spot the bullet holes in the wall and the well into which people jumped to avoid the bullets.
Amritsari Shopping – Bazaars such as Hall Gate and Katra Jaimal Singh are great for buying Punjabi Jutti and stunning phulkari dupattas. Shashtri Bazaar, located deep within Amritsar’s bustling old city, too is home to shops selling dupattas and fancy woollen shawls; whereas Kathian Bazaar is famous for stationery, tin pots and red-and-silver wedding bangles.
Wagah border – Beating Retreat, a ceremony happening every evening at the Atari–Wagah border shouldn’t be missed for anything. Located a good 25km away from the main city, leave well in advance so that you don’t miss out on it.