Amritsar is an amazing city. It’s history, culture and food attract thousands of tourists everyday and has endeared it to everyone who has truly experienced the city. If you come to Amritsar, you must reserve a day just to visit the many historical monuments and landmarks here and for an entertaining and educational trip.
The most important monument in Amritsar is the Golden temple. It forms the soul of the city but is also the spiritual center and ideological heart of the very idea of Punjab. Besides this must-visit megalith, there are 2 other iconic monuments that are essential to take in when you come to town. Luckily, they can all be covered in a single day. Here’s a handy itinerary on how to do it:
To cover the most ground and to account for unavoidable delays and unforeseen incidents, it is best to start early. Amritsar is a city that awakes early, at the crack of dawn in true farm belt tradition. You will arise to traffic and other sounds of the city intermingled with the morning chirping of birds, including roosters and quite a few squirrels.
Start your journey in the heart of Amritsar around Atta Mandi. This is a short walk away from the Golden Temple and houses some of the best local eateries and a plethora of choices for a hearty traveller’s breakfast. Especially famous here are the Chole Bhatures, Butter Parathas and Madrassi Dosas, which are available at an assortment of eclectic establishments ranging from basic Dhabas to stylish cafes.
The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple is the best place to visit early in the morning. The soothing morning prayers here can instill a sense of peace and purpose that stay with you the whole day and ensure that you have a divine experience regardless of what you do. In the morning, there are fewer people at the temple as compared to the evening and therefore, one can also examine and appreciate the monument closely.
The vast complex of the Golden Temple is home to many wonders and fascinating details, which can best be surveyed with the help of an experienced guide. With luck, you can also witness the daily morning ritual of the priests taking the Guru Granth Sahib out of its room and carrying it to its exaulted place on a palanquin as sounds of kirtan rent the air.
After visiting the golden Temple, you can make you way to the nearby Jallianwala Bagh. This site is home to one of the most infamous and tragic incidents during India’s long struggle against British Raj. It was here that in 1919, British Soldiers, aided and assisted by Indian recruits fired on unarmed demonstrators and killed many young women and children in a cruel and brutal fashion.
Today, the site has been preserved for visitors to come here and see for themselves how the horrific incident unfolded. One can still see the bullet marks on the walls around the enclosed 6.5 acre complex and learn more about the incident but also learn about India’s long freedom struggle and the heroes who led the way. Jalianwala Bagh is a fitting memorial to those brave souls and their everlasting glory.
The Gobindgarh Fort is also located nearby and is an essential part of an educational survey of Amritsar. This magnificent fort in Amritsar was once the seat of power at the heart of the erstwhile Sikh Empire that stretched far and wide from Kashmir to Kandahar. The fort was in ruins but has now been painstakingly restored and rebuilt to house a number of shops, eateries, museums, cultural shows and more.
It is best to visit the fort in the evening when there are many activities and shows taking place. Particularly interesting is the weapons museum that houses authentic antique weapons used during the times of the fierce warrior King, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The museum also has authentic Sikh art and battle dresses from the 17th century.
After a long day of walking, wandering and learning, one can top off the experience by having diner at the in-house restaurant at Qila Gobindgarh. Appropriately named Kesariya Darbar, this stylish and luxurious restaurant serves authentic Punjabi delicacies and gourmet cuisines straight from the royal kitchens of the fort.
After dinner, you can walk around the many corridors, walkways and ramparts of the Qila to marshal your thoughts and reflect on all that you have seen and learnt today. With a newfound sense of pride in tradition and little bit of imagination, one can almost see the glorious and powerful aura that this city still permeates all around.