Home to the Sikh’s holiest shrine, Harmandir Sahib or The Golden Temple, Amritsar for ‘pool of nectar’ was founded in 1579 by Guru Ram Das (the fourth Guru of the Sikhs). It is a city that encompasses serenity, sounds, aromas, chaos and life, all with equal love and acceptance. It is as much a history lover’s paradise as it is a foodie’s dreamland. A city that engages you as much as it humbles you.
Upon your arrival in Amritsar in the afternoon, check-in to your hotel. Then, proceed to visit the Golden Temple, considered as the spiritual and cultural centre of Sikhs. The Golden Temple is set amid a pool of holy water where visitors and devotees from all faiths are welcome. You will get a glimpse of the Sikh temple tradition of offering daily Guru-Ka-Langar – a free, community meal that began in the 16th century. As you watch the community kitchen feed up to 10,000 people, learn about this Sikh principle of equality and the practice of eating together. Spend the evening at leisure. Return to your hotel for an overnight stay.
On day 2, after breakfast, proceed for a sightseeing tour of Amritsar. Visit the famous Jallianwala Bagh (a memorial built to commemorate the martyrs of the 1919 massacre) and the Durgiana Mandir (dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga and Baba Atal Rai Tower). Next, visit the beautiful Ram Bagh Gardens and the remains of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer palace – now a national museum. Admire the statue of the legendary Raja upon his horse and marvel at the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, a three-dimensional mural that depicts the important life events of the legendary Sikh king.
In the evening, drive to the Wagah Border (25 kilometres from the city) between India and Pakistan. There, witness the ceremonial changing of guard, the march-past followed by the singing of national anthem and other patriotic songs. Soldeirs parading in full swing and the sight of India-Pakistan border from such close quarters is a mesmerising experience. Return to your hotel andenjoy your overnight stay.
On day 3, after breakfast, enjoy the “Old City tour of Amritsar”. We begin with a walk through Ram Bagh Bazaar, where you’ll see grocery shops selling food grains, pulses, jaggery, cooking oils and other local products. After exploring this area on foot, hail a local rickshaw and go on a ride through the scrap metal market, fish market, and Hall bazaar, past the Town Hall and the Gurudwara Saragarhi.
Then, continue on foot to Qila Ahluwalia, the remains of a small fortress, which now has homes of wealthy merchants. The cloth market in this area offers a dazzling range of fabrics – streets are abuzz with customers and porters loading and unloading goods. Stop at Jalebiwala Chowk to taste mouth-watering jalebis.
Next, visit some akharas (resting places for spiritual ascetics) and see the Chuda Bazaar (Bangle Market), where brides come to shop for red and white bridal bangles. See the Darshan Deori, a memorial built on the spot from where the Gurus Arjan and Hargobind would view the Golden Temple, and the Bartan Bazaar (Utensils Market).
Walk past the Baba Bohar, a centuries-old sacred banyan tree right in the middle of the old city’s narrow streets. A small shrine has been built around the base of the tree itself, and all the surrounding houses have been built very carefully around it. Visit Guru Bazaar, a dazzling jewellery market, with many designs on display. See Thakurdwara Dariana Mal, with ornate carvings based on Hindu mythology, containing shrines dedicated to Lord Krishna.
From here, take a rickshaw again, and exit the market area. In the evening, proceed to your next destination.