Amritsar, India

What to See

The Golden Temple

Full Golden Temple Experience: Visiting During the Day + Night
by Loren of foreignloren.com about 6 years ago

One of the things I enjoyed most about visiting the Golden Temple were the multiple visits I made to the site. I visited for several hours during the day to enjoy a meal, circumvent the sacred tank, see the temple, & take photos. However, at the end of the day, I returned to view the temple at night. In addition to being beautiful to photograph all lit up in the dark, there were fewer tourists & many locals and pilgrims were interested in sitting by the water and chatting with me. The atmosphere was more relaxed. I met families, had religious conversations with local Sikhs, & took photos with Indian tourists. Also, around 10:30 pm, the official who had led chanting throughout the day was removed via a carried chariot from the temple. A procession of people joined in & followed his removal for the day. If we hadn't returned that night, we would have missed this! So, if you have time, definitely try to visit the temple during the day & at night to get the full experience.

What to Eat

Local Specialties

Free Meals at the Golden Temple + 5-rupee Cokes in Amritsar
by Loren of foreignloren.com about 6 years ago

When visiting in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, along with pilgrims, locals, tourists, and everyone in between, you are invited to eat free meals at the Guru-Ka-Langar (the dining hall of the Golden Temple, which is located at the southeast end of the temple complex). Eating lunch or dinner at the temple is an experience that you don't want to miss. You don't have to be Sikh to eat. Anyone -- rich, poor, local, or foreign is welcome. Grab a plate, take a seat on the mats on the floor, and you will be served along with 60,00 to 80,000 others each day. Its a great way to not only see but to also actually experience Sikhism and the Golden Temple. After eating, you can provide a donation or offer to help wash dishes, but nothing is asked of you. Also, after a day of exploring the complex, a small store just outside the entrance near the Guru-Ka-Langar (with lots of Coca Cola signs) sells Cokes for just 5 rupees (less than 1 cent!). Its refreshing, especially on a hot day!

Restaurants

Local Punjabi Meal in Amritsar: Brothers' Dhaba
by Loren of foreignloren.com about 6 years ago

As Amritsar is located in Punjab State, visitors must try authentic Punjabi food while in town. Brothers' Dhaba is a delicious restaurant in the city within walking distance of the Golden Temple that serves local Punjabi specialties, thalis, and other Indian favorites, Brothers' Dhaba has reasonable prices and good food, catering to both locals and foreign visitors. Menus are available in English, and staff are able to easily take your order even if you don't speak Hindi. Service is fast and friendly. If we had stayed in town longer, we would have definitely returned a second time!

Festivals & Events

Government Ceremonies

Not to Miss: India-Pakistan Border Closing Ceremony
by Loren of foreignloren.com about 6 years ago

Outside of visiting the Golden Temple, the coolest thing that we did in Amritsar was attend the border closing ceremony on the India-Pakistan border. Amritsar is just under 30 km from the border, and you can easily get to the site of the border closing ceremony via bus or shared taxi. We found shared taxi to be easy & inexpensive. You can either go to the taxi stand near the Golden Temple & close to most of the guesthouses/hotels in town or you can coordinate a shared taxi through your hotel (which we did). You have to leave Amritsar by 3:15-3:30 pm to get there in time. Taxis drop you off about 1 km from the site (remember where your taxi will wait as it will be dark by the time the ceremony is over!) Foreigners get to sit in a VIP section (don't bring your passport for entry!). Cameras are allowed. However, just to avoid any issues or delays, just bring your camera & leave any bags/purses at your guesthouse. The ceremony is one of our most memorable experiences from all of India!

Getting Around

Bus

Free Bus from Amrtisar Train Station to Town
by Loren of foreignloren.com about 6 years ago

Most people arrive to Amritsar via train. However, rather than dealing with all of the touts when you arrive and trying to negotiate with a taxi or rickshaw to take you to your hotel/guesthouse, free transportation is offered to pilgrims, tourists, & all others from the train station to just outside of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. If you are planning to visit the temple, you will likely be staying at one of the guesthouses/hotels within walking distance. Taking advantage of this bus will not only save you money, but you'll also get to meet pilgrims who have come to Amritsar just to visit the temple. When you exit the train station, look for a yellow bus just across the street from the station. Its not necessarily labeled but you can confirm you are getting on the free bus with others waiting for or piling on the bus. The bus runs from approximately 4:30 am to 9:30 pm. However, if you are relying on it to return to the train station, just confirm operating times with the driver.