Amritsar Travel Guide: Things to Do in Amritsar, Punjab

Located within proximity to the border, Amritsar will be the first city you’ll visit coming from Pakistan. It is a big one, too, as it is home to the Golden Temple, the most significant in Sikhism.

It has also seen unimaginable tragedy – a massacre happened, and it was at the centre of the India-Pakistan partition. In short, don’t miss Amritsar on your travels in Northern India.

Come check out our top travel guide to Amritsar as we cover the best things to do in Amritsar, Punjab, India.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Amritsar City Guide: A Brief History Of Amritsar, India

Amritsar, a city located in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab, has a rich and fascinating history. The city’s name derives from two Punjabi words: “amrit,” meaning nectar, and “sar,” meaning pool. The name is associated with the Amrit Sarovar, the sacred pool located inside the Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple.

The origins of Amritsar can be traced back to the 16th century, when Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, founded the city in 1577. He also established the Harmandir Sahib, which would later become the holiest site in Sikhism. Over the centuries, Amritsar grew in size and importance, becoming a center of commerce, culture, and spirituality.

One of the most significant events in Amritsar’s history took place in 1919, when British Indian Army soldiers opened fire on a peaceful crowd of unarmed protesters in Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden in the city. The incident, which became known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and sparked widespread outrage across India. It is now remembered as a tragic and pivotal moment in India’s struggle for independence.

Today, Amritsar is a vibrant and bustling city, attracting visitors from all over the world to its many cultural and historical attractions. From the ornate beauty of the Golden Temple to the vibrant markets of the old city, Amritsar continues to be an important center of Sikh culture and a must-see destination for anyone interested in the history and heritage of India.

Amritsar Travel Guide: Things to do in Amritsar, Punjab, India

Amritsar Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Punjab

Like Agra, most travellers come to Amritsar for one reason – to see an attraction with worldwide appeal. In this Northern Indian city, that sight is none other than the Golden Temple. Also known as the Sri Harmandir Sahib, which translates into ‘Abode of God’, it is a sight to behold.

Easily the holiest of all Gurdwaras in Sikhism, pilgrims visit regularly through the calendar year. Its constructors built it around a lake – at its centre sits an inner temple, gilded in gold (hence the name). First completed in 1577 by Guru Ram Das, it has been the target of invaders numerous times. Despite being destroyed and defiled repeatedly, the faithful rebuilt the Gurdwara each time. As a result, it remains a beacon for Sikhs around the world, as well as curious tourists.

Be sure to also stick around for a free meal from their langar. Every day, this kitchen prepares simple vegetarian fare for over 100,000 people. Even as a non-believer, you are welcome to sit and eat with the other pilgrims – don’t miss your chance.

Don’t leave the grounds of the Golden Temple without checking out the Akal Takht. Over the years, it was here where Jathedars (Sikh head clergy) heard spiritual and earthly concerns. The importance of this building to the Sikh leadership made it a target during Operation Blue Star.

In 1984, the Indian Army descended upon the structure, engaging the armed guards of the Jathedar. The Indian government did this to quash a separatist movement that threatened to create a new region called Khalistan.

Prior visitors to Amritsar have a reason to return, as Gobindgarh Fort is open to the public. Restricted for military use until February 2017, this historic structure has been around since the 18th century. Authorities built the temple to defend the city from invaders and wandering bandits, both significant threats in years past.

Its appearance isn’t the only reason to visit – fort managers have hired actors to bring the past to life. Not only can you interact with them, but they also perform a live show in the evening. If you won’t be around to catch it, be sure to take in the ‘7D movie experience’ instead.

In central Amritsar, you’ll come across a beautiful garden called Jallianwala Bagh. Despite its peaceful, calm atmosphere, it was ground zero for unspeakable horror on April 13th, 1919. In the preceding days, British colonial authorities passed a declaration limiting public gatherings. They had done this to crack down on rising support for Indian independence.

However, colonial authorities have not adequately communicated the ban on public gatherings to the people of Amritsar. On April 13th, people spilt into the Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate Baisakhi (the Sikh New Year). Colonel Reginald Dyer, who was in charge that day, ordered soldiers to open fire on the crowd.

By the time soldiers had fired their last bullet, 379 lay dead, with approximately 1,100 wounded. Today, a memorial honours those who fell. You’ll also find markers that show from where soldiers fired, and visible bullet marks on brick walls.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Amritsar, India

While in Amritsar, learn about the chaos created by the division of British India at The Partition Museum. In 1947, the UK, in a bid to separate Hindu and Muslims, created Pakistan and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh).

Rather than calm tensions, it created chaos. Overnight, countless millions on both sides of the new borders were forced to pack up their lives and move. They were suddenly subject to violence in what used to be their home, on the road, and in their new country.

When the dust settled, more than one million people had died on both sides. The tension created over this upheaval continues to plague India-Pakistan relations to this day. In this institution, you’ll get to take in first-person accounts, see archival footage, and check out displays that bring those chaotic days to life.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

If you have time, check out the Durgiana Temple. The most significant Hindu temple in Amritsar, its builder patterned its design after the Golden Temple. This temple honours Goddess Durga (goddess of war), Goddess Laksmi (goddess of wealth), and Vishnu.

Finally, take a moment to get a photograph of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Statue. This monument honours Maharaja Ranjit Singh, leader of the Sikh Empire in the first half of the 19th century. Found between the Golden Temple and the Partition Museum, it is easy to take in, so don’t miss it.

Top 10 Things To Do in Amritsar, Punjab For Visitors

The top 10 things to do in Amritsar, Punjab:

  1. Visit the Golden Temple: The most popular attraction in Amritsar is the Golden Temple, a beautiful Sikh temple that is covered in gold. Visitors can explore the temple complex, learn about Sikhism, and watch the daily rituals and ceremonies.
  2. Attend the Wagah Border Ceremony: One of the most unique experiences in Amritsar is attending the Wagah Border Ceremony, a daily flag-lowering ceremony that takes place on the India-Pakistan border. The ceremony is a display of patriotism and is accompanied by energetic music and dancing.
  3. Explore Jallianwala Bagh: Jallianwala Bagh is a historical garden in Amritsar that is home to a memorial dedicated to the victims of a tragic massacre that took place in 1919. Visitors can learn about the history of the site and pay their respects to the victims.
  4. Shop at the Hall Bazaar: The Hall Bazaar is a bustling market in Amritsar where visitors can shop for traditional Punjabi clothing, jewelry, and handicrafts. The market is a great place to experience the local culture and pick up souvenirs.
  5. Visit the Partition Museum: The Partition Museum is a museum in Amritsar that tells the story of the Partition of India in 1947. The museum is home to a collection of photographs, personal stories, and historical artifacts that provide insight into this significant event.
  6. Explore the Gobindgarh Fort: The Gobindgarh Fort is a historic fort in Amritsar that was once a symbol of power and military might. Visitors can explore the fort, watch traditional Punjabi performances, and learn about the history of the region.
  7. Experience the Amritsari cuisine: Amritsar is famous for its delicious food, especially its street food. Visitors can try local specialties such as Amritsari Kulcha, Chole Bhature, and Lassi. There are also many high-end restaurants in the city that serve Punjabi cuisine.
  8. Take a Heritage Walk: Amritsar is a city rich in history and culture, and a Heritage Walk is a great way to explore the city’s hidden gems. The walk takes visitors through the narrow lanes of the city, showcasing the old architecture and local culture.
  9. Visit Ram Bagh: Ram Bagh is a beautiful garden in Amritsar that was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in memory of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru. The garden is home to a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and is a popular spot for locals to relax and unwind.
  10. Explore the Mata Temple: The Mata Temple is a popular Hindu temple in Amritsar that is dedicated to the goddess Durga. The temple is known for its beautiful architecture and vibrant celebrations during the Navratri festival. Visitors can explore the temple and learn about Hinduism.

Kulcha is a must try dish for anyone visiting Amritsar, Punjab, India

What To Eat and Drink in Amritsar, India

Amritsar is a foodie’s paradise and has an extensive range of food items to offer. Here are some of the must-try dishes and drinks in Amritsar:

  1. Amritsari Kulcha: A popular North Indian dish, this is a type of flatbread stuffed with mashed potatoes, onions, and spices. It is baked in a tandoor and served hot with chole (chickpea curry) and raita (yogurt dip).
  2. Butter Chicken: A classic Punjabi dish, this is a rich and creamy tomato-based gravy that is cooked with boneless chicken pieces. It is best enjoyed with tandoori roti (flatbread) or naan.
  3. Lassi: A traditional Punjabi drink, this is a thick and creamy yogurt-based drink that is sweetened with sugar or honey. It is best enjoyed during the hot summer months.
  4. Chole Bhature: A popular Punjabi breakfast item, this is a spicy chickpea curry served with deep-fried bhature (a type of flatbread made with maida flour).
  5. Amritsari Fish: This is a local delicacy made with fresh fish fillets that are marinated in a mixture of spices, gram flour, and ajwain (carom seeds). It is deep-fried until golden brown and served hot with mint chutney.
  6. Tandoori Chicken: This is a famous Indian dish where chicken is marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices and then cooked in a tandoor (clay oven). It is juicy, flavorful, and best enjoyed with mint chutney.
  7. Pinni: A popular Punjabi sweet, this is a type of ladoo made with roasted wheat flour, ghee, and jaggery. It is often consumed during the winter months to keep the body warm.
  8. Samosas: A ubiquitous snack in India, these are crispy fried or baked triangular pastries filled with spiced potatoes, peas, and onions.
  9. Chaat: A popular street food, this is a savory snack made with a combination of crispy fried dough, boiled potatoes, chickpeas, and chutneys. It is best enjoyed fresh and hot from the street vendors.
  10. Thandai: A traditional Indian drink, this is a sweet and refreshing beverage made with milk, sugar, and a variety of nuts and spices like cardamom, fennel, and saffron. It is typically consumed during the festival of Holi.

These are just a few of the many delicious food and drink options that Amritsar has to offer. Visitors are sure to leave the city with a satisfied and happy stomach.

Top Restaurants In Amritsar, Punjab

Amritsar, a city in the northern state of Punjab, is known for its rich culinary heritage. Here are some of the top restaurants in Amritsar that offer a delicious and authentic taste of Punjabi cuisine:

  1. Kesar Da Dhaba: Founded in 1916, Kesar Da Dhaba is a legendary restaurant that has been serving authentic Punjabi food for over a century. The restaurant is famous for its dal makhani and lachha paratha.
  2. Bharawan Da Dhaba: Another popular dhaba in Amritsar, Bharawan Da Dhaba is known for its chole bhature, aloo kulcha, and lassi.
  3. Kanha Sweets: Kanha Sweets is a famous sweet shop in Amritsar that offers a wide range of traditional Punjabi sweets, including laddoos, barfis, and jalebis.
  4. Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner: If you’re a fan of seafood and chicken, Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner is a must-visit restaurant in Amritsar. The restaurant is famous for its tandoori fish and chicken dishes.
  5. Surjit Food Plaza: Surjit Food Plaza is a popular restaurant in Amritsar that offers a range of Punjabi dishes, including stuffed parathas, chole kulche, and rajma chawal.
  6. Beera Chicken House: Beera Chicken House is a small eatery in Amritsar that is famous for its tandoori chicken and chicken tikka.
  7. Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wale: Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wale is a street food stall that is famous for its crispy and juicy jalebis. The stall has been around for over a century and is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth.
  8. Brijwasi Chat Bhandar: Brijwasi Chat Bhandar is a popular street food stall that offers a range of chaat items, including aloo tikki, papdi chaat, and dahi bhalla.
  9. Brothers Dhaba: Brothers Dhaba is a famous vegetarian restaurant in Amritsar that is known for its thalis, which come with a variety of vegetarian dishes.
  10. Giani Tea Stall: Giani Tea Stall is a small tea stall that is famous for its masala chai and bread omelette. It’s a great place to grab a quick breakfast or snack while exploring the city.

Tours For Visitors To Amritsar, India

Amritsar is a place that attracts a large number of tourists from all around the world. It is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in India, including the Golden Temple, which is considered to be one of the most sacred places for the Sikh community. If you are planning to visit Amritsar and want to explore its rich culture and history, here are some tours that you can consider:

  1. Golden Temple Tour: This tour takes you to the iconic Golden Temple, where you can witness the daily prayer ceremony and learn about the Sikh religion and its history.
  2. Wagah Border Tour: The Wagah Border, located between India and Pakistan, is known for the famous flag-lowering ceremony that takes place every evening. This tour takes you to the border to witness the ceremony and learn about the history of the partition of India.
  3. Amritsar Food Tour: Amritsar is known for its delicious street food, and this tour takes you to some of the best food stalls and restaurants in the city. You can try some of the famous dishes like Amritsari Kulcha, Chole Bhature, and Lassi.
  4. Amritsar Heritage Walk: This tour takes you through the narrow streets of the old city, where you can see the beautiful architecture of the old buildings and learn about the history of the city.
  5. Jallianwala Bagh Tour: Jallianwala Bagh is a historic garden in Amritsar, where a tragic massacre took place in 1919. This tour takes you to the garden, where you can learn about the history of the massacre and pay homage to the victims.
  6. Amritsar Bicycle Tour: This tour takes you on a bicycle ride through the city, where you can explore the local markets, see the beautiful architecture, and experience the daily life of the people of Amritsar.
  7. Mata Lal Devi Mandir Tour: The Mata Lal Devi Mandir is a famous temple in Amritsar, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga. This tour takes you to the temple, where you can witness the daily prayer ceremony and learn about the Hindu religion and its history.
  8. Amritsar Photography Tour: Amritsar is a city full of vibrant colors, beautiful architecture, and interesting people. This tour takes you to some of the best spots in the city for photography, where you can capture some amazing shots.
  9. Amritsar Shopping Tour: Amritsar is known for its textiles and handicrafts, and this tour takes you to some of the best markets and shops in the city, where you can buy some unique souvenirs.
  10. Amritsar Village Tour: This tour takes you to the rural areas around Amritsar, where you can experience the traditional way of life of the people of Punjab, see the beautiful countryside, and try some of the delicious Punjabi food.

Amritsar Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Amritsar, a city in the northern Indian state of Punjab, is a vibrant and bustling destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. The city is known for its rich history, culture, and food, and has a variety of accommodation options that cater to all budgets and preferences. Here is a guide to accommodations in Amritsar:

  1. Luxury hotels: Amritsar has a range of luxury hotels that provide the best in comfort and hospitality. The Taj Swarna, Radisson Blu Hotel Amritsar, and Hyatt Amritsar are some of the top choices.
  2. Mid-range hotels: For those looking for something more affordable but still comfortable, there are many mid-range hotels in Amritsar. The Ramada Amritsar, Fairfield by Marriott Amritsar, and Lemon Tree Hotel Amritsar are some good options.
  3. Budget hotels: There are many budget hotels and guesthouses in Amritsar that offer basic accommodation at affordable prices. Some popular options are the Hotel CJ International, Hotel City Heart, and Hotel Hong Kong Inn.
  4. Homestays: For a more local and immersive experience, consider staying at a homestay in Amritsar. You can stay with a local family, learn about their culture and way of life, and enjoy homemade food. Some popular homestays in Amritsar are the Green Acres Haveli, Golden Temple Homestay, and Mrs. Bhandari’s Guesthouse.
  5. Hostels: Amritsar has a few hostels that are great for solo travelers or those on a tight budget. Hostel La Vista, Backpackers Nest, and Jugaadus Eco Hostel are some of the best options.

No matter what your budget or preference, there is an accommodation option in Amritsar that will suit your needs. Make sure to book in advance, especially during peak season, to secure your preferred choice.

Day Trips From Amritsar, India

Amritsar, with its rich history and cultural significance, is a city that has a lot to offer. There are several nearby destinations that are worth visiting as day trips from Amritsar. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Wagah Border: Located about 30 kilometers from Amritsar, the Wagah Border is a popular destination for tourists. It is the only border crossing between India and Pakistan that is open to foreigners. Every evening, a flag-lowering ceremony takes place at the border, which is a spectacle worth witnessing.
  2. Jallianwala Bagh: This historical garden is located in the heart of Amritsar and is a site of great significance. It is the site of the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre that took place in 1919. Today, the garden has been converted into a memorial for the victims of the massacre.
  3. Harike Wetland and Bird Sanctuary: Located about 60 kilometers from Amritsar, the Harike Wetland and Bird Sanctuary is a great place to spend a day in nature. It is home to a variety of bird species and other wildlife, and offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  4. Pul Kanjari: This historical village is located about 35 kilometers from Amritsar and is famous for its mosque, which was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The village also has a historic well and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  5. Gobindgarh Fort: Located in the heart of Amritsar, the Gobindgarh Fort is a historic fort that was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Today, the fort has been converted into a museum and is a great place to learn about the history of the city.
  6. Ram Tirth: This historical site is located about 11 kilometers from Amritsar and is believed to be the site where Sita gave birth to her sons, Luv and Kush. It is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus and is also believed to be the site where the ashram of Maharishi Valmiki was located.
  7. Bathinda Fort: Located about 120 kilometers from Amritsar, the Bathinda Fort is a historic fort that dates back to the 6th century. It is a great place to learn about the history of the region and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
  8. Khajjiar: Located about 230 kilometers from Amritsar, Khajjiar is a picturesque hill station that is often referred to as the “Mini Switzerland of India.” It is known for its lush green meadows, dense forests, and scenic beauty.
  9. McLeod Ganj: Located about 200 kilometers from Amritsar, McLeod Ganj is a small town that is known for its scenic beauty and Tibetan culture. It is the residence of the Dalai Lama and is also known for its monasteries and temples.
  10. Anandpur Sahib: Located about 150 kilometers from Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib is a holy city that is home to the Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five takhts of Sikhism. It is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the Sikh religion.

Amritsar Transportation Guide

Amritsar is a well-connected city, and transportation options are plentiful. Here are some ways to get around Amritsar:

  1. Taxis and Auto-rickshaws: Taxis and auto-rickshaws are readily available in Amritsar, and they are an affordable way to get around the city. Auto-rickshaws are especially useful for short trips within the city.
  2. Buses: The Punjab Roadways and PRTC buses are the primary means of public transportation in Amritsar. They are relatively inexpensive, and there are bus routes that connect to all the major tourist attractions in the city.
  3. Trains: Amritsar is well-connected by train to other major cities in India, including Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. The Amritsar Railway Station is located in the heart of the city, and it is a convenient way to travel to and from the city.
  4. Bicycle Rentals: For the eco-conscious traveler, renting a bicycle is a great way to get around Amritsar. There are several bike rental companies in the city, and they offer a variety of options to suit your needs.
  5. Car Rentals: Car rentals are also available in Amritsar, but they can be expensive, especially if you are traveling solo. However, if you are traveling in a group, renting a car may be a more cost-effective option.
  6. Walking: Amritsar is a compact city, and walking is a great way to explore its many narrow lanes and alleys. Walking is also a good way to get a feel for the local culture and meet some of the friendly locals.

Overall, Amritsar is a very accessible city, and there are plenty of transportation options available to help you get around and explore all that it has to offer.

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Amritsar?

If you’re looking to explore more of India after your trip to Amritsar, there are plenty of options for you. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Delhi: The capital city of India is just a few hours away from Amritsar by train or bus. Delhi has a rich history and is home to many iconic landmarks such as the Red Fort, India Gate, and Qutub Minar.
  2. Jaipur: Known as the “Pink City,” Jaipur is a popular destination in Rajasthan for its stunning palaces, vibrant markets, and rich history. It’s a bit of a longer journey from Amritsar, but well worth the trip.
  3. Dharamshala: If you’re interested in Tibetan culture, Dharamshala is a must-visit destination. It’s home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, as well as many monasteries and temples.
  4. Agra: The city of Agra is home to one of the most famous landmarks in India, the Taj Mahal. It’s about a five-hour drive from Amritsar, but you can also take a train or bus.
  5. Amritsar-Wagah Border: While not technically a different city, the Wagah Border is a popular day trip from Amritsar. You can witness the daily border ceremony, which involves a display of military drill and ceremony by the Indian and Pakistani armies.
  6. Chandigarh: The capital of the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh is a modern and well-planned city. It’s also home to the famous Rock Garden, a sculpture garden made of recycled materials.
  7. Shimla: Known for its stunning mountain views and colonial architecture, Shimla is a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists. It’s a bit of a longer journey from Amritsar, but worth it for the scenery.
  8. Rishikesh: Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is known as the “Yoga Capital of the World.” It’s a popular destination for spiritual seekers and adventure enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities for rafting, trekking, and more.
  9. Varanasi: Considered one of the holiest cities in India, Varanasi is known for its ghats (steps leading down to the Ganges river), where Hindu pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. It’s a bit of a longer journey from Amritsar, but worth it for the spiritual experience.
  10. Mumbai: If you’re looking for a big city experience, Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is a great option. It’s home to India’s bustling film industry, as well as many iconic landmarks such as the Gateway of India and Marine Drive.

Amritsar rooftop in Punjab, India

Amritsar Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Amritsar, a city that embodies a rich blend of history, culture, and spirituality, is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to India. From its magnificent Golden Temple to its delicious cuisine, Amritsar offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The city’s deep-rooted history and the warmth of its people make it a place that travelers will not soon forget.

One of the things that makes Amritsar so special is the way it seamlessly blends the old with the new. Visitors can explore the city’s ancient forts and palaces, and then head to the bustling markets to indulge in some shopping. The city’s food scene is another highlight, offering a variety of dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Amritsar is also a spiritual hub, attracting devotees from all over the world. The Golden Temple, also known as Harmandir Sahib, is the holiest shrine for Sikhs and one of the most visited tourist attractions in India. The temple’s stunning architecture and serene surroundings create a sense of tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere.

Hence, Amritsar is a city that has something to offer everyone. Whether you are interested in history, culture, spirituality, or just want to indulge in some delicious food, Amritsar is the perfect destination. So, pack your bags and head to this amazing city to experience all that it has to offer.

Golden temple standing proud, A city that’s devout, Amritsar, oh how it calls, To travelers one and all.

Rich history fills the streets, Food to savor and sweet treats, From Jallianwala Bagh to the Wagah border, Each moment in Amritsar seems even broader.

The hustle and bustle of the market, And the tranquility of the temple, The warmth of the people, And the city’s unique ensemble.

Amritsar, city of the brave, The city that the world should crave, With open arms it welcomes all, And with a promise to enthrall.

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