10th August 2015

How to Spend a Day in Amritsar, India

Amritsar had always intrigued me.

I didn’t know much about the city before I visited India, besides that it was home to the famous Golden Temple, which I had seen photos of on Instagram and Pinterest. This vibrant city is much more than just a temple though. Located in Punjab, North Western India, the name Amritsar means “Holy Pool of Nectar”.

Arriving in Amritsar after a 10+ hour journey on a local bus from Shimla, we were exhausted. We arrived at our accommodation, ordered room service and hit the sack.

The next morning, we were up bright and early – we only had one day in Amritsar and wanted to make the most of it! Here’s how we spent a full day in this wonderful city.

One day in Amritsar - spinthewindrose.com


Morning: The Golden Temple

This is an absolute must-do for anyone visiting Amritsar and is the main reason many tourists and Indian nationals visit the city. We arrived early, hoping to avoid the crowds, but it was very busy even when we got there just after 9am.

The most famous and important Sikh shrine in the world, the Golden Temple was constructed between 1585 and 1604, and is formally called the Harmandir Sahib (The Abode of God). A beautiful, white building encircles the complex, and the temple itself is surrounded by a pool of holy water. It is a peaceful refuge from the chaotic streets outside. Upon entering the temple, it’s like the outside world no longer exists – pilgrims and tourists alike are marvelled by the serenity of this holy place of worship.

Seeing the length of the queue into the Golden Temple itself, (and this was still early in the day!) James and I decided against waiting to go inside, and instead enjoyed a stroll around the outside complex and the surrounding rooms of worship.


Useful info:

Top tips:

Opening hours: 6am to 2am

Address: Golden Temple Road, Amritsar, Punjab, 143006.

How to get there: Auto-rickshaws (like tuk tuks) and taxis are probably the best way to get around the city – they will drop you at the end of the road to the Golden Temple since it is pedestrianised.

Website: www.goldentempleamritsar.org


Next: Jallianwala Bagh

A five minute walk from the Golden Temple, the Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden and memorial in memory of the Amritsar massacre of 13th April 1919. The experience is informative yet gravely saddening, as plaques and signs around the park illustrate the terror of the events during the British rule.

Very briefly, following a number of political events, British General Reginald Dyer ordered his troops to open fire for around 15 minutes on a crowd of innocent, unarmed Indians. The British government confirmed 379 fatalities, but according to one of the Civil Surgeons, the number of deceased is actually closer to 1000. Dyer subsequently enforced the “crawling order”, whereby any Indian wishing to cross a street on which an Englishwoman had been injured, had to do so on all fours.

We solemnly strolled around the site, feeling ashamed of our British roots, but also feeling grateful to learn the unedited version of the horrific events from the Indian point of view.

One day in Amritsar, India - spinthewindrose.comOne day in Amritsar, India - spinthewindrose.com

Useful information:

Opening hours: 6:30am to 7:30pm

Entry Fee: free

How to get there: Walk from the Golden Temple (5 mins), or take an auto or a taxi.

Further reading: if you want to read up further about the Amritsar massacre, have a look on the below websites (and note the underlying difference in opinion from English sources to Indian sources):

Website: www.jallianwalabagh.ca

One day in Amritsar, India - spinthewindrose.com


Afternoon: Durgiana Temple

After lunch, we took an auto to the Durgiana Temple, a sacred Hindu place of worship. The architecture strongly resembles that of the Golden Temple and it too is built in the middle of a holy lake.

The sheer excellence of the Golden Temple perhaps makes the Durgiana slightly underwhelming, but it is still beautiful in its own right and offers a peaceful stroll around the complex. It was a lot less crowded than the first temple, perhaps because it was under renovation.

Useful information:

Top Tips: As with most temples in India, you’ll need to cover your arms and legs, and leave your shoes in the clock room outside the temple.

Entry fee: Free

Opening hours: 6am – 10pm, 7 days a week

Address: Durgiana Tirath, Near Lohgarh Gate, Amritsar, Punjab, 143006.

How to get there: it’s not far from the Golden Temple so you could easily walk. Failing that, take an auto or taxi. Your driver will be happy to wait for you.

Website: www.durgianamandir.com


Evening: Wagah Border

At 2.30pm, we met in the Main Street that leads to the Golden Temple and boarded a ten seater minibus with other native and foreign tourists. There were lots of men standing around this area offering trips to the Pakistan-India border for a reasonable price. We arrived at around 3.30pm, left our bags in a locker and, armed with our passports, we headed towards the border.

Every evening at around 4.15pm, the Indian and Pakistani border forces take part in the flag-lowering ceremony as the border is closed. Before it starts, dancers perform and invite attendees to join. The ceremony itself involves a lot of marching from the guards, a mock stand off, lowering and raising the flags, and lots of gate-slamming. Thoroughly entertaining!

Useful information

Top tips:

How to get there: Taxis should cost around 800R, autos around 400R. The cheapest transport is minibus – ask at your hostel/hotel or speak to the hawkers nears the main sights in Amritsar.

Timings:

Entry fee: Free

A day in Amritsar, India - spinthewindrose.com


Next time:

One thing I really regret from our trip to Amritsar is not going back to the Golden Temple for dinner. Simple dinners are served to pilgrims, tourists and locals alike every  evening – meaning the homeless are guaranteed a decent meal. This one’s on the list for next time!

Where to stay in Amritsar

Use the form below to search for accommodation in Amritsar, or why not try Airbnb?



Booking.com


Have you been to India or visited Amritsar? I would recommend a visit to this city to anyone and I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Thanks for reading!


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7 responses to “How to Spend a Day in Amritsar, India”

  1. Natassia says:

    Thank you for the informative post. I am in Delhi and flying to Amritsar tomorrow morning. I found this very helpful.

  2. I just love the gold buildings! Great pics:)

  3. You know, when I was in India in 2013 – I missed this place. I just thought – we’ve seen so much, let’s just let this one go. And now – seeing your pictures I really regret not going. Amazing amazing place! ?

  4. delacroixllc says:

    You had me at the very first photo! What beautiful and intricate architecture. I’m a huge history buff, so this looks like the perfect spot for me.

  5. Amritsar is incredible – it’s one of my favourite places in my favourite country! You’ve covered all the best bits – great post!

  6. ngeleann says:

    Thank you for this informative post. On somewhere within Asia which can be part of my travel bucket list !
    Hoping to put this in soon !

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