Amritsar – the name itself carries the meaning of the whole city. Amrit means “the nectar of immortality” and Sar (derived from the word “Sarovar” in Sanskrit) means “Lake”.
Amrit is etymologically related to the Greek word “ambrosia” which means “elixir of life” or ‘immortal’ or “food of the gods”.
Things To Do In Amritsar
Just near the complex of the Golden temple is the Jallianwala Bagh. It is the place of Amritsar Massacre when hundreds of people were gunned down at the garden by the British.
It is a patriotic place for any Indian National, and place of historic importance to anyone. Here there is the wall which still have the bullet marks, which shows the rounds of fire that was used.
There is also the Martyr’s Well where 120 bodies were found after the massacre. There is also a museum, which exhibits the history of Punjab’s freedom struggle.
A few steps from the Jallianwala Bagh, there is the Golden temple complex, with many shops where tourists can take souvenirs from.
It is a perfect mixture of the urban and traditional Punjabi culture. Once you enter the Golden temple complex, you will have to open your shoes and submit it in a counter.
There is the Darbar Sahib complex (the white one) where you can offer your prayers and have the Prasad just outside the temple. Then you can also take a dip in the Amrit Sarovar the lake upon which the Golden Temple floats.
There is water offered at every corner of the complex, so when thirsty just go and pick a bowl of water.
The Harmandir Sahib is the Golden temple where there is a lot of security, and the number of pilgrims regulated, inside it is the famous Guru Grath Sahib (the holy book of Sikhs) which is read throughout the day.
Langar is also served here for thousands of people. You can ask one of the people there to help you guide there and they will happily comply.
Note: There is an important cultural rule you must follow – cover your head before you get inside the temple complex. This to show respect by honoring yourself and the tradition.
Wagah border is 25 km away from Amritsar, and you can leave for Wagah border after visiting the Golden temple.
The taxis there cost 200-300 INR, but if you go in shared autos the cost is much less – 80-100 INR.
It takes 45 minutes to reach the border. But you need to start off early to reach there is time. There is a long waiting in line and checking process which takes place in Wagah.
There is no entry fee here. And the stands here get crowded during weekends and holidays. There are no seats just stands, in summers the stands are pretty hot to sit on.
No purses or water bottles are allowed here, and there is an elaborate security process before you are let in. Also, keep in mind that males and females are separated into two different queues.
There is no network at the border area hence you cannot contact anyone by phone if you get lost. So stick around if you are in a group.
The ceremony starts at 16:45 in summer and 16:15 in winter. And lasts for exactly 45 minutes.
It is a face off between the two countries followed by taking down of flags and closing of the border gates in the evening. There is separate checking of foreigners and a reserved place for them in the stands.
Do bring passports with you for the checking.
What to wear
The only time of the year when you will not be sweating here is winter. But during the other months the sun is not generous.
It is the border area with heat to top it off. Opt for comfy clothes as there will be sweating. Wear sunglasses and hat/caps to protect yourselves from the sun.
Punjabi is the language spoken in Amritsar. It is pretty close to Hindi. If you understand Hindi or Urdu, you should be able to understand basic Punjabi (in a conversation).
You can also choose to learn some basic Punjabi words because it is a very easy to pick up.
Also, knowledge of Hindi, Urdu and as well as English will come handy here.
How to go
Amritsar is a 6-7 hours drive away from the capital city of New Delhi.
There is a railway station in Amritsar, and you can book taxis from there. Do not agree at the price told by the drivers initially try haggling.
There is also the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport here. You can also use Ola/Uber to book taxis here.
Best Time to Visit
The best time of the year is winter, that is from October to December. During the other time of the year it is so hot, that it is unbearable to walk and visit places.
Rupees is the currency of Amritsar, India. And it is good to have cash in hand here. There are ATMs on roadsides, you can use Google maps to spot one near you.
The mobile network gets weak from the Golden Temple to the Wagah border. There is no Wi-Fi region around here. But if you are staying at a hotel then you can have a Wi-Fi connection.
The Sikhs are very serious about their religion and culture. You should follow every rule set by them, like covering the head in temple premises, to opening the shoes, to no smoking or alcohol in the complex area of Golden Temple.
You can ask any Sikh inside the temple about their faith, and they will be happy to inform you. Plus, you can make a friend in them.
The hot climate of Amritsar makes it necessary to drink a cold drink and Lassi is the traditional drink of Punjabis made from yogurt and blended with spices.
It gives you relief from the heat. It is not just the lassi that you need to taste. If you want to have a taste of what typical Punjabi food is, eat at a Dhaba or eat the langar served in the Golden temple.
Taxis, Auto and Ola are the local ways of getting around. But for most who take an Indian trip have hired drivers from the start, so getting around isn’t a problem.
The efficient way is hiring autos. And the police here are corrupt so if you bring a vehicle from outside the state and even though you have the legal documents, they ask for bribe.
So, be prepared and careful.
The roads are wide, and spacious. There is no problem whatsoever with roads. And especially the road from Delhi to Amritsar – it is a joy to ride on it.
There are no entry fees to Jallianwala Bagh, the Golden Temple or the Wagah border.
You can even stay the night at Golden Temple for free, and have the langar. It covers all your costs except the transport.
But it is good to donate something before you leave the temple for the social service they render to humanity.
A day in Amritsar will cost you nothing more than a few hundred rupees.
How many days
The people here are welcoming. If you make a friend and can stay back, then you can learn the culture and people better.
And discover every nook and cranny of the city. The if that is not the case, 1 day is enough to have a look around Amritsar.
How Safe is Amritsar
If you talk about the tourist places like the temple and border, it is safer than any other tourist place in India. There are always security forces in the area.
You will not have to worry because they are keen to help during time of need.
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September 14, 2018 4:04 pm