The Epicentre Of Sikh Culture
Amritsar is at the epicentre of the Sikh faith, for it is home to the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines. For Sikhs it is both a place where Punjab's wealth is on full display, as well as an important pilgrimage. But it is not only Sikhs who come here. People from all faiths come to the Golden Temple, a tribute to the syncretist traditions of a faith whose holy book is a compilation of the writings of men of different faiths. Outside the sacred precincts of the Golden Temple, you can enjoy this chaotic city while you gorge on Punjabi specialities like makki ki roti, sarson da saag and gur da halwa. It won't take you long to discover that food is an obsession for the locals, and it is rumoured that more desi ghee is consumed here than anywhere else in the world.
Best time to visit Amritsar is in Winters that is between October to March.
The Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das, founded Amritsar, meaning 'a pool of nectar'. It has grown from a sacred village pond into a spiritual temporal centre of Sikh culture. Amritsar is the soul of Punjab and today it is Indias important distribution centre of dry-fruits. It is one of the most ancient and fascinating cities of India. It is also the city where Jallianwala Bagh, the garden where scores of innocent Indian people were massacred by the British. Amritsar is an institution by itself.
Golden Temple Har Mandir Saheb, popularly known, as the Golden temple is the holiest shrine for the Sikhs, so called because the entire upper half was inlaid with copper covered over by gold plate. The architecture of the Golden Temple, is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles.
Mata Mandir temple
A grand old pious lady developed this Hindu temple situated at Rani ka Bagh , on the lines of holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi at Katra(Jammu),the temple draws crowds of devotees from far and near. Festivals are celebrated with great pomp and show. An evening visit to the temple gives an opportunity to the visitors to observe the life styles of Hindu families.
Ram Tirath temple
On the outskirts of Amritsar is this significant historic birthplace of Lav and Kush. It is the spot where sage Valmiki's ashram stood and this is a sacred place for the Hindus where we get a glimpse of statues illustrating scenes from the Ramayana.
Tarn Taranp style="padding:0; margin:0 0 4px 0; text-align:justify;" class="nrmlfonts">It is an important Sikh tank located about 25 kms. south of Amritsar, said to have healing properties and a corrective effect on minor skin ailments. Though the Parikrama around the still waters of the tank takes much longer, it is built along the same lines as the Golden Temple.
The final frontier, Wagah about 28 kms. from Amritsar is the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. Its an interesting experience especially at sunset when the 'Retreat' ceremony takes place with the BSF on the Indian Side of the Border. The changing of the guards and the ceremonial lowering of the flags ceremony is carried out with great pomp.
Majaar Baba Sheikh Braham
The only place in India where Pakistani citizens are allowed to make an annual visit (unofficial) without a visa. Baba Sheikh Brahamji's Majar(tomb) is situated in the Mian Wala village (Tehsil Khemkaran district Amritsar). A big fair is organised towards the end of the monsoons when people from both sides of the border pay their respects at the Majar. It is believed that any wish made at this place is always fulfilled.
Pul Kanjari a small village on the Amritsar-Lahore road, was once an important trading centre during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He used to stop over for a few days when travelling between Lahore and Amritsar, where a dancer named Moran performed for him regularly. It is said that one day when crossing the canal one of her shoes fell into the water which vexed her a great deal. On her insistence the Maharaja then built a pul (bridge) over the canal.
The village was captured during the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. In 1971 the Sikh Regiment recaptured it the next day after some fierce fighting. There is a memorial built in memory of the jawans who lost their lives in the 1971 war.
Amritsar is an important production centre for woollen products, so you can pick up some really inexpensive sweaters, shawls and woollen blankets here. It is also an important tea-trading centre. Green tea is exported to Afghanistan while dry fruits are imported from there.
Still famous for its intricately-designed gold ornaments, it was frequented by British ladies in the past. The city was also a favourite spot for chess pieces, which were carved from ivory and exported to Britain. Chess pieces are now made from sandalwood and rosewood.
Katra Jaimal Singh, near the telephone exchange in the old city, is a great place to shop.
Golden Temple Bazaar
The bazaar in front of the main entrance to the Golden Temple carries a huge selection of merchandise - from Sikh daggers to swords and karas (steel bangles). Make sure the karas you buy are made of stainless steel, a fake kara will erode in a few months.
Every lane south and west of the Golden Temple specialises in a particular product or craft.
Amritsar has extreme climate with very hot summers and very cold winters.
Summer - Max: 34°C Min: 15°C
Winter - Max: 18°C Min: 0°C
Fairs & Festivals
Baisakhi marks the Hindu New Year. And for Sikhs, the day when Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and last Guru, organised the Sikhs into the order of the Khalsa (the pure ones). It is a day of great jubilation when the vigorous Bhangra dance is performed in celebration.
Guru Nanak Jayanti
The birth anniversaries of the 10 gurus are considered holy days and Guru Nanak Jayanti (October/November) and Guru Gobind Singh's (December/January) birthdays are celebrated as important festivals.
HOW TO REACH
AIR : Amritsar is connected by air with Delhi and Shrinagar.
RAIL : Amritsar is connected by rail with Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Varanasi, Wagah (Attari Border) and some other places in India.