Whenever we get to discuss anything about Amritsar, the only name that strikes our mind is Golden Temple. In fact, the name of the city Amritsar has been derived from the sacred lake around this temple wherein, the word ‘Amrit’ means a medicinal solution and the word ‘sar’ on the other hand signifies a lake. This post will take you through the religious shrine and heritage of Sikh, the Golden Temple, which is visited by the people with different casts, creed or race.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar is also famed as Sri Harimandir Sahib Amritsar, and the construction of this great temple was initiated by Guru Ramdaas Ji. Later, the construction was completed in 1601 by Guru Ramdaas Ji’s successor Guru Arjan Dev Ji. This temple symbolises a blend of parity and brotherhood where people from any religions are welcomed with equal generosity.
The temple is open for all throughout the week from 2.30AM till 10PM. If you want to witness the first hukamnama at Golden temple, it is given at 5AM. Once Palki Sahib departs from the Sri Harimandir Sahib, the shrine gets closed. However, entering Golden temple doesn’t require any charges or entry fee.
Today, Golden Temple is reckoned amongst the most prominent religious hubs across globe for tourists and devotees. Considering the number of footfalls on regular basis, the temple authority caters various facilities to the visitors. Some of the key facilities provided inside the temple premises are free dispensaries, washrooms, free commutation to airport, bus stand and railway station, ATM, free shoe-keeping racks and many more.
Apart from the spiritual significance, the architectural brilliance of this divine and cultural Gurdwara pulls plenty of visitors every day from different parts of the globe. Let’s have a look into the architecture of Golden Temple.
The Architectural Brilliance:
What allures ample of visitors to this cultural centre of Sikh religion is its architectural exquisiteness. Having said, the temple represents a sign of equality and brotherhood, the structure of majestic Golden Temple exhibits an unmatched combination of Sikh and Muslim architecture. Pilgrims can enter the holy shrine through four different directions. Each of these entrances indicates that the scared shrine welcomes people from any caste, religion or race.
The dazzling embellishment of the temple with golden gild, magnificent stones and striking marble sculptures gives you a picturesque vista. Most of these marble works in the shrine carries their existence since the early 19th century. The brilliant artworks inside the temple are engraved in marble illustrating various flowers, animals and birds. For a bystander, these artworks depict the existence of lives everywhere. All these stunning marble works were conducted under the benefaction of Emperor Ranjit Singh and Hukam Singh Chimni.
Besides, there is a striking marble pathway that leads the visitors towards the sacred lake. It is believed that taking a holy dip in the water of Amrit Sarovar (the lake) washes away all the sin of an individual. Furthermore, the complex of Harmandir Sahib also houses the Akal Takht, which indicates the throne of the timeless one. This Akal Takht was constructed by the 6th Sikh Guru namely Guru Hargobind. Moving ahead next to the Hari Mandir, you will notice a langar, which is a communal free kitchen of Sikh.
It is said that Hari Mandir’s langar is the largest free kitchen in the world, which is capable of feeding up to 3, 00,000 people per day. The vegetarian food served in the langar has no dearth of savour and quality. The langar is open for all comers irrespective of culture, caste, gender, creed and race. The experience of having some scrumptious daal, subzi, chapattis and saccharine kheer at God’s abode followed by pious hymns being chanted at the background gives you a spiritual solace.
Things to do:
Visiting Golden Temple is always an amazing and spiritual opportunity that one must grab to witness the rich heritage and traditions of Sikh religion. The divine ambience and tranquillity around the Hari Mandir simply mesmerises your presence. Devotees flock to the city of Amritsar to worship, pray and seek blessings of the almighty as Pinni Prasad and Karah Prasad at Hari Mandir.
Apart from paying reverence, the golden gilding and mesmerising architecture of the holy shrine is a spectacle to behold. Tourists spend hours in exploring the mystifying beauty of this temple. After cherishing some wonderful moments around the temple in exploring its splendour, don’t forget to take a holy dip in the water of holy lake, known as Amrit Sarovar. It is believed that taking a holy bath here not only liberates one from his/her sin, but also cleans their souls.
The next amazing experience to have in Golden Temple is the communal lunch. The majestic shrine houses a giant langar catering free food to every visitor. A blend of luscious lunch and spiritual chant from the background adds a new flavour of mysticism to your visit at the realm of the Almighty.
Relaxing near the immaculate lake after lunch will surely drive you to a new level of solace. Furthermore, listening to the devotional music and hymns of Adi Granth turns the entire ambience of the temple completely celestial. Adi Granth is chanted throughout the day in Gurudwara. In addition, you can also visit the Community Sikh Museum and other Gurudwara situated at the temple premises.
Things to Remember in the Temple Premise
Being a holy shrine, visitors must count on certain points while entering the Golden temple. The following are some of the key points that every visitor should remember in the temple premises:
- Place your luggage and shoes on the specific racks provided at every entrance. This is absolute free of cost. Don’t forget to carry a token after depositing your belongings.
- Wash your feet and hands and cover your head before entering to the Sanctum Sanctorum.
- Visitors are instructed to switch-off their mobile phones inside the holy premises.
- Eating in the Parikarma is not permissible.
- Carrying tobacco, cigarette and any intoxicants are not allowed inside the sacred premises.
- Do not use soap or shampoo while taking a holy dip in the water of Amrit Sarovar. Swimming is also not allowed in Amrit Sarovar.
- Inside the Parikarma, photography is prohibited.
After spending some spiritual hours amidst Gurudwara, travellers must visit some adjoining and popular sites like Wagah Border, Harike Wetland and Bird Sanctuary, Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple etc.
Amongst these, the most popular is Wagah Border, which is the only crossing point between India and Pakistan. Wagah Border is locared around 27Kms away from Amritsar and it is often visited by many global audiences. If you are travelling from Delhi via Samjhauta Express, the train passes through Wagah. The best time to visit Wagah is August 15 when all the uniformed soldiers in massive turbans parade in synchronised manner. However, flag hoisting ceremony is practiced here every day when both Indian and Pakistani army practice the goose-stepping, and people from both sides flock Wagah Border to cherish this wonderful moment.
Best Time to Visit:
Though, Golden Temple is a place that can be visited all round the calendar. However, the best time to visit there is from November to February. During these periods the weather of Amritsar is absolutely favourable for visitors. However, the temple also witnesses a good numbers of devotees in the months of April and November on the eves of Baisakhi and Guru Nanak Jayanti respectively. Besides, Diwali and New Year are also celebrated here with equal enthusiasm.
How to Go:
The city of Golden Temple is well-connected to various major cities of India. Travellers can visit Amritsar via any of the following modes of transportation:
By Air: The nearest airport is Sri Guru Ram Das International Airport, which is located around 13Kms reach from the city. The airport is well-connected to the capital city Delhi and the distance is merely an hour. In addition, various international flights are also connected to Sri Guru Ram Das International Airport. There are number of flights to Sri Guru Ram Das International Airport from some prominent international destinations like Bergamo, London, Toronto, Barcelona, Central Asia etc.
From airport, you can hire a taxi or cab to reach the temple, and this will take nearly 20 minutes time. Depending on the type of cabs you hire, the charges may be somewhere around INR 300 or more.
By Train: Situated merely 2Kms away from the Golden Temple, the nearest railway head is Amritsar Junction, which has an extensive railway network connecting the major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. From Delhi, the train journey to reach Amritsar is around 6 hours, and the best option from Delhi is Shatabdi Express. The city of Golden Temple is also connected to Lahore via Samjhauta Express. In order to avoid last hour rush, it is advisable to book your railway tickets in advance. From Amritsar Junction you will get sharing auto, and it will cost you INR 10 /person. In addition, you can also reserve an auto-rickshaw for INR 80-100 (approximately).
By Road: Likewise air and train connectivity, Amritsar can be visited quite conveniently via roadways. The city is well-accessible by buses that run on regular basis from the places like Dharamshala, Jammu, Delhi, Ambala, Ferozepur, Chandigarh etc. The capital city Delhi is connected to Amritsar via Grand Trunk Karnal Road. Once you reach Amritsar, the driving distance to reach the temple is nearly 13Kms. However, for communicating within the city you can ride on city buses, auto-rickshaw and cycle rickshaws.
Places to Stay:
In order to take care of all the visitors and their amenities, various hotels, Yatra Niwas or inns are established in Amritsar. The Niwas Asthans are provided for pilgrims who visit the Golden temple from various parts of the country. The accommodations in such Niwas Asthans can be availed on first-come-first-serve basis. Some of the commonly visited Asthans are Guru Arjan Dev Niwas, Guru Ram Das Niwas, Guru Nanak Niwas etc.
Apart from these Niwas Asthans, various quality and budget hotels can also be availed in Amritsar by spending INR 100-INR3000. Here are few staying options in Amritsar listed for your convenience:
#Hotel Sarovar Regency
Address: Kucha Hathi Khana,
Bazzar Maisewan, Near Golden Temple,
Amritsar, Punjab 143001
#Hotel CJ International
Address: Opposite Langar Hall Building,
Inside Golden Temple Car Parking,
Amritsar, Punjab 143001
#Hotel Heritage Inn
Address: 1234 – Baba Attal Road,
Besides World Famous Golden Temple,
Amritsar, Punjab 143001
#Hotel City Heart
Address: Near Golden Temple,
Opposite Jallianwala Bagh,
Amritsar, Punjab 143001
Address: 117 Hall Bazaar,
Amritsar, Punjab 143006
Address: Clock Tower Extension,
Clock Tower Extension, Opp. Golden Temple,
Amritsar, Punjab 143001
Foods and Shopping:
Amritsar is a favourite destination for foodies. Apart from trying some delicious Langar Prashads, the city has various eateries offering a number of luscious dishes. Some of the popular dishes that you must try in Amritsar are Amritsari Kulcha, Shammi Kabab, Mutton Tikka, fish tikkas, Kharode ka Shorba, lachcha paratha, palak paneer and the smoky baigan bharta, lassi, kulfa etc. Amongst many other Dhabas and restaurants, few popular food stores include Brother’s Restaurant, Kesar da Dhaba, Bhrawan da Dhaba, and Crystal Restaurant etc.
If you are a shopping freak and want to purchase something around Golden temple, Guru Bazar is the best place for you. With more than 2500 stores, this is an old and one of the popular shopping hubs in Amritsar. Here you will get a diverse collection of apparels, dazzling ornaments, expensive stones, semi-precious stones, apparels, idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi, lamps etc. In addition, you can also buy some of the traditional objects related to the Sikh religion like bangles, shields, knives, swords etc.
So, plan your trip to the holy shrine in Amritsar and witness the symbol of equality and brotherhood.
- If you visit the Golden temple during peak season, book your air/railway tickets in advance.
- Don’t get into any chaos inside the Gurudwara.
- Avoid paying any amount to the Sewadars on duty.
- You can book the accommodations in Gurudwara in advance.
- If you happen to be there on Tuesday, non-vegetarian is not available in Amritsar on that day. This is done in the honour of the almighty.