The name of the city derives from the name of the pool around the Golden Temple (aka Harmandir Sahib) and means "holy pool of nectar" (Amrit: elixir; Sar: (short for sarovar) lake). It is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion, and they are rightfully very proud of the city and their very beautiful and unique Gurdwara (place of worship). The Golden Temple was initiated by Guru Ramdaas Ji, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed in 1601 by his successor Guru Arjan Dev Ji. It is now a major pilgrimage and tourism center.
Best time to visit Amritsar is during winter, especially between month of October and March.
Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport (IATA: ATQ)  is about 11 km and a 15–20 minutes drive from the city center. It's one of the modern airports in India and quite adequate if not exactly exciting. Most flights are to Delhi, an hour away, but there are an increasing number of international connections: British Midland International (bmi) flies to London via Almaty , Jet flies to London, Air India flies to Toronto via London and Air Slovakia flies to Bergamo, Barcelona and Birmingham via Bratislava. There are also surprising numbers of flights to Central Asia (e.g. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan). Qatar Airways now flies to Doha.
Taxi drivers wait outside the arrivals gate for visitors. For a trip into town, even the prepaid taxi can be bargained down with the drivers to 300 from initially ridiculous prices of 550 rupees a person (as of March 2014) before you pay, but there is a significant dearth of official taxis or even auto-rickshaws, so prepare for a hard time. Also, be aware that if you are staying near the Golden Temple, there is a zone around it which prohibits automotive vehicles. Though not stringently applied, the streets do get very narrow, and you will probably end up making the last ten minutes of the trip on foot.
Amritsar (IR station code : ASR) is an important railway station and is well connected to major cities in India through daily trains. Trains can be booked online , at the train station or, most conveniently, at the small booking office in the Golden Temple Complex.
Here are some useful trains to get to Amritsar:
|Train Number||Train Name||You may board at||You may alight at|
|12013||Shatabdi Express||New Delhi||Amritsar|
|12029||Shatabdi Express||New Delhi||Amritsar|
|12497||Shan-e-Punjab Express||New Delhi||Amritsar|
|12903||Golden Temple Mail||Mumbai Central, Nizamuddin (Delhi)||Amritsar|
|12925||Paschim Express||Bandra Terminus (Mumbai), New Delhi||Amritsar|
|12317||Akal Takht Express||Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Patna||Amritsar|
|13005||Howrah-Amritsar Mail||Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Lucknow, Patna||Amritsar|
|12053||Jan Shatabdi Express||Haridwar||Amritsar|
It's advisable to book your return train ticket as soon as you arrive in Amritsar, or before if you know the exact date, as trains are often heavily booked.
Also see Rail travel in India
Long-distance taxis are available from most places. It takes around 6–7 hours from New Delhi via NH-1.
Amritsar is well-connected by bus to most major cities and the northern areas within a days drive. Pathankot is about 2.5 hours away and about 100 km away, JALANDHAR is about 80 km from here, KAPURTHALA (royal city) is about 65 km from here and there are daily direct buses to New Delhi, Jammu, Katra, Chandigarh, Dharamsala (once daily, ~6 hours), etc.You can find Volvo buses from Chandigarh, Delhi and Katra to Amritsar.
Taxis also use this route and charge around Rs 200 for the entire vehicle.
- An auto-rickshaw from the train station to the temple should cost around Rs 20, while a cycle-rickshaw will run about Rs 30.
- There is a free bus service from the train station to the golden temple run by Golden Temple trust. It drops you right at the accommodation booking office of the Golden Temple where you can get double bed room for Rs. 1000 per day.
If you have your own car to get around Amritsar then simply confirm the directions with a local guide. In case you don't have your own car then there are several travel agencies which can offer you car of your choice.
Renting a car is less time consuming and affordable as well. Experience car drivers know all the shortcuts within city and get you to the best hotel or restaurant. Never pay entire money to car agent in advance and don't leave expensive luggage in your car whenever you are visiting any site.
The Golden Temple is the main attraction in the city, and the most important religious place to the Sikhs. It's a stunning complex, and always full of thousands of pilgrims from all over India, excited to be at a place that they usually only see on television. The excitement to be here is infectious, and many people will be more than happy to tell you all about their religion and customs, and show you around the temple itself, just wander around one of the most amazing places in India! The complex is open almost 24 hours (from 6 AM until 2 AM) and is worth visiting twice: once during the day, once at night, when it's beautifully lit up.
As you arrive near the complex, you will more likely than not be accosted by hawkers trying to sell you bandannas to cover your head. It's not a bad souvenir for Rs.10, but there's also a big barrel of free ones to choose from at the entrance itself.
- "Ghanta Ghar". This is the main entrance, sporting a distinctly Victorian clock-tower. Wash your feet in the water at the entrance in order to keep the temple clean.
- Amrit Sarovar. The giant pool of water that surrounds and reflects the Golden Temple. Sections (marked off by ropes) are set aside for (male) pilgrims wishing to bathe.
- Harmandir Sahib. This is the Golden Temple itself, floating above the Amrit Sarovar, housing the sacred Adi Granth scripture which is recited out loud during the day. This is the most crowded point, accessible by a bridge from the edge of the pool, and entry here is regulated by traditionally dressed Sikh guards. It's a 2 story structure where Sikh saints are seated on each floor.
- Akal Takht, directly opposite the Harmandir Sahib. Meaning "The Timeless", this is where the highest council of Sikhs sits and deliberates. At night, the Guru Granth Sahib is taken to the Akal Takht.
- Central Sikh Museum, 2nd floor (entrance on the right side of the main side of the main entrance). Devoted to large gallery of paintings, mostly showing the gruesome ways countless Sikhs have been martyred, and various items from the gurus. Free.
All Sikhs are encouraged in their lives to do volunteer services at any gurdwara or in the greater society, and everyone you see working here is fulfilling that duty. It's likely possible that you can join in if you feel so inclined - you could enquire by asking the people outside peeling vegetables, or those washing dishes.
- Jallianwala Bagh (Garden) is a short 5-minute walk from the Golden Temple, and is the site of the 1919 Amritsar massacre. On April 13 of that year, British Indian Army soldiers opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. The firing lasted about 10 minutes and 1650 rounds were fired, killing 1579 people. A memorial was built on the site and inaugurated by the then-President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on 13 April 1961. to this day the bullet holes can be seen on the walls and adjoining buildings. The well into which many people jumped and drowned attempting to save themselves from the hail of bullets is also a protected monument inside the park.
- Mata Temple is a labyrinthine like Hindu cave temple devoted to the female saint Lal Devi. Traditionally, women wishing to become pregnant come here to pray. The roundabout path to the main temple passes through low tunnels, caves full of ankle-deep water, inclined walkways, and mirrored hallways that make the experience seem more like a fun house than a place of worship. The colors, wide variety of deities, and elaborate mirrored image make this a psychedelically unique temple. Highly recommended! This is called Sheesh Mahal, and some people also seem to call it "Lal Dev."
- Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is in the Ram Bagh park. Now the palace houses a museum, exhibiting oil paintings, miniatures, coins and weapons from the Sikh period. In this park is the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, so ask, if you are at the right museum.
- Ram Tirth is a short distance of 11 km outside the city. Consecrated by the appearance of Devi Sita, Ram Tirth had been a witness to the birth of the sons of King Rama. Making a special place in the holy scripts of ancient religions, the place was once the ashrama of saint Balmiki. The saint is believed to have scripted many of his sacred manuscripts at this place. A hut of Rishi Balmiki is still found at Ram Tirth where he once lived. After giving birth to Luv and Kush, Devi Sita used to stay at this place for a considerable period of time. The evidence of her stay still exists in the form a well which, it is believed, was dug by Hanuman. Devotees of King Rama and Devi Sita flock to this place every year to offer their prayers to the respected deities. As the locational position of the Ram Tirth is facilitated by easy accessibility, hence, the visitors conveniently reach this place of worship without any extra hassles.
- Ram Tirath, Amritsar. It is a place where Love and Kush, the sons of Lord Rama and Sita were born.
- Amritsar Heritage Walk. Despite visiting Amritsar and Golden temple several times, visitors find Heritage Walk experience extremely enjoyable and informative.
- Old City Shopping. As you move through narrow path of old city and some other heritage buildings, you can see stalls selling everything from jootis to roasted sweet potatoes.
- Wagah Border. While in Amritsar, you should visit Wagah Border. Hotel or travel agents will give you every detail but if you are foreign visitor then carry passport to avail sit in area reserved for foreigners.
- The Golden Temple has a massive library where tourists/visitors can get books on Sikhism for free or at very little cost.
- Almost every Sikh at the temple will be willing to talk to you about the temple and their religion and culture. Go there with an open mind and you'll leave with a smiling heart.
- Sikh symbols and religious paraphernalia like khandas, Karas (Sikh relegious bangle), swords, daggers etc. from the shops close to the Golden Temple.
- CDs of temple recordings, chants, and Punjabi music in the shops along the front of the temple.
- Punjabi Juttis (shoes) from the tiny shops near the Hall Bazaar flyover.
- Warian (spicy pulses ground with spices) from Hall Bazaar
- Phulkaari is a form of embroidery from the state of Punjab in India and certain parts of Pakistan which literally means “flower making”. Brightly colored shawls to sarees to head scarves to salwar-kameez of phulkaari can be found in Hall Bazar and Kapra market. Hand-embroidered ones would be more expensive and are still very much in demand for festivals and other joyous occasions. Bargain your heart out, especially in Kapra market as it’s a whole-sale market for clothes.
- Clock tower (since 1930) (Balmukand Kailash nath), new misri bazar, near golden temple (2-3 mins walk from golden temple), ☎ .
- The Golden Temple has a dining hall (langar) serving free basic meals to all... A definite must for visitors. Plates and spoons are handed out near the entrance, then follow the crowds inside and take the next vacant spot in one of the rows on the floor. Servers come by with large buckets of dal, chapatis and rice. Make sure to finish everything on your plate (wasting food isn't an option here!) then take it outside to volunteers at the washing area. It's inside the complex which means no shoes and cover your head. At the exit, there is a donation box, in case you want to voluntarily donate for the cause of free meals.
- The Brothers or Bharavan the Dhaba, is near the Golden Temple and serves traditional food or Chinese, continental at affordable prices. However, the food and service takes a plunge during peak times like weekends.
- Bubby Dhaba, opposite Golden Temple (Just opposite the main entrance of Golden Temple). serves authentic Punjabi food at a very reasonable cost and ideally located, just few metres from the main entrance of the Holy Golden Temple
- Charming Chicken, Opp. Nari Niketan, Majitha Road (From bus stand direct auto service available), ☎ . 17:00-23:00. Established in 1958. Very popular family restaurant, particularly for butter chicken with naan. No alcohol is permitted. 4£.
- Country Inn & Suites, around the corner of Bhandari Bridge serves up great Indian, Italian, Continental and Chinese food.
- Kesar da Dhaba. Located near the Golden Temple, it offers good Punjabi food made in pure ghee. Daal Makhni is worth trying. Don't forget to try a glass of Lassi after a heavy meal.
- Moolchand Fish Shop, Off of GT Road near Tourist Guesthouse. Find the Christchurch Cathedral (large red-and-green church, pretty conspicuous!) and keep walking, away from GT road. In about 2 minutes, you'll see a little shop selling fish. Open 8 am to 11 pm. This tiny place is the definition of hole-in-the wall. If it looks like it has been there for 50 years, it's because it has! They'll weigh out your fish based on how much you want to pay, fry it, put some delicious spices on it, and serve it with spicy green chutney and raw onions. A little hard to find, but worth it. About 50 rupees for a good-sized piece of fish, 70 rupees for a serving of chicken.
- My Kind of Place offers fast food such as pizza, burgers, and chips. It offers Chinese & Continental food also.
- New Punjabi Rasoi, around the corner from the temple it's one of the most popular restaurants in town and serves up great Indian food including tasty masala dosas. Meals ~Rs 40-60.
- Neelam's, a few doors down from New Punjabi Rasoi, offers pizza and other basics. Meals from Rs 30.
- Pizza Hut, Yes, the American chain. about a 30 - 50 Rs Auto-Rickshaw ride from the golden temple. Most auto-rickshaw drivers know where it is, or can get directions. Good if your stomach needs a western meal for a change. Comes with customer service that one would expect in a four-star restaurant in the west.
There are very few decent non-veg eateries near the temple complex.
Lassi is a popular and traditional yogurt-based drink which originates in the Punjab region. It is made by blending yogurt with water and Indian spices. Traditional lassi (also known as salted lassi, or, simply lassi) is a savory drink sometimes flavored with ground roasted cumin while sweet lassi on the other hand is blended with sugar or fruits instead of spices.
Bars & Lounge
- Bar One, Comfort Inn GSK Hotel Amritsar, 110, Albert Road.
- Nimos Restaurant and Bar, Green Avenue, Amritsar.
- Empire Lounge, Welcom heritage Ranjits Svaasa, 47a, Mall Road Area.
- Glassy Junction at Surya Residency, Dist. Shopping Complex Ranjit Avenue.
- The Golden Temple offers free accommodation to pilgrims and tourists in very basic dorms or 3-bed rooms in Guru Ram Das Niwas, behind the temple. While free, donations are expected (Rs 50-100 minimum per person per night is appropriate). You should also remain quiet and respectful of the surroundings, keeping in mind that this is a holy place of pilgrimage more than a tourist attraction. Alcohol and smoking are strictly forbidden, not only within the temple complex but anywhere within sight of the temple complex. If you can handle that, then this is arguably the best place to stay - watching people go about their routine, talking to the pilgrims, and absorbing the gorgeous atmosphere. Put your donations in the donation box near the entrance to Ram Das Niwas, as opposed to the guards who will ask you for it when checking out.
- Hotel Sita Continental, Sheran Wala Gate, Ph +91-183-5002840 is 10 minutes walk from Golden Temple. Its basic, new and clean. Rates for double bed-room vary between Rs. 550-650.
- Tourist Guesthouse, 1355 GT Road. A popular backpackers choice near the railway station. Rates for double bedroom Rs. 250-400. A very nice place with a decent restaurant and friendly owners. About 25 minutes walking distance to the Golden Temple.
- Hotel Sita Niwas (Right near the eastern corner of the golden temple. There is now a new Hotel Sita Newas next door offering rooms from Rs 1000, so ask where the other one is if the price seems high.). Check-out: Midday. Good and relatively cheap (Rs 80) food in their restaurant. They also organise shared jeeps to the Atari border crossing for Rs 250 return. Rs 300.
- Hotel le golden very near golden temple having view of golden temple from room & restaurant. Rs.1550 to 5250.
- Hotel 42 Amritsar, The Mall. Newly Built Luxury Hotel on Mall Road, Amritsar near Golden Temple.
- Hotel Sapphire. Hotel near Golden Temple having view of Golden Temple from Hotel Rooms. Rs 1250.
- Hotel CJ International. 91-183-254 3478,09876444000. A newer hotel just Opp. Golden Temple and with views of the Golden Temple. Rs 1200. Also now they have beautiful splurge higher end rooms beautifully designed & created. Rs. 2000. Wifi enabled lobby & restaurant.
- Hotel Heritage Inn, ☎ . Next to Golden Temple. Rooms are well furnished and decorated. Rs.1350.
- Royal Castle A nice hotel located in the city about 15 min from the Golden Temple. Though they claim to be a 3 star hotel 2 is more like it. They have decent rooms for around Rs 2,100 a night.
- Hotel City Heart. Hotel near golden temple and jallian wala bagh. Offers views of Golden Temple and the city. Rs 800-1550.
- Hotel Indus. Hotel right opposite to Golden Temple. Offers direct views of Golden Temple and the city. Rs 1450-1650.
- Hotel Sarovar Plaza, ☎ 0183-2535354-5. Bazar Maisewan near Golden Temple, Very neat and clean rooms, 24hrs room service and panaromic view of Golden Temple Rs. 1000-2850.
- Green Acres Haveli, ☎ . 5 Minutes from the airport. Set amongst fruit orchards and lush greenery this diamond category farmstay lets guests experience rich Punjabi culture and heritage charm. Recently restored, offers all modern conveniences and provides easy access to Amritsar attractions. Room packages range from Rs 3000 to 6000 (inclusive of meals).
- Ista Amritsar, MBM Farms, G.T. Road (adjoins Alpha One City Center), +91 183-2708888, . 5 star hotel with a contemporary design, two restaurants, lounge and spa. Rooms starting at Rs 5000.
- Hotel P.R. Residency, 4 km from Railway Station, Ranjit Avenue +91-98141-76567, 2502666. Located in the most porsh area, it has undoubtedly the best rooms and view in the town. Along with the most modern equipped suites, it is a great local favourite for dining for its hospitality n memorable stay. Don't forget to try out Golden Fried Chicken and continental cuisine. Rooms starting at 2000 to 4000 for suites.
- Ranjit’s Svaasa. 47-A The Mall (opposite the Ebony Mall, down a little side street). The only boutique hotel in town, and a comparative oasis of calm in an otherwise hectic city. Ranjit's is set in an old colonial house, and has been nicely refurbished with understated style - the place looks at its best at night. There is also a spa and small restaurant attached. Must be Amritsar's most expensive hotel with rooms starting at around Rs.5,000 per night.
- Grand Legacy. 8 G.T. Road (near railway station), tel. +91-183-5069991. Claims to be Amritsar's best hotel and the public areas look nice enough, but the rooms (and especially the bathrooms) don't quite pull it off. Avoid the restaurant downstairs, or face amoebic dysentery. Single/double from Rs. 2000/3150 per night.
- Ritz Plaza. 45 The Mall, 256 2836. A more classy hotel also located in the city with good rooms and service and a swimming pool. Price starts at approx Rs 2,500 a night.
- MK Hotel. Ranjit Ave, 250 7911. Slightly out of town, but a nicer more upmarket option with great service. Doubles from Rs 3000, suites available.
- Hotel AJ Regency. Small but comfortable air-conditioned rooms. About RS. 700/night.
- Hotel Swarn House . This 3 Star hotel is a heavenly abode for tourists coming in from all walks of life to visit the Golden Temple, which is just a walk away. It offers super deluxe and deluxe rooms to stay. Guests are served a delicious spread, comprising Mughlai, Continental, Chinese, and Italian and Punjabi specialties. Corporate travelers are also offered a spacious banquet space, which is ideal place to conduct weddings, prayer meetings and business conferences.
- Country Inns and Suites By Carlson. Queens Road, Amritsar. Tel no. +91 1835050555.( A four star hotel with rates starting INR3000 for double rooms. Better rates online. Free Wireless and breakfast. 1.5 kms to Golden temple and less than a km to the train station. Very clean and hospitable staff.
- The sectarian strife of the 1980s is just a bad memory and Amritsar is currently a safe and welcoming city, if a little polluted.
- Don't leave cash or any valuables in the hotel room. Cross check all hotel, restaurant and lounges bills for errors.
- Never pay anyone for anything upfront, including taxi drivers.
- Do not exchange the currency/money in black market. Ask for receipt when exchanging money at any authorized currency exchange center.
- You should remain aware and respectful of the Sikh religion anywhere near the Golden Temple complex.
- Inside the complex both men and women are required to cover their heads (scarves are widely available throughout the town for Rs 10, or a box of them are free to use at the entrances to the temple).
- Every visitor is required to remove shoes and socks and wash his/her feet before entering the temple. You can store your shoes at the subterranean building to the left of the entrance.
- Smoking and alcohol are forbidden within the complex and anywhere within sight of the temple. Lighting up a cigarette on the busy street out front will definitely attract negative attention, as will spitting near the temple.
- Photography is allowed on the outside ring of the holy lake, but not inside the actual temple itself.
There are quite a few good internet surfing facilities in Amritsar. Reliance WebWorld and Sify Internet kiosks are located at strategic locations.
- Cyber Swing, (above New Punjabi Rasoi restaurant), has several machines and a decent connection. Rs 40/hour.
- Cyber Pub, Opposite District Courts on Airport Road. Scanner and printer available.
- Visit the Pakistan border at Wagah to see the border closing ceremony. Indian and Pakistani soldiers do a march-off every evening, a popular and fun event. Cameras are allowed, but do not bring ANY bags, they are not allowed in and there are no clocking facilities.
- Once you reach there around 4:00 PM, you will join a crowd of thousands of people who have also come for a glimpse of the ceremony. Before the actual event, you need to stand in a not so organized crowd (don't bother queuing) in the heat and dust for around 2 hours and then one hour before the ceremony, get let in to fight your way from one checkpost to another. Keep to the left side and follow the signs to the VIP area once you see the grandstands. There are no sheds, so it gets pretty hot and sweaty unless you go in the winters. Be prepared for that. Not everyone can manage it.
- If you have a small baby with you, please think twice before visiting. Security at the border is very high - you'll be searched twice and water and cigarettes confiscated. When you're let in, there are separate queues for men and women, and Indian women are kept separate for the women section. Foreigners of both sexes are kept together in the same area after going through the separated security lines.
- Taxis leave from the backside of the Golden Temple. It's a 45 minute ride, and you should leave Amritsar by around 3:30PM. There are basically two options for getting there one is to hire a taxi/autorikshaw or go in a pool in taxi, charges would be a minimum Rs 350 for hiring an auto, the cheaper option would be to go for a shared taxi costs about 80-100 rupees per person. Make sure you check the vehicle before paying, offer a deposit and ask if you can pay the rest on your return.
- They now have a reserved section for foreign tourists so make sure you bring your passport with you so that you can skip the line and get the best seats available. Also remember not to bring any bags with you because you will not be allowed in with them. Cameras are allowed.