Sat Sri Akaal! Namaste from Punjab! 🙂 Welcome to one of the chaotic cities in India where you will find positive vibes and an abundance of peace. Oops, some mismatches…haha…Well, there’s a city in India – AMRITSAR which is a blend of all – some of the best things about the city are – there’s so much spirituality, history, welcoming people, peace despite the chaos, and sumptuous delicacies for one and all. And my experiences in this unique city in a day made me endlessly fall in love with it.
Here’s my quick guide to all the must-do and the best things in Amritsar if you have just one day –
GOLDEN TEMPLE (House of God) – ‘The Holiest Place Of Worship For Sikhs In The World’
No Entry Fees
Open throughout the year: 24*7
Visiting Duration: 2-3 hours
The sight of the Golden Temple at night is just so pleasing and mesmerizing. It was really hard for me to take off my eyes from this beauty!
The temple is so welcoming that there is absolutely no caste, creed, race biasing to enter the temple. Before entering the temple, one can see thousands of people providing services for nothing – yes for nothing and they do it wholeheartedly for everyone.
Everything here is done as Seva (selfless service) – Be it keeping shoes in the racks, cleaning up the temple, preparing and serving food for free, or washing utensils. They believe man service is service to God.
It was really hard for me to believe that this massive temple is covered with real gold (24-carat gold). I met a few foreign tourists there who could not stop admiring its beauty. They poured their heart saying that they haven’t seen anything like it ever before. Even I would say the same. I’m short of words to explain how beautiful this place is and how blissful I was!
Continuous chants, 24*7 langar, cleaning of the temple, pilgrims taking holy bath in the sacred man-made lake can be seen at any hour of the day. Even at 10 PM, I had to stand in the queue for an hour to enter the temple. After visiting the temple, I went to taste the langar there. No matter what time you go to taste the langar, the place is always full. It is also a religious belief to serve food for free and is a part of Seva.
The next day I went in the morning and the temple yet gave very different and beautiful views.
After spending some time here, I headed to the Jallianwala Bagh which is at walking distance from the temple.
JALLIANWALA BAGH- The Place Which Left Me Teary Eyes
No Entry Fees
Timings: 6:30 AM – 7:30 PM (Opens Daily)
Visiting Duration: 1-2 hours
It has an important place in Indian history. I had studied about it in school but after visiting this place, my heart sank knowing the history better. I was deeply saddened to read the posters, imagining the situation of those 1600+ helpless, poor souls who were brutally killed in the firing. Thousands of Sikhs including men, women, and children were put to death when they had gathered here to celebrate Punjabi’s New Year Festival (Baishaki).
After coming back, I watched this video (click on the link) on Jallianwala Bagh which was shown in the Gandhi movie to know about the incident better.
This is the wall from where people trying to escape the place were shot. The bullet marks inside the white box on the wall have been preserved to date.
In the hustle and bustle, some people jumped into the well to escape the horrific firing. The well has been made inside the building now and is known as the ‘Martyr’s Well’. There is also an eternal flame burning at the entrance in honor of the martyrs. It was the most violent and bloody massacre in Indian history by the British.
PARTITION MUSEUM- An Emotional Journey of Indo-Pak Partition
Entry Fees: 10 INR
Timings: 10 AM – 6 PM (Monday Closed)
Visiting Duration: 1-2 hours
The museum is built in Amritsar because of its proximity to the Indo-Pak border and because it suffered the most during partition. The museum shows the ugly side of the partition and how it displaced and impacted the lives of 14 million people.
It shows how many people had to leave their homes and had to stay in refugee camps, how families were split during the migration. How during this time ample people died because of starvation, sheer exhaustion, and how thousands of children and women were abducted, raped, and murdered.
The sufferings that people have experienced during the partition cannot be described in words. Each picture, poster, newspaper clippings, audio there has a story to tell, a heart-wrenching story. It’s really sad to know how much suffering it had brought to the people.
But at the end of the museum, there’s a ‘Gallery of Hope’. It displays the courage and grit of people who overcame the hurdles, rebuilt their lives, and achieved success.
It tells the story of an Indian Olympian Milkha Singh whose family was killed before his eyes during the partition. Despite the loss, he made it to the Olympics in 1960 and earned the title “Flying Sikh” through his continuous determination and dedication.
It also tells the awe-inspiring story of MDH spices owner, who had to move to India from Pakistan. It shows how he had faced many hardships and struggles. The life of a refugee wasn’t an easy one. But today MDH is a multi-billion company and its spices hold a special place in every Indian kitchen.
P.S.: Photography isn’t allowed inside the museum.
SHREE DURGIANA TIRTH TEMPLE
No Entry Fees
Timings: 6 AM – 10 PM (Daily)
Visiting Duration: 10 – 30 mins
The temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, also known as the Shitla Temple. The temple is sometimes also called the ‘Silver Temple’ because of its beautifully designed silver gates. It’s an eminent temple for Hindus in Amritsar.
Although, it is a Hindu temple but is a little replica of the Golden temple. The temple is only about 2 km from the Golden temple. I would have walked this much distance but it was super hot in the afternoon and I chose to take a tanga.
I then headed to taste some authentic Amritsari and Punjabi food at the oldest and one of the most famous Dhaba in Amritsar.
KESAR DA DHABA– The Oldest Dhaba In Amritsar (102 Years Old Dhaba)
Timings : 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM (Daily)
Average Cost per person: 100-200 INR pp
It is one of the most famous Dhaba in Amritsar and has served the same taste and quality food for more than a century. Yes, this is among the oldest one which started even before India’s independence. When in Amritsar one must not miss having food at a Dhaba, there is absolutely nothing like eating at a Dhaba.
I seriously don’t remember when I had this much tasty food and this much heavy too. The food and lassi tasted divine here, but I was so much satiated that I could not even drink the whole big glass of Lassi.
This place is too reasonable despite the heavenly taste that this Dhaba offers. But then I realized I am in Amritsar where most of the things are free or are at a very low-cost. 😀
After having lunch, it was time to go to watch the Wagah Border Ceremony.
WAGAH BORDER – India-Pakistan (INDO-PAK) Border
No Entry Fees
Parade Timings: 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM (Daily)
Shared Auto Price (Amritsar – Wagha Border – Amritsar): 100 INR
Visiting Duration: 2-3 hours
It is the only border where India and Pakistan open up their gates and it also serves as the international checkpoint between the two countries. But even after 70 years of Independence and partition, both countries still fight over disputed borders and have been in eternal conflicts.
But at this border, there’s a daily ritual of lowering the flags on both sides before the sunset. People from different nations, states, cities gather here to see the ‘Beating Retreat Ceremony’.
I took a shared auto to reach the border which is 30 km from Amritsar city. I reached there well on time and got a good place to see the ceremony. It is necessary to reach there early as the place gets too much crowded. Everyone has to walk 1 km and go through a stringent security check before entering the stadium. Also, due to security reasons, cellphone signals have been blocked in that vicinity.
Even before the ceremony started there were loud shouts of slogans, patriotic songs were playing around, people were waving their national flag high on both sides. The energy was already extremely high.
After an hour, a parade by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistani Rangers started. The competitive cheering between the two nations got louder with each shout on both sides.
Firstly, commandos marched towards the gate followed by Indian women soldiers perfectly marching and swinging their arms. Border Security Forces and Pakistani Rangers then came marching towards the gate. The atmosphere turned electrifying. People on both sides started cheering as loud as possible to encourage their soldiers.
The soldiers on both sides showed aggression, offered sharp salutes followed by high kicks that they nearly brought to their forehead between the gates.
After an hour of parade and cheering, the ceremony came to an end with soldiers from each side standing off and shaking hands. Finally, both BSF and Pakistani Rangers lowered their respective flags simultaneously. The gates were then closed, marking an end of the ceremony.
The ceremony left a permanent mark on me. I haven’t experienced anything so very unique in real. It gave me such a patriotic feeling and another perspective of India – one that exhibits incredible strength!
Despite being a little out of the way when compared to the other destinations in India, this city has left a different impression on me. In a day, I got attached to this welcoming, friendly city, and I will certainly come back soon here.
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Thank you! ♥