Amritsar is the second largest city in the state of Punjab, India. Having played a significant role in the history of independence, it has become one of the top visited places within the country. The town is home to one of the most sacred places for the followers of Sikhism, the Golden Temple.
Since ancient times, protection of the Sikh temple has been a priority and it truly deserves the spot. However, there are many other places in Amritsar that attract tourists and have so much to share.
We have a come up with a list of 10 best things to do in Amritsar, besides visiting the Golden Temple. You should not miss any of these if you wish to experience the true soul of Punjab. So, let’s start:
1) Feel Patriotic at the Wagah Border
Attari-Wagah border is around 30 kms away from the city of Amritsar and you can get a taxi or a bus to reach there. The border is named after the last villages on both sides: Attari in India and Wagah in Pakistan.
The 45-minutes Beating Retreat ceremony includes parade by the soldiers, playing of National Anthems, lowering of the National Flags and closing the border gates on both sides for the night. The ritual started in 1959 and helps in maintaining cordial relations between the two nations. We recommend reaching the place about 1 hour early as the seats are on first-come first-serve basis. The event takes place every evening just before sunset and ends with a lot of enthusiasm from the gathered crowd.
2) Know the History at Jallianwala Bagh
The Jallianwala Bagh witnessed a gruesome act where hundreds of innocent people were killed and many got injured. The unarmed locals had gathered in the garden to celebrate the joyous festival of Baisakhi on 13th April 1919, but an open fire by General Dyer forced them to run for their lives.
Since the soldiers blocked the only entrance to the garden, many people jumped into the well to save themselves. A memorial has been built in the garden and the place is open to public. The Martyr’s well and the marks of bullets on the walls still display the suffering and helplessness of the victims.
The best budget hotels in Amritsar
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Hotel Krishna Resi...
R.B. Duni Chand Ro...
Batala Rd, opp. PW
Hotel G.N. Pride
Lawrence Road, nea
Hotel Grand Fortun...
Crystal Chowk, INA...
Hotel Aashirwad In...
JVRR+2CM, Batala R...
Hotel MM Paradise
Langar Hall Gate,
Hotel Raj Darbar
Parag Dass, Galiar
near Golden Temple
Hotel BR Grand
Hotel 56 amritsar
Opposite Gullu Exc
Hotel Amritsar Reg...
Langar Hall, RAM D...
Hotel Narula's Aur...
Narula's Mall, Mal...
3) Shop, Shop, Shop
When in Amritsar, you have got to check out the local markets for authentic Punjabi articles. If you wish to take some part of their culture with you, shop the juttis (Punjabi footwear), phulkari (a type of embroidery from Punjab), jewelry, handicrafts, and much more.
The best markets for shopping in Amritsar are Hall Bazaar, Kapda Bazaar, Lahori Gate Market, Katra Jaimal Singh Bazaar and Shastri Market. The above list is not exhaustive and you can find many more local markets to explore. In addition to street shopping, the city also has many shopping malls that you can go to for branded items.
4) Eat and Repeat
The taste of Punjab is unique and so are its authentic food items, prepared with ghee and lots of spices. A day in any city of Punjab cannot go by without a fulfilling meal and Amritsar is no exception. Golden Temple’s “Kara prasad” and langar in the biggest community kitchen of the Gurudwara top the food list.
The city is known for the famous Amritsari kulcha, Sarson Da Saag and Makke Di Roti, Paranthas and Lassi, but the menu is never ending. Some of the best dhabas and restaurants in Amritsar for Punjabi food are Bhravan Da Dhaba, Friends Dhaba, Kulcha Land and Kesar Da Dhaba.
5) Explore Nature at Harike Wetland
Situated at a distance of about 80 kms from the main city of Amritsar, near Tarn Taran, Harike Wetland is a beautiful site for nature lovers. It is an artificially created wetland built in 1953 and is also called “Hari ke Pattan”. Spread across the cities of Amritsar, Ferozpur and Kapurthala, it is the largest wetland in Northern India.
The site is home to many species of snakes, amphibians and turtles. From October till March, thousands of migratory birds visit the place, making it a must-go spot for bird watchers.
6) Take a Night Tour of the City
There are so many places to visit in Amritsar that you will lose track of time. All the forts, temples, mosques, museums, shopping malls, dhabas and markets will keep you on the move. However, take one evening out of your packed schedule of “sightseeing” and just take a stroll around the city.
It is a historic town during the day, but it turns beautiful at night. The magnificent buildings shining with beads of lights in the late evening hours look splendid. If time allows, visit the Golden temple in the evening once and see the glowing majesty for yourself.
7) Seva at Golden Temple
The Sikhs strongly believe in “Seva”, which means “service”. Their Gurus and teachings have always stressed on serving others and the same happens in any Sikh temple. All the maintenance, cleaning and cooking tasks are done by volunteers free of cost all day.
You can also volunteer at the holy Harmandir Sahib and do some “seva”. Working in the home of God and helping others is a selfless task that satisfies one’s soul. You get no money in return, but the love and blessings you get are invaluable.
8) Take a Bow at Akal Takht
“Akal” means “Timeless” and “takht” refers to “throne”. Hence Akal Takht stands for the “Throne of the Immortal” and is considered the highest one out of the five takhts in Sikhism. Standing inside the premises of the Golden temple, it is the place of the Jathedar (spokesperson of Sikhs). The structure was built by the 6th Guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Singh and was initially called “Akal Bunga”.
It serves as a place of justice for worldly or non-spiritual issues. The building is designed in white marble while the dome is covered in gold leaf. It is built at a lower height than the Golden temple as a token of respect.
9) Find Peace at Ram Tirath Ashram
The Ram Tirath Ashram, also called Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal, is located about 15 kms from the city centre. The site is one of the most sacred places for Hindus and holds an important ground in Hindu mythology. It is believed to be the birthplace of Devi Sita and Lord Ram’s sons, Lav and Kush.
It is also said that Maharishi Valmiki wrote the Ramayana in his ashram here. Although the original ashram exists no more, his old hut can still be seen. The surrounding lake creates a very peaceful and calm atmosphere. An 8 ft tall and 800 kg statue of Sage Valmiki stands in the main temple and enhances its beauty.
10) Witness the Glory of Gobindgarh Fort
Built in 1760s by the Misls, the Gobindgarh fort was initially named “Bhagian da Qila”. Maharaja Ranjit Singh took over the fort and renamed it after the 10th Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh. Changing hands from the Misls to the Maharaja to Britishers and then to the Indian Army, the fort is now under the Government of Punjab and open to public. The buildings and sections within the fort tell stories from different centuries.
At present, the fort hosts many shows and activities that inform us about its history. Sher-e-Punjab, a 7D show, shows the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh; while the museums display many styles of turbans and ancient variety of coins.
Golden temple is the most sacred place for which Amritsar is famous. However, Amritsar’s history and charm extends beyond the Sikh temple. Some places are located within the city and others outside, but they form an integral part of its identity. For a complete trip, explore the listed places and get to know the real Punjab!