Amritsar city, located in the northern Punjab, of northwestern India, it is known for Sikhism’s most important shrine; Sri Harmandir Sahib (“The abode of God”), also known as Darbar Sahib, informally referred to as The Golden Temple.
History of Golden Temple
The Buddha is known to have spent time at this place (before the temple was built) followed by Guru Nanak from 1469 to 1539, the founder of the Sikh religion. After the Guru passed away, his disciples continued to visit this place and that’s how it became the primary sacred Shrine of Sikhism.
The foundation of the temple was laid by saint Hazrat Mian Mir ji (from Lahore) the Hari Mandir, (Shrine) Temple of God was built from the early 1600s and completed around 1604 A.D.
The Golden Temple is a blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. Golden temple embodies the principles of Sikhism it has Entrance from all the 4 sides of the temple, this signifies that people of all religious faiths and traditions are Welcome.
The temple stands in the middle of a square water body known as the Amrit Sarovar (the Pool of Nectar). There is a way across the pool leading you inside the Shrine.
How to reach Amritsar?
Amritsar is well-connected to many major Indian cities by air, road and rail. Some of the must-see tourist attractions apart from the Golden Temple include Akal Takht, Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum, Wagha Border, etc.
How to Reach Amritsar by Air
Located around 11 km from the city is the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport which has more than 160 domestic and international flights. There are daily direct flights to and from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, London, Doha, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.
How to Reach Amritsar by Road
Located on the NH1, Amritsar is well connected by road. Daily bus services, both government and private run, to and from Ambala, Patiala, Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu. For transportation within the city, you can take Ola, Uber, rickshaws, auto rickshaws, taxis or buses.
How to Reach Amritsar by Rail
The Amritsar Railway Station connects the city to almost all major Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Agra, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh. A train journey from Delhi to Amritsar takes a minimum of 6 hours.
Reaching Darbar Sahib / Golden Temple
There is a newly created Entrance Plaza, which starts from Ghanta Ghar Chowk, the streets are beautified and vehicles are restricted, there are many shops around to shop and Eat.
As soon as you reach the end of Golden Temple Road from Ganta Ghar Chowk, you will see the newly build Entrance Plaza and a fountain which operates around evening time.
There is a facility to keep your Footwear and Bags/backpacks. After you deposit them you walk towards the Entrance Plaza, make sure you are covering your head with a handkerchief, Bandana, Scarf or a cloth/chunni, it’s not mandatory to buy the headscarf you can find the scarfs at the entrance, then there is an area with water where you wash your feet before entering the Sacred Area.
When you start walking towards the Golden temple you can feel the air around you gives you immense pleasure and the hymns of kirtans and chantings playing in a rhythm indulge with your soul and calms your senses, this leads you to a deep spiritual experience, when you enter the Golden Temple Area the ambience is filled with positive energies, all the happy and peaceful vibes you get from people around you makes you forget all your worries, it’s a mesmerising experience.
You will see so many people doing parikrama around the temple and almost everyone does Seva in the temple, seva can be done in many ways. Even you can perform seva for as long as you wish to.
Take a deep breath, your eyes wouldn’t be able to see the whole temple at once, so make sure you stand/sit at one place or while doing the parikrama you enjoy the mesmerizing view of the temple.
Take it slow, each section is beautifully designed,
At corners, you can see drinking water is being distributed in steel bowls,
you can see the fishes swimming in the Amrit Sarovar,
you can observe the people around you, learn more by reading the posters and scriptures embossed in the wall about this place, learn by watching others perform seva by cleaning the mats/temple stairs/ floor, join them for cleaning or helping them at Langar Hall/Kitchen , Take a bath in the amrit sarovar,
listen and enjoy the kirtans being played,
once you visit the main shrine you can observe the beautifully carved marble,
The gold-plated domes,
The gems embedded in the walls, while exiting the shrine you can drink the Amrit Sarovar tirth, then after crossing the bridge you can taste the blissful Khara Prasad, the list keeps going on and on. You can only experience better and feel all these by visiting the Golden temple personally.
You can watch the entire experience in my video below and the story as well as narrated by a good friend of mine, Anoop mahajan 🙂 .
So what are you waiting for, book your tickets to Amritsar right away:).
Where to Stay at Amritsar?
There are a huge number of hotels and Dharamsala are also available just outside the Temple Area, the rooms allotted by Temple authorities are known as Sarai these can be booked online, they charge you a minimal amount and a small refundable deposit.
There are many economical stay options around the Bus Stand and Railway station. Do check their review thoroughly before booking them online, many hotels tend to have similar names, so double check with their map pointed locations as well.
Some of the hotels that you can consider when staying in Amritsar are,
- Hotel Sallow Royal Suites.
- Hyatt Regency
- Treebo Hotels
Single travellers can choose to stay economically by checking the available backpacker’s hostels at Amritsar.
Tips to Remember
- The Palaki procession takes place in the early morning hours around 04.30 am you can choose to attend that.
- Keep your head covered at all times inside the temple premises.
- Make sure you try the Langar here. Langar Provides the striking Example of the Power of Sewa, this is an awesome experience.
- You can choose to sit/sleep/meditate inside the temple parikrama complex and experience the breathtaking view of the Golden Temple at sunrise. But make sure that doesn’t cause any trouble to others visiting the temple.
- Capture your memories :).