Amritsar Travel Guide
Amritsar is a city in the northwestern part of India and is the
administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab,
India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be
over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering just over
3,695,077. Amritsar is 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Lahore, Pakistan
and therefore, very close to India's western border with Pakistan.
Another origin of Amritsar's name is from Amrit-Sagar, "The Ocean of the
Nectar of Immortality".
Amritsar is home to Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple,
the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. This important
Sikh shrine attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal in Agra and is the
number one destination for non-resident-Indians (NRI) in the whole of
India.There is Baba Jivan Singh temple dedicated to the brave sikh. The
9th Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur was killed by the Mughals in Delhi where there
is Guru Sish Ganj Gurudwara. Baba Jivan singh ji walked from Anandpur to
Delhi and managed to capture the head of Guru Teg Bahadur and
presented that to Guru Gobind Singh.
Amritsar is also known for the incidents of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in
1919 under British Rule and Operation Bluestar in 1984 under the late
Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
The main commercial activities include tourism, carpets and fabrics,
farm produce, handicrafts, service trades and light engineering. The
city is popular and known for its food and culture. Amritsar is also
home to Central Khalsa Orphanage, which was once a home for Shaheed
Udham Singh, a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement
what to buy
* Guru Nanak knick-knacks. His face graces all kinds of goodies.
* CDs of temple recordings, chants, and Punjabi music in the shops along the front of the temple.
* Punjabi Juttis (shoes) from the tiny shops near the Hall Bazaar flyover.
* Warian (spicy pulses ground with spices) from Hall Bazaar
* Sikh symbols and relegious paraphenelia like Karas (sikh relegious bangle), swords, daggers etc from the shops close to the Golden Temple
places to visit
The Golden Temple  is the main attraction in the city, and the most important religious place to the Sikhs. It's a stunning complex, and always full of thousands of pilgrims from all over India, excited to be at a place that they usually only see on television. The excitement to be here is infectious, and many people will be more than happy to tell you all about their religion and customs, and show you around the temple itself. Cover your head, remove your shoes and wander around one of the most amazing places in India. The complex is open almost 24 hours (from 6 AM until 2 AM) and is worth visiting twice: once during the day, once at night, when it's beautifully lit up.
As you arrive near the complex, you will more likely than not be accosted by hawkers trying to sell you bandannas to cover your head. It's not a bad souvenir for Rs.10, but there's also a big barrel of free ones to choose from at the entrance itself. Deposit your shoes at the subterranean building to the left of the entrance, wash your feet at the entrance and head in.
- Darshani Deori. This is the main entrance, sporting a distinctly Victorian clock-tower.
- Amrit Sarovar. The giant pool of water that surrounds and reflects the Golden Temple. Sections (marked off by ropes) are set aside for (male) pilgrims wishing to bathe.
- Harmandir Sahib. This is the Golden Temple itself, floating above the Amrit Sarovar, housing the sacred Adi Granth scripture which is recited out loud during the day. This is the most crowded point, accessible by a bridge from the edge of the pool, and entry here is regulated by guards.
- Akal Takht, directly opposite the Harmandir Sahib. Meaning "the Timeless, this is where the highest council of Sikhs sits and deliberates. At night, the Guru Granth Sahib is taken to the Akal Takht.
- Central Sikh Museum, 2nd floor (entrance on the right side of the main side of the main entrance). Devoted to large gallery of paintings, mostly showing the gruesome ways countless Sikhs have been martyred, and various knick-knacks from the gurus. Free.
All Sikhs are expected at some point in their lives to volunteer for a week at the temple, and everyone you see working here is fulfilling that duty. It's likely possible that you can join in if you feel so inclined - you could start by chatting up the people outside peeling vegetables, or those washing dishes.
Jallianwala Bagh (Garden) is a short 5-minute walk from the Golden Temple, and is the site of the 1919 Amritsar massacre. On April 13 of that year, British Indian Army soldiers opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. The firing lasted about 10 minutes and 1650 rounds were fired, killing 1579 people.
A memorial was built on the site and inaugurated by the then-President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on 13 April 1961. to this day the bullet holes can be seen on the walls and adjoining buildings. The well into which many people jumped and drowned attempting to save themselves from the hail of bullets is also a protected monument inside the park.
Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
This palace is located in the Ram Bagh park. Now the palace houses a museum, exibiting oil paintings, miniatures, coins and weapons from the Sikh period.
In this park is the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, so ask, if you are at the right museum
what to eat
* The Golden Temple has a dining hall (langar) serving free basic meals to all... A definite must for visitors. Plates and spoons are handed out near the entrance, then follow the crowds inside and take the next vacant spot in one of the rows on the floor. Servers come by with large buckets of dal, chapatis and rice. Make sure to finish everything on your plate (wasting food isn't an option here!) then take it outside to volunteers at the washing area. It's inside the complex which means no shoes and cover your head.
* Crystal Restaurant, around the corner of Bhandari Bridge serves up great Indian, Italian, Continental and Chinese food.
* My Kind of Place offers fast food such as pizza, burgers, and chips. It offers Chinese & Continental food also.
* The Brothers or Bharavan the Dhaba, is place situated near to Golden Temple where you can eat traditional food or chinese, continental where you can enjoy taste of your choice at affordable prices.
* New Punjabi Rasoi, around the corner from the temple it's one of the most popular restaurants in town and serves up great Indian food including tasty masala dosas. Meals ~Rs 40-60.
* Neelam's, a few doors down from New Punjabi Rasoi, offers pizza and other basics. Meals from Rs 30.
* Pizza Hut, Yes, the American chain. about a 30 - 50 Rs Auto-Rickshaw ride from the golden temple. Most auto-rickshaw drivers know where it is, or can get directions. Good if your stomach needs a western meal for a change. Comes with customer service that one would expect in a four-star restaurant in the west.
* kesar da dhaba. Located near the Golden Temple, it offers good Punjabi food made in pure ghee. Daal Makhni is worth trying. Don't forget to try a glass of Lassi after a heavy meal. edit
* Bubby Dhaba, opposite Golden Temple (Just opposite the main entrance of Golden Temple). serves authentic Punjabi food at a very reasonable cost and ideally located, just few meteres from the main entrance of the Holy Golden Temple
get there and around
get there and around-transport
Amritsar's international airport, Raja Sansi International Airport, has
more than 150 domestic and international flights during the week with
daily connections to Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu.
Amritsar is well connected by trains with daily trains from Delhi,
Bombay, Calcutta and other major Indian cities. The main railway station
in Amritsar is the Amritsar Railway Station. There is a special train
that runs west to Wagah (Attari border), which is the last stop on the
border in India before continuing on to Pakistan. Indian Railways has
proposed a high speed rail line to serve Delhi-Amritsar via Chandigarh
and Ambala. The train is to run at high speeds of 350 km/h, a first of
its kind in India. It will travel the distance of 445 km between the two
cities in 2.5 hours (compared to nearly 8 hours right now). Companies
from Japan, China, UK and Canada have expressed an interest in the
project. The contract for building the line will be awarded at the end
of May, 2008. Other lines of this kind have proposed in Mumbai,
Ahmadabad, Pune, and Kolkata.
Amritsar is located on the historic Grand Trunk Road or G.T Road or
National Highway 1 (NH 1) and therefore, very well connected to the road
network. Daily bus services run to and from Ambala, Delhi, Chandigarh
and Jammu. A sum of Rs 450 crore is being spent to expand the
Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of G.T. Road to four lanes. In 2006, the
government of Punjab finalized plans for the construction of an elevated
road with four lanes connected to the National highway for better access
to the Golden Temple.
For transportation within Amritsar city, rickshaws, autorickshaws, taxis
and buses are easily available. Recently, the government of India and
Punjab pledged Rs. 2,100 Crore for the development of a Mass Rapid
Transport system for the city. It is hoped that this
will help in relieving traffic congestion and improving air quality.