Amritsar city is located in Punjab state, around 30 kms from India-Pakistani border and is the home to Golden Temple and cruel Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre.
My excitement about travelling in train with confirmed tickets had no bounds as I woke up at 5 am in the morning. I had crashed on bed only at 3 am after a late-night party. I had danced to Punjabi tunes whole night, trying to match steps with my Punjabi friends who I had met for the first time.
Day 1 : 24 hours Amritsar City
That day the morning train was on time, journey was very comfortable and I had no complaints about food that was served. Around 2pm our train slowed down and we knew we had arrived in the golden city Amritsar. I was travelling with my best friend and as we stepped out, like in any other tourist city we were flocked by rickshaw wallas. We agreed to pay 50 inr for a very short ride to our hotel.
Our plan for the first day was to visit Wagah Border to witness Flag Lowering ceremony, head to Golden Temple in the evening and have dinner in langar. (Langar is the term used in the Sikh religion for the common kitchen/canteen where food is served for free to all).
We booked taxi from the hotel and set off quickly to visit the Wagah Border. Click here to read ⇒ My first look at Pakistan and Pakistani Nationals – Wagah Border Ceremony
After returning from Wagah Border we were dropped near Golden Temple at 6.30 pm. We followed the crowd towards what appeared to be the way to the Golden Temple. There were shops on either side buzzing with tourists. It wasn’t long before we came across this beautiful lit white building. We had to leave our shoes, wash our legs, and cover our head with cloth before entering. I covered my head with dupatta. Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to cover, piece of cloth will be provided before you enter which you to have to return while exiting.
In the middle of a pond sits Harminder Sahib known to us as the Golden Temple. I was truly amazed by the beauty and devotion around that place. Surrounding the lake is a walkway where you can walk around and spend as much time as you wish. We didn’t go inside the temple as we wanted to save this for next day. We clicked as many pictures as we wanted and sat on the clean marble floor, admiring the glittering Golden temple, watching the tourists pass by, volunteers doing their duties and some devotees dipping in the holy sarovar (pond). The chants and lights of the temple reflecting on the water drowned me in peace.
Sikh’s believe in treating everyone equally irrespective of their origin or religion. They say the way to serve God is through helping other individuals, this explains a great number of volunteers helping in the temple complex.
In Golden Temple everybody is welcome and food is served 24/7. It is home to the world’s largest free kitchen (Langar). I was told that the menu remains the same every day. Volunteers do all the work like cook, serve, wash utensils and that anyone can volunteer out of their will. I collected plate and bowl while entering Langar. I sat on the floor along with other tourists, old people, devotees and homeless men. Food was served by volunteers to all without any discrimination and I ate till my stomach said ‘No More’. As we stepped out of the dining hall, we could see volunteers of different age groups washing utensils, throwing plates from a basin to another, few were cutting heaps of vegetables and countless chapathi’s being made.
Day 2 : 24 hours Amritsar City
My plan was to have a hearty breakfast and visit the Golden Temple again followed by Jaillainwala Bagh.
We treated ourself with Puri-Aloo and Lassi at Kanha Sweets in the morning for breakfast like the locals do. Twenty minutes rickshaw ride from there brought us to the Golden temple. This part of the city is overfilled with rickshaws and they honk mercilessly. I wouldn’t be lying if I say it was my torturous twenty minutes in the entire Amritsar trip.
Today I was eager to enter the Sikh’s holiest shrine. The four entrances (representing the four directions) to get into the Harmandir Sahib also symbolise the openness of the Sikh’s towards all people and religions. After standing in the queue for over 30 minutes I got to enter Gurudwara. Photography inside is prohibited. It is a two-floored shrine where the painting and art work is very intricate. The ceiling of Harminder Sahib is made with gold and precious stones. I sat inside for good 30 mins engulfed in positivity and the sound of the chants echoes in my mind even today.
Both the sunrise and the sunset are glorious to watch in the premises of the Golden Temple.
Visitors Attractions at Golden Temple
The Central Sikh Museum: The entrance from the plaza side holds a museum on the first floor showcasing the history of the Sikhs.
The Modern Hi-Tech visitor centre: Hi-tech story-telling at the basement of the Golden Temple plaza giving a 3D tour of the Sikh history
We walked to Jallianwala Bagh a relevant place in the history of India which is just 400 meters away from the Golden Temple. If you have studied in India, you will know by now about this barbarous episode in Indian history. A very thought of it gives me a cold shiver.
The Bagh was a large open area of six to seven acres and surrounded by walls roughly 10 feet in height. Balconies of houses three to four stories tall overlooked the Bagh, and five narrow entrances opened onto it, several with locked gates. On 13 April 1919, a crowd of nonviolent protesters had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh to protest peacefully against the devilish provisions of Rowlett Act.
British troops under the command of Colonel General Dyer began shooting at the unarmed protesters killing several hundred people including children and wounding many more who had gathered.
With all gates locked people had no way to escape. To save themselves from the bullets, many jumped into the well inside the Bagh. Over 120 dead bodies were recovered from the well later. This is the monument erected on top of the same well.
The bullet marks remain on the walls and adjoining buildings to this day. The well into which many people jumped and drowned attempting to save themselves from the bullets is also a protected monument inside the park. In remembrance of innocent people and martyrs government of India has built a memorial at this site.
My 24 hours in this iconic city of Amritsar ended when I boarded the Shatabdi Train to my onward journey to Delhi. Like always we were late for our train and we got there in the nick of time.
TRAVEL: We traveled in Train from Delhi to Amritsar. The train journey took 6-7 hours. Other options to reach Amritsar is by bus or to fly.
OVERNIGHT STAY: We Stayed in Hotel Hong Kong inn which I had booked through Booking.com. You can choose to stay near railway station or Golden Temple. You can also avail free basic lodging inside the Golden temple complex.
PLACES VISITED: Golden Temple | Jallianwala Bagh | Wagah Border
ENTRANCE FEE: No entry fee in any of the places I visited.
- Langar (Free food served 24/7 in the temple complex)
- Kanha Sweets (Morning Breakfast and Sweets)
- Hall Bazaar (Try Kulfa a Sweet dish)
- Beera Chicken Corner (Best Chicken Tikka and Tandoor)
- Kulcha Land (Amritsari Kulcha’s and Lassi)
Also read ⇒ Chaotic Charminar & the Magical Golkonda Fort
What I did for the First Time during this Amritsar trip?
- See Pakistani Nationals in Pakistan from India.
- Travelled first time in train with confirmed tickets. (May be I should soon write a post about my many failed yet fun train journeys across India)
- Like they say “Once in a while Travel with your Best Friend”. Apurva and I travelled together from Bangalore. Let me not mention the countless trips we have gone together with groups.