9 Best Things to do in Amritsar, India (Plus Travel Tips!)

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Amritsar is the center of Sikhism in India, where golden temples shimmer amongst crowded and lively streets and where travelers can experience a unique side of the Punjab region.

Amritsar dates back to the 16th century when a Sikh Guru decided that this was to be the place for a new city dedicated to the worship of their religion.

Since then, Amritsar has grown into a sprawling, cultural metropolis and has long been at the forefront of national events through the centuries.

Being close to the border with Pakistan, Amritsar experienced the worst of the partition, while before independence, the city was the scene of protests that turned for the worse under British rule.

There is a lot to see and a lot more to learn in the city, so to help you to plan your trip, here are the best things to do in Amritsar.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet India (Travel Guide)

9 Best Things to Do in Amritsar, India

Amritsar is full of excellent things to do and you will find the city to be an interesting mix of history and modernity, that’s always alive with pilgrims, tourists, and locals.

This is the holiest city in Sikhism and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit every day.

With many of the best things to do Amritsar revolving around Sikh religious sights, you can always expect things to be busy, that’s all part of the experience though.

The Golden Temple - Best Things to do in Amritsar

1. The Golden Temple

One of the best things to do in Amritsar is to visit the Golden Temple. This is the heart of the Sikh religion and an important place of worship and pilgrimage for Sikhs around the world.

The Golden Temple is the centerpiece of Amritsar and the golden walls quite literally shimmer in the bright sunlight of Punjab, while at night, bright lights ensure that it’s always visible.

The temple is built around a holy lake and dates back to the founding of the city itself in the 16th century when the Sikh Guru ordered the construction of a place of worship for his followers.

Over the centuries, the temple has been destroyed many times as Amritsar has been caught between wars and conflicts with Muslims, Hindus and the British.

As recently as 1984 the temple was the scene of destruction during Operation Blue Star, when Indira Gandhi, the Indian president, ordered the temple to be stormed by the army when it was being used as a base by Sikh militants.

The temple is always busy with pilgrims and ceremonies, but visitors are always welcome to explore the vast compound.

Our top recommended tours of The Golden Temple:

Amrit Sarovar in Amritsar

2. Amrit Sarovar

The Amrit Sarovar is the holy lake that gives the city of Amritsar its name. Dug by hand and filled with water, this reservoir has long been the scene of pilgrimages as Sikhs believe the waters to be blessed and holy with curative powers.

Many pilgrims can be seen bathing in certain areas of the lake throughout the day or taking part in ceremonies around the water’s edge.

The Amrit Sarovar is a wonderful place to wander through busy crowds and to get a taste of the cultural and religious significance of the city to Sikhs.

You will also find that some of the best views of the Golden Temple itself come from across the water, where the golden reflections can be seen in the lake.

Our top recommended tours of Amrit Sarovar:

Akal Takht in Amritsar

3. Akal Takht

The Akal Takht in Amritsar is one of the most important holy sites in Sikhism. Part of the overall Golden Temple complex, the Akal Takht translates roughly into English as the Throne of the Immortals.

In the Sikh religion, there are five Takhts, or thrones, which are all important seats of religious power. The Akal Takht in Amritsar is the most important of these five.

The Akal Takht is found opposite the main Golden Temple entrance and historically has always been known as a place of justice, where Sikh Gurus could make important decisions from.

The building dates back to 1606 but originally was just a simple wooden platform. Over time it’s been extended and built into a towering, impressive structure that would be unrecognizable to the first gurus, with the latest rebuilding occurring after the 1984 Operation Blue Star which caused destruction to the building.

The Akal Takht is one of the best things to see in Amritsar because this is a potent symbol of the local history and religion.

Guru Ka Langar in Amritsar

4. Guru Ka Langar

The Guru Ka Langar is an enormous food hall that’s found within the Golden Temple. More than just a canteen though, this is a place that exemplifies the very virtues and traits that the Sikh religion is founded upon.

The food here is served to anyone, regardless of your religion or nationality, and it’s always busy around the clock serving up vegetarian dishes to the streams of pilgrims that travel here from across the world.

The food is donation only and so you can give as much or as little as you like to enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner with other visitors to the temple.

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Jallianwala Bagh Gardens in Amritsar

5. Jallianwala Bagh Gardens

Amritsar has always been at the center of national events and one such unfortunate part of Indian history played out at the Jallianwala Bagh Gardens during the British rule in 1919.

Peaceful protesters gathered in the gardens, but British Indian soldiers opened fire, leaving hundreds dead. The event shaped calls for Indian independence and is today remembered as a turning point in the country’s history.

The Jallianwala Bagh Gardens is now a peaceful place of the memorial where many Indians visit for their own pilgrimage.

Our top recommended tours of Jallianwala Bagh Garde:

locals in Amritsar

6. Partition Museum

Being just a few kilometers from the border with Pakistan, the partition of India was a monumental event that again placed Amritsar at the forefront of national events in the late 1940s.

The partition of British India into India and Pakistan led to millions of deaths, and this museum tells the often understated story of the momentous event.

Our top recommended tours of Partition Museum:

Wagah Border Ceremony in Amritsar

7. Wagah Border Ceremony

A short rickshaw ride away from Amritsar will bring you to the Wagah Border with Pakistan. This is one of the most enduring, visible legacies of partition and also one of the most iconic border crossings in the world.

Every day, both sides attempt to outmatch each other with their flamboyant, loud and extreme border ceremonies as crowds on either side watching from the stands and cheer on their own nations.

It’s a bizarre experience, unlike any other border in the world.

Our top recommended tours of Wagah Border:

Gobindgarh Fort in Amritsar

8. Gobindgarh Fort

Dating back to the 18th century, the imposing Gobindgarh Fort is one of the most historic things to do in Amritsar.

This impressive fortification was used until very recently as an army base but has been since turned into a museum showcasing Sikh and Punjabi history and culture.

Inside the vast grounds, you can find several unique museums and sights to explore. These sights include the treasury of past Sikh rulers, a coin museum, Sikh warfare exhibitions, colonial bungalows and much, much more.

Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Amritsar

9. Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was one of the most important Sikh leaders in local history. A visit to his former palace is definitely one of the best things to do in Amritsar.

Also known as the Rambagh Palace, this is where Ranjit Singh would spend the summer when in Amritsar. He ruled in the late 18th century and established a Sikh Empire that would last only until the British annexed the Punjab.

Today he is still very much revered by Sikhs across the world who see him as striving for rights and independence from outside powers.  

Amritsar, India Travel Tips

Best Things to do in Amritsar

How to Travel to Amritsar

Amritsar is found in the state of Punjab, in the north-west of India and is one of the last major cities before the border with Pakistan begins.

Amritsar is a busy tourist hub and a major pilgrimage site in the region and as such is well connected to the rest of India, making it easy for travelers to get in and out of the city.

The international airport has several long-haul flights across the world, however, if flying, most travelers are likely to transit via Delhi or Mumbai before making the short hop onto Amritsar.

There are regular trains across the country, particularly to Delhi, with the fastest express route taking as little as 6 hours.

Getting around the city itself is best done by rickshaw and you can even make a deal to hire a private rickshaw driver for the day to take you to all the major sights.

The city center itself though can be chaotic and many streets are pedestrianized, making walking at times the only option.

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Best Things to do in Amritsar

Best Time of Year to Visit Amritsar, India

Amritsar experiences a hot, semi-arid climate and can be visited throughout much of the year.

The only rainfall generally arrives with the monsoon between July and September, which is also the hottest and most humid time of year to visit.

The best temperatures are found between December and March, but this busy winter period when the weather is coolest and at its most pleasant will also be the peak tourism season.

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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