The decision to do a Weekend Trip to Amritsar was a quick one. There were no second thoughts. I read about it when I was in school and I wanted to see the Golden temple ever since. But most of us don’t plan a trip to a city for a weekend to visit just one location. And so I did what everyone else would do, Google: Things to do in Amritsar. The results looked something like this.
What you’re looking at is what I call the Problem of Plenty. There are too many lists and that is too confusing for us to decide. Nevertheless, a job is a job, so I ran through site after site for hours and hours to finally build an itinerary that will fulfil the desire to explore the beauty, mystery and gastronomy of the holy city Amritsar.
But as James Cash Penny said “Theory is splendid but until you put it in practice, it’s valueless”. We needed to know if the itinerary was good enough. We learnt what is good and what isn’t. From our first hand experience, here are exactly the things you should do in Amritsar.
Where to Stay:
Stay close to the Golden temple. You will be tempted to visit Harmandir Sahib at night, thanks to the scenic and serene beauty of the complex. It is as beautiful if not more in the night as it is in the morning. You can stay there till late night and walk back to the hotel to sleep. If your hotel is far, the walk in the middle of the night can be tiring.
We did a painstaking walk around town looking for hotels that would suit us and the roamers who were travelling with us.While all hotel rates range from 700-1500 INR per night, some are really worth every penny you spend on. All hotels look similar and offer the same services.
We have partnered with a hotel just one minute away from The Golden Temple, if you wish to know more or get discounts at the hotel, just drop a message to us.
What to see:
Check in, refresh and head out to explore Amritsar. There are many things to see in Amritsar. Here’s what we did and it should work for you too:
1. The Golden Temple:
When to Visit: Anytime. However at 9:30 PM in the night or 5:30 AM in the morning allows to witness the palkhi ceremony where the Granth is wrapped carefully from the temple and brought back to the Akhal Takth.
How to reach: Walk. There are multiple entrances to the temple complex and no matter where you stay (unless it’s the hotel at airport) you can walk to the temple easily.
Entry Fee: Free
The crown jewel of Amritsar, Golden temple is a must see. Not once, not twice but all the time you have free, go and sit inside the complex for a peaceful time. Watching those fishes in the pond for an hour was more therapeutic for me than a massage in Turkey.
In the 16th century Guru Arjan, the fifth guru of Sikhism laid the foundation for Harmandir Sahib aka Golden temple. The temple was subsequently destroyed by Mughals and restored later by Sikhs for several years. It was in 1809 that Maharaja Ranjit Singh after founding the Sikh Empire, rebuilt it in marble and copper and overlaid the sanctum with gold foil in 1830. Thus giving it the name Golden temple. The gold foil constitutes to approximately 750 Kgs of Gold.
At the Golden temple, take the Langar (Food) at the Guru ka Langar. Guru ka langar feeds over 5 lac people everyday free of cost.
2. Durgiana Temple:
When to Visit: Anytime. The mornings are particularly lovely because of the fog.
How to reach: Hire a half day taxi for INR 100-300 to take you to Durgiana temple, Gobindgarh fort and Ram Tirth. Add Wagah border for another INR 1000/-. For a solo traveller, there are sharing cabs available for less than 200 INR.
Entry Fee: Free
This is another beautiful temple in Amritsar that you should not miss. While the architecture is similar to that of Golden temple, the deities aren’t. This temple derives its name from the Goddess Durga, the chief Goddess deified and worshipped here. Idols of Goddess Laksmi (goddess of wealth) and Vishnu (the protector of the world) are also deified here and worshipped.
3. Wagah-Border Beating Retreat Ceremony:
When to Visit: Reach before 3:00 PM to grab good seats on Weekends. On Weekdays try to get there before 5:00 PM. These are Winter times. Add an hour extra to the clock for Summer.
How to reach: Shared cabs charge 100-200 INR per person for the Border. Pay 1000-1200 INR and you can have the whole taxi to yourself.
Entry Fee: Free
Who wouldn’t want to miss Indian and Pakistani soldiers doing high kicks and eccentric drills in a show of power? The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border is a daily military practice that the security forces of India (Border Security Force, BSF) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959. The drill is characterised by elaborate and rapid dance-like manoeuvres, I would describe them enthralling.
The energy is contagious. When the emcee shouts ‘Bharat Mata ki’, you inadvertently shout ‘Jai’ at the top of your voice to complete the statement. During weekends the place starts to fill up from 2:30 PM so be sure to be there on time. On weekdays however you can take the liberty to reach around 4:30 PM.
The BSF does a good job at keeping the crowd entertained by making the ladies in the crowd run with Indian flags, dance on the street on patriotic songs and asking people to shout loud enough assuming that will scare Pakistan.
4. Sadda Pind:
When to Visit: 10 AM to 11:30 PM
How to reach: Book a local taxi, the prices vary with hour of the day but do not pay more than 700 INR for a 6 hour round-trip.
Entry Fee: INR 650 Per person
We did not include this in our itinerary, you sure should. At Roaming Clan we leave a huge chunk of the day for our roamers to explore the place by themselves. This helps individuals understand their style of travel. Knowing what you love to do and what you don’t is the soul of a solo traveller and you can only come close to your individuality if you are left alone to discover.
Our roamers decided to use their time alone and head to Sadda Pind. Straight out of their website, this is what it is:
Imagine a bustling village in Punjab.
Beautiful mud houses,
lassi being churned,
men busy in animated discussions on their charpais,
children climbing trees,
artisans creating something beautiful,
women singing a soulful melodies,
a group of youngsters breaking into a joyful dance..
That’s Sadda Pind for you.
5. Jallianwala Bagh Memorial:
When To Visit: 10 AM to 5 PM
How to Reach: Walk. Chances are the area is closer to your hotel than you think. However you can always take a battery operated sharing rickshaw for 10/20 INR per person.
Entry Fee: Free
A little history lesson never killed anyone but brutal killings are part of our history. In 1919 General Dyer opened fire at innocent peaceful protestors gathered at Jallianwala Bagh on the occasion of Baisakhi. Close to 1000 Indians lost their lives as the exits from the garden were too narrow for everyone to escape in time.
At the same place today stands a memorial for the martyrs and a museum to remind us of a dark past and keep the memory of the martyrs alive. This is definitely a not-to-miss site. Inside the Bagh you will also find the walls from the time, now stading with the bullet holes.
6. Partition Museum:
When to Visit: 10 AM to 6 PM
How to Reach: Walk or take a battery operated rickshaw for 10/20 INR per person.
Entry Fee: INR 10 per person
Opened as recently as August 2017, this museum was not on our list initially and we would have regretted it if we hadn’t been there. How much do you know about the time India got her independence from the British and we were divided into 2 rival countries India and Pakistan? My guess is not much.
I am saying that with confidence because I have always been a history buff myself and I was left in awe at the artifacts I witnessed inside the museum. There are eye-witness accounts of the time when the migrants were forced to live in refugee camps, beg on streets for food and when the city of Amritsar had opened its arms to them.
Without dwelling much about the museum I request you to take out 2 hours of your time to visit the partition museum. You will earn the bragging rights of knowing everything about what happened when united India was divided to form India and Pakistan.
7. Gobindgarh Fort:
When to visit: 10 AM to 6 PM
How to Reach: Hire a half day taxi for INR 100-300 to take you to Durgiana temple, Gobindgarh fort and Ram Tirth. Add Wagah border for another INR 1000/-. For a solo traveller, there are sharing cabs available for less than 200 INR.
Entry Fee: INR 25 per person. An additional INR 145 for the 7D show about the history of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
The Fort of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sher-i-Punjab the founder of Sikh Empire, Gobindgarh fort is a vast complex with 2 museums, one theatre and many activities. The story of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is nothing short of a legend and the fort offers an excellent 7D show to give us a peak into his life.
The fort was opened to Public in Feb-2017 and once again it strikes a chord with the visitors by offering a stellar performance line up of Gatka, Bhangra, Gidda by professionals in the garden. The museums in the forts are state-of-the-art history museums giving us a glimpse of history of the Sikhs and the Sikh empire’s rise while unifying Punjab.
The Toshkhana/treasure house of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is built keeping the 19th century design in mind and also houses a replica of the Koh-i-noor which was gifted to Maharaja Ranjit Singh by Sujah Durrani for breaking him out of a prison. The story of the possession of the Koh-i-noor is disputed but this is what you will learn at the fort.
Koh-i-noor was willed to Jagganath Puri temple by Ranjit Singh but the British decided to keep it for themselves.
It is in these museums that we made our Mannequin Challenge video as well:
8. A few Honourable mentions:
There are a lot of things to do in Amritsar, but the list above is our favourite. You can choose to go to these places if you have the time or it is something you wish to not miss. Personally if we weren’t short on time, we would have done Ram Tirth.
- Walk in the tiny allies of Amritsar
- Take a picture at the Fawwara chowk
- Ram Tirth – Birth place of Luv and Kush
- The Mall of Amritsar
- Be awed by the Golden temple Multi level parking area near the GT Bus stand.
Where to Eat:
Alright you foodies we’ve got you covered. I won’t lie, it was a difficult and daunting task to figure out the places to eat. Taste of food is subjective, but we can assure you to freely hop on to these places for a delicious meal you won’t regret having. Remember the internet has a lot of favourites, but these are Roaming Clan personal favourites.
Beera Halwai/Samosa wala: Walk here for a delicious Puri-Sabji combo in the morning. Mix it up with Kachori and/or Top it up with the sweet halwa.
Mastana Kulcha wala: One more relatively unknown gem of Amritsar, this place offers you Kulchas that make you lick your fingers. Paneer Kulcha is to die for.
Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wala: The only place you should ever eat Jalebi. Period.
Guru ka Langar: Guru ka Langar is open 24 hours, I personally recommend going there for Lunch. The Langar feeds over 5 lac people daily and yet the quality of the food can send some posh restaurants run for their money.
Brother’s Dhaba: Try the Mini Meals if you aren’t hungry much. Being around for close to 50 years does have a signature style of food and you will notice that in the Parathas and Kulchas of the Dhaba.
Makhan Chicken and Fish Centre: I may be a vegetarian but not all our roamers are. Amritsar is famous for its exotic fish and thus is Makhan Dhaba for serving those fishes.
Marwadi Dhaba: Okay, believe me when I say that there will come a time when you will wish to not eat Punjabi food like Paratha, Kulcha, Naan, etc and that’s when Marwadi Dhaba will come to your rescue. The light weight thali is what you need to escape the heaviness of the Authentic Punjabi food.
Added note: Most websites recommend Kesar-ka-Dhaba as a favourite so we did go there for dinner. All 6 roamers unanimously voted to never recommend the place to anyone.
There you are:
That’s our list folks. Hope it helps you make the most of Amritsar. We would love to know what you think about our list, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Roamers on the trip: Anand, Shweta, Navin, Mukteswar
Clan Captains: Naimish & Priyanka
If you want to travel to Amritsar with us, drop a note to us.