Punjab is literally called the "Land of Five Rivers" as the name is derived from the Persian words "Panj," which means five, and "Ab," which means river. The five rivers that give this piece of land its name are: the Sutlej, the Beas, the Ravi, the Chenab, and the Jhelum. Since the independence of India, the state shares an international boundary with Punjab in Pakistan.
Most followed religion in the state is Sikhism, followed by Hinduism. However, the co-existence of many religions, even if in minority, makes it one of the most beautiful places in India.
Let us list down the top 24 places that you should not miss while on a trip to Punjab:
In 1809, Maharaja Ranjit Singh constructed this structure out of marble and copper, covering the sanctuary in gold leaf. It was at that point that it earned the name "Golden Temple." A sacred sarover has been erected all around the temple. The Gurudwara is open to people of all faiths and beliefs, even though it is one of the most important places for Sikhism adherents. It spreads a message of peace and harmony. The Golden Temple is, undoubtedly, the most attractive tourist place in Punjab.
Akal Takht is located within the premises too. Built with marble and gold-leaf coated dome, the Akal Takht serves as a court of law for civil and non-spiritual matters.
Timings: Open 24 hours
Things to do/see: Langar, Sewa, Akal Takht
On 13th April 1919, many Indians had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi. On receiving the news, General Dyer reached the spot with his troops and opened fire on the defenceless and unarmed civilians. Since the soldiers had blocked the only exit, it caused a stampede as no one could get out. Many of them decided to dive into the well to avoid the gunshots because there was no other way to get away. The horrific recollections of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre have been ingrained in the nation's psyche ever since.
The Martyr's Well and the bullet holes in several buildings are still visible. A memorial was constructed in 1951 in remembrance of the people who were killed.
Timings: 6.30 am – 7.30 pm
Things to do/see: Memorial, Martyr’s well
Chandigarh’s Rock Garden, a favourite of environmentalists, artists, and tourists alike, offers a stunning contrast to the city’s mathematically planned cityscape with its curving and unstructured construction. In honour of its creator Nek Chand Saini, a government employee who began constructing the garden covertly in his leisure time in 1957, it is also known as Nek Chand Saini's Rock Garden and is one of the top attractions in Chandigarh.
All sculptures are entirely constructed of trash and discarded materials from the workplace and the household. Because of its greenery and well-maintained infrastructure, Chandigarh is considered among India’s Top 20 cleanest cities to explore and admire.
Timings: 9 am – 7 pm
Things to do/see: Man-made interlinked waterfalls, Doll Museum, Sculptures made of recycled materials
This substantial three-story building, located near Old Moti Bagh Palace, was built by Maharaja Narendra Singh. The fort combines aspects of both European and Mughal design and was constructed to provide a venue for the various scholars, artists and poets who frequently visited his court. Literally meaning "Palace of Mirrors”, it contains incredible collection of miniature paintings.
The renowned medal gallery is home to the biggest collection of medals and decorations in the whole world. The Sheesh Mahal and the exhibition building Banasar Ghar are connected by a magnificent suspension bridge that formerly crossed a lake which is now dry.
Timings: 9 am – 5 pm
Things to do/see: Statues of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and Queen Victoria, paintings, intricate mirror work
The border separates India and Pakistan’s Punjab states and runs along the Grand Trunk Road. From your hotels in Amritsar, you may simply take a bus or a cab to the Attari-Wagah border which is around 30 kilometres from the city. The Beating Retreat ceremony custom dates back to 1959 and aids in sustaining friendly ties between India and Pakistan. Every evening, the 45-minute ritual is carried out by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers at the Wagah border.
Both countries play their national anthems, lower down their national flags simultaneously and shut the border gates for the night.
Location: 30 kms from Amritsar
Timings: 4.15 pm – 5 pm (during winters) & 5.15 pm – 6 pm (during summers)
Things to do/see: The Beating Retreat Ceremony
Designed after France's Versailles Palace, the Jagatjit Palace was built at the start of the 19th century and was home to Maharaja Jagatjit Singh. Its stunning Indo-Saracen architecture makes it one of the top places to see in Punjab. The place has been turned into military school since 1961.
The painted ceilings of the palace showcase the finest of French aesthetics while the interiors of the building exhibit an amazing synthesis of architectural forms. Ceremonial events were held at the Durbar Hall, which is completely adorned in Indian style. The Jagatjit Palace is home to the Maharaja's collection of European artefacts.
Timings: 9 am – 6 pm
Things to do/see: European artifacts and architecture of the palace
Built by Nawab Saif Khan in 1658 and renovated by Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala in 1837, the construction of the fort is magnificent. The Diwan-e-Aam and a lovely mosque are two notable Islamic-style attractions near the fort.
Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was invited to the fort and lived there for more than three months; and the place is named after him. Since 1989, the Punjab Police Commando Training School has been operating on the fort's premises. The fort, which also houses a mosque and a gurudwara, is a perfect example of peaceful religious tolerance.
Timings: 9 am – 3 pm
Things to do/see: Grave of Nawab Saif Khan, Gurudwara, Mosque, Diwan-e-Aam
Harike Wetlands & Bird Sanctuary
The Harike Wetland, located about 80 kilometres from the city of Amritsar, is a breath-taking place for nature lovers. The sanctuary, offering stunning views, is situated where the Rivers Beas and Sutlej converge. It is also known as "Hari ke Pattan" and was created as a man-made wetland in 1953.
Spanning across the towns of Amritsar, Ferozpur and Kapurthala, it is the largest wetland in Northern India. The area contains a variety of snake, amphibian, and turtle species. From October through March, the region draws thousands of migratory birds, making it one of the best places to visit in North India for bird lovers.
Location: Tarn Sahib District; at a distance of 80 kms from Amritsar
Timings: 9 am – 5 pm
Things to do/see: Migratory bird species, amphibian species, nature
Wonderland Amusement Park
This fun destination has both: a water park as well as amusement rides. Most loved area of the park is the wave pool. Some of the best rides include bumper cars, flying jets, the horror house, boating, kid boating, the play house, a flying dragon, and a slide splash.
You can enjoy the latest Punjabi music on the dance floor, which is built under a cloud-like canopy. The dry park is open all year, whereas the water park is closed during the winters. You can spend some quality time with your friends and family while having a blast here!
Location: Tajpur (near Jalandhar)
Timings: 10 am – 6.30 pm everyday
Things to do/see: Aqua dance floor, rides, water park
The Phillaur Fort is a representation of Punjab's rich history and is more than 200 years old. Dewan Mokham Chand, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s general, designed the fort with the help of Italian generals who served under the Maharaja. The Government of Punjab renamed the monument to "Maharaja Ranjit Singh Fort" on April 6, 1973. It has served as the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy since 1981
Situated along the Sutlej River, the fort also houses Pir Baba Abdullah Shah Ji's shrine. With watchtowers on the two gates and waterways dug along the fort's perimeter, the architecture of the fort has a very European character.
Location: Phillaur, 14 kms from Ludhiana
Timings: 9 am – 5 pm
Things to do/see: European architecture, Pir-i-Dastgir’s shrine
Devi Talab mandir
Devi Talab Mandir is among the top Hindu temples and is located in the city of Jalandhar, Punjab. Devoted to Goddess Durga, the temple receives thousands of pilgrims every year. It is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Pithas connected to Maa Sati. An ancient temple of Goddess Kali is located next to the main Devi Talab Mandir.
The ancient pond, which is more than 200 years old, is revered by Hindu worshippers and is one of the major attractions.
Timings: 6 am – 10 pm
Things to do/see: Ma Durga Murti, replica of Amarnath Cave Temple, sacred pond
Located in the heart of Ludhiana, the Pavilion Mall has multiple options to shop, eat, and have a great time. It is the one of the best malls in Punjab if you want to go shopping or hang out with your buddies. The mall has ample parking, decent retail selections, and a range of eateries and recreational pursuits.
Considered to be the best getaway in town, the mall has a great food court and showrooms of many established brands. It is most famous for its PVR Cinemas multiplex with seven screens.
Timings: 10:30 am – 9:30 pm
Things to do/see: Shopping, watch a movie at the 7-screen PVR multiplex
The park's expansive 4.5 acres are home to a range of entertaining activities that people of all ages take part in. The abundance of trees, gorgeous flowers and fountains in this park add to its charm. There are several fast-food restaurants and cafes right outside the park that are constantly crowded with tourists.
Many youngsters are drawn to the Nikku Park because of its magnificent rides and activities. The animated bull ride in the middle of the park, one of the main attractions for kids, must not be missed. The park is the ideal location for a morning jog as one can enjoy the cool breezes.
Timings: 3.30 pm – 7.30 pm
Things to do/see: Animated bull ride, swings, music fountain
Moti Bagh Palace
Maharaja Narinder Singh built the Old Moti Bagh Palace; whereas the new Moti Bagh Palace was constructed by Maharaja Yadavindra Singh. The palace combines elements of Indian and European architecture. Situated in in a lovely landscape with terraces and water channels, the front of the building contains jharokas and chhatris in the Rajasthani style.
A portion of the Old Moti Bagh palace has been turned into a museum while the remaining area in the royal compound of the King of Patiala houses the National Institute of Sports, claimed as Asia's largest sports academy. New Moti Bagh palace currently acts as the residence of former Chief Minister of Punjab.
Timings: 9 am – 5 pm
Things to do/see: NIS complex, museum, garden
Kali Mata Mandir
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala constructed Shri Kali Devi Temple in 1936. The six-foot-tall sculpture of Maa Kali and “Paawan Jyot” (or sacred fire) were brought from Bengal to Patiala by the Maharaja himself. Beautiful paintings, murals and inscriptions cover the temple’s walls and devotees travel from far away to visit this sacred place.
In the middle of this compound lies the Shri Raj Rajeshwari Ji temple, which is considerably older. The temple receives a lot of visitors throughout the Navratras. The holy place has been designated a national monument because of its exquisite architecture.
Timings: 5 am – 9 pm
Things to do/see: 6-foot-tall Kali Devi idol, Shri Raj Rajeshwari Ji temple, fine architecture
The exquisite interior design and French-style artwork of the Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala was inspired from the Grand Mosque of Marrakesh in Morocco. The mosque was said to be among the greatest in South-east Asia and was commissioned by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, the final king of Kapurthala. As a national monument, the mosque is guarded by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The mosque was a bold initiative by the Maharaja to encourage social unity among his people. In contrast to other mosques in India, it stands out because of the absence of exterior domes or minarets and the presence of a towering tower at one end of the structure.
Timings: 7 am – 9 pm
Things to do/see: French-inspired design, marble construction, aesthetic beauty
Previously known as Dhameri Fort, the Nurpur Fort was partially destroyed by the British and then hit by an earthquake later. The Brij Raj Swami shrine inside the fort is one of the few locations where the idols of Lord Krishna and Meera Bai are worshipped together. The elegance of its architecture and extensive history is very fascinating.
Raja Basu, the king of Pathankot, built the enormous Nurpur Fort. It is renowned for its striking architectural elements, especially the walls with their intricately carved panels showing different characters. Later, Shah Jahan renamed the fort after his wife Nur Jahan. The elaborate carvings that are still visible on the fort and temple walls attest to Nurpur fort's former splendour.
Timings: 9 am – 5 pm
Things to do/see: Nagni Mata Temple, Shri Brij Swami temple, 400-year-old Maulshri tree
Bhakra Nangal Dam
The second-tallest dam in Asia, the Bhakra-Nangal dam, was constructed on the Satluj River and is located on the boundary of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. A barrage dam called Nangal dam is located 10 kilometres downstream of Bhakra dam.
Even though they are two independent dams, usually the two are referred to as the Bhakra-Nangal Dam. This dam creates the third largest reservoir in India, the Gobindsagar Reservoir, which is home to a variety of fish species.The purpose of the project is to provide hydroelectricity, irrigation and protection against floods in the Satluj-Beas river basin.
Timings: 8 am – 3:15 pm (Monday – Saturday), 12 pm – 3:15 pm (Sunday)
Things to do/see: Remarkable view on the location, spillway gates, grandeur of the dam
With a height of 328 feet, Fateh Burj is the tallest minaret in India making it one of the top places to visit in Mohali. Constructed in 2011 on a 20-acre property within the premises of Baba Banda Bahadur War Memorial, the tower honours the founding of the Sikh Misls in 1711.
The war memorial's design is a scaled-down interpretation of Chappar Chiri, complete with miniature man-made hilltops. Most hotels in Mohali will help visitors in planning their time in the city, keeping this site as the first recommendation.
Timings: 10 am – 7 pm; closed on Mondays
Things to do/see: Life-sized statues of warriors, garden and greenery, the tall minar
The 1963 Bhakra-Nangal Project led to the creation of the human-made reservoir known as Nangal Wetlands. The extremely eco-sensitive Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary, which supports a variety of flora and animals including endangered species, is situated in the Shiwalik foothills of Punjab.
The Nangal dam has created a stunning artificial lake, which is about 6 km long. This lake is a lovely haven for bird enthusiasts as it hosts over 40,000 migrating birds during winters. Sutlej river, canals and majestic hills surround the beautiful Nangal wetlands and give you the most soothing environment to calm your mind and body.
Timings: No specific timings, but best visited between sunrise and sunset
Things to do/see: Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary, bird watching
Qila Anandgarh Sahib
Guru Gobind Singh Ji spent 25 years in Anandpur Sahib and Fort Anandgarh Sahib was one of the five forts he constructed in the city to defend the Sikhs against enemy. It was known as the "Fort of Bliss," and not far from it, a new Gurudwara has been built. Earthworks and subterranean tunnels were used to connect all five forts.
The 6-meter-square sanctuary of the hall is topped with a lotus dome. Of the five forts, it was the most powerful. The fort also features a historical baoli with 135 marble stairs that leads to the water level and is accessible through a covered corridor.
Location: Anandpur Sahib
Timings: Open 24 hours
Things to do/see: Magnificent structure, Gurudwara
The Rangla Punjab Haveli in Jalandhar is a cultural museum and showhouse for Punjabi culture, history, traditional way of life, and numerous art forms. You can indulge in various aspects of Punjabi activities like weaving, dancing, playing marbles and even fetching water.
The decor will transport you back in time to relive the "Pind" (village) life. Enjoy traditional dance performances of Bhangra and Gidda in the evening, clap for the magic tricks or laugh during the puppet show. Take a tour and see various sculptures of men and women engaged in routine tasks like weaving and sewing.
Timings: 12 pm – 4:30 pm; 6:30 pm – 11 pm
Things to do/see: Palm reading, puppet show, pottery making, magic show and much more
Pushpa Gujral Science City
The Science City Kapurthala aspires to be an institution of excellence that fosters creativity, especially in young minds, and instils a scientific mindset. It is situated 15 kilometres from Jalandhar and built over 72-acre area. Its mission statement is to foster an interest in how the physical world around us functions. To enhance the experience, simulation and visual experiences are provided.
It consists of a theatre and a digital planetarium that provide an interesting perspective on the uncharted world. A climate change theatre is built to inspire both young and elderly brains to contribute to the preservation of the world.
Timings: 9 am – 6 pm
Things to do/see: Space theatre movie, science exhibitions, dinosaur park, energy park, innovation hub
The Trilium Mall is, rightly, titled as the biggest mall in Punjab. Over 250 worldwide brands are housed in the sumptuous and elegant building, which also boasts a six-screen Inox multiplex. The mall is divided into two identical blocks, Block A and Block B, which are connected by multi-level aerobridges.
The mall was renamed "VR Ambarsar" after being sold to Virtuous Retail group in 2019 and serves as their flagship project. Due to its proximity to Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International airport, it is the ideal place to catch up with your friends.
Timings: 11 am – 9.30 pm
Things to do/see: Shopping, food, entertainment, activities
The state of Punjab has it all: historical monuments, latest infrastructure, greenery, lakes, birds, and wildlife. Being a successful mix of traditions and science, it is a favorite among travellers and explorers.