Amritsar Travel Guide

amritsar travel guideWhenever I travel, I’m usually the type of person that wants to go somewhere new. I’ve always felt life is too short to keep going back to the same places and doing the same things, but I think the city of Amritsar changed that for me. I fell in love with Amritsar almost instantly, and it felt like home. My family is from a completely different region of Punjab (which I’ve visited before), yet Amritsar somehow felt like the place where I belong.

If you are planning a trip to Punjab, I highly recommend adding Amritsar to your list. Not only because it’s home to the Golden Temple, but because it’s the perfect compilation of Punjabi life, culture, and food, in one city. If you make it no where else in Punjab, you can’t afford to miss Amritsar. 

Since most foreign travellers only get to spend a day or two in each city they visit, I’ve compiled all my favourite experiences and finds in this city guide. We spent two days in Amritsar and I really think that is what you need to fully experience the city, but even if you only have 24 hours you can hit my must see locations; Golden Temple, Tahli Sahib Gurudwara, Jallianwala Bagh, Wagah Border, and at least one meal at Bharawan da Dhaba. Bookmark this guide for your next visit, and let me know if I’ve missed something!

AMRITSAR TRAVEL GUIDE:

Where to Stay: Somehow we never took a picture of our hotel,  however, I highly, highly recommend the Hotel Savera Grand. It was clean, modern, and the staff was amazing. The location was absolutely perfect too – walking distance to Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple), and most of the best bazaars in Amritsar.amritsar punjab travel guidepalki ceremony golden temple, amritsar travel guide

Sites to See: Everyone knows that a trip to Amritsar would be incomplete without visiting the Golden Temple, but, what you may not know is that the best time to visit the temple is amrit-vela. Amrit-vela is the early morning hours when the temple is cleaned & adorned, followed by the palki procession. Every morning the Granth Sahib (holy book) is carried from it’s resting place into the temple in a golden palki (palanquin). 

amritsar travel guide

It was truly the most amazing site to watch the procession, be a part of the spirit of the people, and then just sit and soak up the amazing wonder that is the Golden Temple. We actually walked from the Hotel Savera Grand to Darbar Sahib around 5am and the streets were peaceful and perfectly safe. 

Tahli Sahib Gurudwara: We stumbled onto Tahli Sahib Gurudwara while walking around the city, and I was so overwhelmed by how beautiful and peaceful it is that I completely forgot to take a picture, but I had to share it with you. It is the first Gurudwara that ever had a sarovar (holy tank) and was built by Sri Guru Ram Das Ji. If you are travelling with your kids, you have to take them. jallianwala bhag, amritsar travel guideThe martyrs flame – Jallianwala Baghjallianwala bhag, amritsar travel guide

Jallianwala Bagh: I have heard so many stories about the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh since I was a kid that I was both anxious and honoured to be visiting a site with so much historical significance. Sadly, it’s been turned into a garden park and is more of a hangout spot now than a monument honouring thousands of martyrs in the fight for India’s independence. I still think it’s worth visiting and talking to your kids about, just be prepared for more a park like feeling, than a patriotic experience. amrtisar travel guideamritsar travel guide, wagah border

Wagah Border: Now if you are looking for a patriotic experience – you will find it here! Every evening since 1959 both India and Pakistan have held a ‘retreat ceremony’ at the Wagah Border. There is a parade, theatrics from both sides, singing and dancing, and then both sides pull their flags down and close the gate dividing their countries. This experience was particularly moving for me because my family originates from the Pakistan region pre-partition, and they crossed into India at the Atari border in 1947. {You can read more about my visit to the Wagah Border here}.amritsar city travel guide

Try to book yourself seats ahead of time (there are plenty of guides available outside of Jallianwala Bagh that can do this for you), so you get a good view of the show. Also, if you book a car to take to you to the ceremony, you can stop along the way and get a view of Punjab’s fields and greenery. amritsar travel guide, foodamritsar travel guide, foodamritsar travel guide, food{Traditional Punjabi thali, roadside juice, fresh hot jalebis in desi ghee – so much yum!}

Where to Eat: Amritsar is definitely one of the most famous foodie spots in Punjab and rightfully so! It’s the birthplace of the Amritsari Kulcha (my fave food of all time!), home to Gurdas Ram’s Jalebis, and the world famous Bharawan da Dhaba. I’ve already written at length about the food in Amristar, and you can read all my recommendations here. Still, I have to say; if you can only have one meal in Amritsar, have a thali at Bharawan da Dhaba!amritsar travel guide, foodamritsar travel guideamritsar travel guide

Shopping: I wish I had a lot of recommendations for shopping in Amritsar, but I was so busy eating I didn’t really shop that much! It also didn’t help that we were in the city on the last Sunday of the month when most of the clothing stores are closed. My one wish was to buy a phularki bagh in Amritsar, but sadly, those are really hard to come by these days. I also found the pricing there to be quite similar to Surrey so there was no sense of urgency to buy. 

I did end up buying a lot spices, wadiyan, and food items (surprised?), a couple of pairs of Punjabi jhutiyan, and a bright pink machine sewn phulkari. So it wasn’t a completely loss in the shopping department.

Transportation: So we kind of travelled India the ‘rustic’ way – on railways, auto rickshaws, and by foot, but I thought you might like some tips on transportation. Most likely your hotel will be able to book you a car (with A/C) to any destination you like, or you can book a car for the whole day on a day rate. If you decide to take an auto rickshaw be sure to be firm on where you want to go and a fixed rate before getting into the vehicle. Most rickshaw drivers have commission agreements with restaurants and stores and will take you somewhere that they get a kickback. Just be firm!

If you need any help booking flights into Amritsar or hotels for your stay, you can check connect with Arpit at AK Tour and Travels, his team helped us with all of our bookings and were awesome to work with!

A huge shout out to my friend Aziz Dhamani for all the awesome pics, and also for making sure I didn’t fall out of any bumpy auto rickshaws, and for helping me cross the street, and wandering Amritsar with me in search of spices and phulkaris!

Image Credit: Aziz Dhamani Photography

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2 Comments

  1. Tet
    May 26, 2015 / 7:25 pm

    I love your blog, I want to travel to India but don’t know where to start and how much money do I need. Can you please recommend? I’m coming from Los Angeles, CA.

    • May 28, 2015 / 6:26 am

      Hi Tet! Thanks for stopping by. I’m working on a post with all sorts of recommendations for India, and it will cover how much we budgeted for our travels, it should be live within the next week or two.

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