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Amritsar city points of interest

Discussion in 'Punjab' started by KanikaDua, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. KanikaDua

    KanikaDua New Member

    I am from Delhi and will be going to Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple. I will be going to the Gurdwara as soon as I reach Amritsar and then again in the evening.

    I wanted to know what other Amritsar city points of interest are so that I can plan the rest of my time there. I am interested in knowing about the famous places to eat there as well, as I have heard that Amritsar is popular for its food.
     


  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!

    Amritsar city points of interest.

    Overview

    How do you describe Amritsar in a few words? It's a place where there's unity in diversity, where religions cease to exist and where modernity amalgamates with the ancient. As the Home of the Sikhs, the city has many religious temples for the religion of Sikhism. However, there are no restrictions to entering such sites, so whether you're a Hindu, Christian, Muslim or even if you don't have any religion that you can designated yourself with, you're welcome in this city. A foodie's haven? Well, that's another title that can be given to Amritsar, where you can enjoy the very best of the Punjabi cuisine. In this guide, we would highlight best attractions to visit when in Amritsar. Also included are the very best dining places in the city, where you can satisfy the innate foodie in you.

    Amritsar City - Points of Interest

    Historical attractions at Amritsar.
    (Images from Graham, Gobindgarh, Stefan and Guilhem)
    • Jallianwala Bagh - If there's one event that lead to the unification of India against the colonial rule, it was the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. While the Jallianwala Bagh looks and seems serene today, it was once the place of a tragic and horrible massacre that lead to the deaths of over 1,000 Indians. In April 13, 1919, also the auspicious celebration of the Baisakhi of the Sikhs, over 15,000 protesters gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh. During that time, the city of Amritsar has been in a turmoil, with strict curfews and other rules imposed upon the locals. Earlier before the massacre, two important Sikh leaders, Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Saifuddin were arrested as well, which was why a peaceful protest was decided upon by the locals. Upon knowledge of this protest, Colonel Reginald Dyer, with his army of 90 Gurkha soldiers, went to the Jallianwala Bagh. Instead of warning the protesters though, the army and its leader proceeded to shoot fire upon them, exhausting over 1,600 rounds of bullets. The very narrow entrance slash exit became a reason for stampede which caused numerous deaths as well. Some of the protesters jumped into a deep well, which caused suffocation and eventually death. Bodies of women, children and men were recovered after the massacre, which turned out to be a turning point in the Indian Freedom Movement struggle. Now, though the garden remains well maintained and has become of one the main attractions of the city. The bullet marks in the surrounding wall, the portraits of the tragic incident, the shrubs shaped like soldiers shooting fire and the central fire flame-like monument, these would all trigger the patriotic side in you.
    • Gobindgarh Fort - The Gobindgarh Fort was just opened for tourism last year, 2016. Its history can be traced back to the rule of Gujjar Singh Bhang which was around the 18th century. But the present structure can be attributed more to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who strengthened and expanded the fort during the 19th century. Thereafter, the British also captured the fort and added some enhancements to it. The fort has two layers, which provided more defence for the inhabitants during the era of the Maharajas. Surrounded by a deep moat and several bastions, these ensured that attackers would have a hard time bringing down the defence of the fort. There are various structures inside the fort that one can visit as well. The Toshakhana, which was once the place where the treasures of Maharaja Ranjit Singh were stored, has now been converted into a museum showcasing ancient coins. The Old Bungalow of Dyer has now been converted into a museum too, showcasing ancient armouries and weaponries. Structures like the Fansi Ghar, the hanging house where freedom fighters were hanged to death, or the Darbar Hall, once the public celebrations hall of the British can also be visited. Don't miss the shows in the Sher-E-Punjab and Whispering Walls as well which highlight the rich history of Amritsar.
    • Pul Kanjari - Pul Kanjari can be literally translated to the Bridge of Kanjari, the latter meaning a dancer. This bridge is located about 35 kilometres away from Amritsar, close to the villages of Daoka and Dhanoa Kalan. During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the village was a thriving trading hub. It was also a pitstop of the ruler as he makes his way to Lahore from Amritsar. According to local legends though, the bridge here was built for Moran, a local Kanjari or dancer that used to perform for Maharaja Ranjit Singh. She had to cross the small canal here to reach Amritsar from her village and once, her shoes, which was gifted by the Maharaja, fell unto the waters. The incident frustrated her so much that she refused to reach the city. Upon knowledge of the Maharaja, he built a bridge here for the dancer and was so-named Pul Kanjari. Aside from the bridge, there are other structures here built by the same ruler, the Baradari, the Samovar and various religious sites comprising of a mosque, temple and a gurudwara. Historically, the bridge was also captured by the Pakistanis during the Indo-Pak War but was lated reclaimed by the Indian Army. However, there were still martyrs who laid their life for this reclamation, highlighted by the small memorial in the premises.
    • Baba Deep Singh Ji Memorial - One of the most revered martyrs in Sikh history is Baba Deep Singh Ji. The principles of Baba Deep Singh Ji were always aligned with the teachings of Sikhism which made him one of the most well-loved Sikh gurus under the patronage of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. In 1757, Baba Deep Singh Ji, along with an army of Sikhs successfully freed prisoners and garnered loots of the army of Ahmed Shah Durrani. This angered the ruler which lead to their revenge, which was the defacing of the holy Sikh site, the Harmandir Sahib. Baba Deep Singh Ji promised to avenge their holy site and vowed that no matter what, he would return to the Harmandir Sahib. Initially, an army of just 500 men accompanied him but as they went from village to village, the army grew to 5,000. The gruesome and bloody battle of the Sikhs and the Afghans then ensued but alas, the holy guru was injured in his neck and some accounts even say that he was decapitated. But he continued to fight, some saying that he even held his head on one hand which lead to the fleeing of the scared Afghans, until he reached the Harmandir Sahib where he breathed his last. Thus, a memorial was erected in the exact place where he died here, to give tribute to the martyrdom of the guru.
    • Wagah Border - The Wagah Border is one of the two open border areas between India and Pakistan. However, this border is more special because of the daily Beating Retreat Ceremony that occurs here. Wagah Border is about 32 kilometres away from the city centre of Amritsar. The ceremony involves the lowering of the flags of both the Indian Border Security Force and Pakistani Rangers. There's no better term for it than that of a spectacle, where you can enjoy the angst, rivalry, tensions and of course, patriotism of both the armies. The ceremony occurs everyday before sunset, around 16:30 during winter or 17:30 during summer and monsoon. Witnessed by over 10,000 spectators daily, the crowds here are quite huge but certainly, this is a can't be missed attraction in the city.
    Relegious places at Amritsar.
    (Images from Himanshu, Giridhar, Diego and Holiday IQ)
    • Harmandir Sahib - The holiest shrine of the Sikhs is none other than the Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple. It's one of the few religious places where you can see Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus together. From the outside, the temple is surrounded by a holy reservoir, known as the Sarovar. This reservoir or tank is fed by the Ravi River and was planned to be built by Guru Amar Das. However, it was Guru Ram Das who successfully completed the tank, to which the entire city of Amritsar was planned from. In the early 16th century, Guru Arjan then began the construction for the Harmandir Sahib which took around 6 years to be completed. The Harmandir Sahib is a huge complex comprising of the main temple, the tank, the kitchen and many more. Of course, the main star of the complex is the temple, which sparkles in its gleaming golden colour, this authentic gold plating can be attributed to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In contrast to Hindu temples, the Harmandir Sahib was built on lower ground, instead of a hillock. The guiding principle for this is so that devotees can learn humility. The temple also has four entrances instead of just one which signifies the openness of the Sikh religion. And finally, the temple is open for visitors, regardless of religion, caste or status in life. Such is the beauty of the Golden Temple, where you can enjoy spirituality, along with people from other walks of life. While you're here, also give the Akal Takht a visit, the highest court of the Sikh religion, located just opposite the main temple.
    • Durgiana Temple - From a distance, the Durgiana Temple might appear to be the Harmandir Sahib, especially since first-time visitors of the city would see this religious site first. It has the same features of a tank with a central temple, with its gold-plated dome and marble-plastered exteriors. This temple though is mainly a Hindu one, dedicated to the Goddess Durga. In terms of size, it is also smaller than the former temple. The main sanctum holds an idol of Goddess Durga but there are also shrines for Lord Hanuman and Sita, the avatar of Lakshmi. According to local stories, the Durgiana Temple was built to allow for Hindu women to have their own bathing tank, as the former temple doesn't allow for women to bathe in the holy tank. A must-see here is the intricately carved silver doors that have cravings of the different avatars of Goddess Durga. Thus, it is sometimes referred to as the Silver Temple of Amritsar.
    • Tarn Taran Sahib Gurudwara - The Tarn Taran Sahib Gurudwara is about 25 kilometres away from Amritsar. To describe the temple simply, it is quite big but less opulent than the famed Harmandir Sahib. This holy temple was built by Guru Arjan Dev, which initially begun with the Tarn Taran. The Tarn Taran is the large water reservoir of the temple premises, believed to be the largest of its kind in the whole world. Aside from its size, the water from this tank is revered holy by many, as it is believed to cure one of illnesses. The water reservoir is surrounded by a marble platform, which can get hot during the day, but certainly looks grand and inviting. At the southeastern bank of the reservoir is the main shrine premises, evident by its huge copper dome even from a distance. The interiors are lined with intricate stucco works, gilded with gold and accentuated by the red and blue elements.
    • Mandir Mata Lal Devi - For the devout Hindus or even those interested in Hinduism, the Mandir Mata Lal Devi can give an overview of the entire religion. The main shrine here is dedicated to Mata Lal Devi and looks as if any other Hindu shrine. It is very colourful and vibrant, housing some idols of Hindu deities. But reach onto the left side, where a narrow stairway can lead you to the replicas of other religious temples of the country. Noteworthy of these replicas is the Mandir of Vaishno Devi, which can be originally found in Katra. Just like the authentic pilgrimage experience, you have to climb a few stairs and even pass through a cave to reach the temple premises proper. The Shakti Peethas and Jyotirlingas were also replicated in this temple complex.
    • Santokhsar Sahib - There are many holy water reservoirs in Amritsar but the Santokhsar Sahib's water reservoir is considered as the first of its kind in the city. It was Guru Arjun Dev Ji who initiated for the construction of this holy tank as well as the shrine. It receives less visitors so if you're someone who enjoys tranquility, this is the place to be. It is not as opulent as the former Sikh shrines but boasts of a pure white exteriors in its main complex. The interiors are richly ornate with murals in its ceiling and carvings in its pillars. The dome, unlike the previous Sikh shrines, is of a pure white too.
    Museums at Amritsar.
    (Images from Indrajit, Journeys Matter, Sarbjit and Sukhvinder)
    • Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum - The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum is located in the Summer Retreat Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which is in the premises of the Company Bagh. The museum has several sections but the most recent of which is the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama in its first floor. In this section, you can have a complete overview of the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the form of 3D images, photographs and even paintings. It even has life-size replicas of war and battle scenes from the life of the ruler. At the ground floor, you can enjoy the showcasing of various ancient artefacts from the era of the Maharajas as well like painting, coins, manuscripts and ancient weaponries. The stunning swords, gilded with precious stones and jewels, are sure to attract the on-looker. Take your time as well to visit the well-manicured lawns of the museum premises.
    • Partition Museum - This unique museum is located in the Town Hall of Amritsar. In history, it was in the year 1947 when the partition between India and Pakistan was created. This partition and the migration isn't quite a peaceful one, it has lead to tragic events, like deaths, murders, separation of families and more. Those who were living in between the newly formed partition were forced to abandon their homes and even their occupations. This gruesome part of Indian, and even Pakistani, history is outlined in the Partition Museum. From the newspaper clippings announcing the partition, to the actual audio tapes of the personal accounts of individuals who survived the partition, you can find them all here. There are also personal objects of the survivors of the partition, those that depict their stories of separation, love, uncertainties and yes, even healing. Particularly interesting is the Gallery of Hope, which highlights the success stories of those who were affected by the partition.
    • Punjab State War Heroes Memorial & Museum - This is a newer museum opened by the government just last year, located en route to the Wagah Border. From the outside, the first structure you'd see is the huge sword-like monument, which has over 3,000 names of the martyred soldiers of India during the wars that have stricken the country. Amritsar seems to be the perfect place for this rare kind of a museum, as it has always been the grounds for wars, due to its location near the border with Pakistan. In the main building, there are exhibits showcasing the major wars fought in the Indian subcontinent, like the Indo-Pak War of 1971, Kashmir War of 1948 and even the Indo-China Wars. The museum showcases such wars in forms of paintings, ancient weaponries and photographs, so it's as if you're transported to that dark part of the history of India.
    • Central Sikh Museum - The Central Sikh Museum is located within the Harmandir Sahib complex. It is on the Clock Tower side of the temple premises, approached through a narrow staircase. This museum highlights the rich history of the religion of Sikhism through the means of portraits and paintings. The first section highlights the revered ten gurus of the Sikh religion while the second section highlights the various martyrdoms and sacrifices that the Sikhs experienced amidst various eras. Scenes of Sikhs dying under the hands of the Mughals or the infamous Operation Blue Star can all be seen in this museum.
    wild life at Amritsar.
    (Images from Spssm, Educare and Deepak)
    • Harike Wetland & Bird Sanctuary - The Harike Wetland & Bird Sanctuary is located about 80 kilometres away from Amritsar. It is well worth a detour though because it is home to a wide variety of avifaunae, some are resident ones and others are migratory ones. This is Punjab's very own Keoladeo, the more popular bird sanctuary located in Rajasthan. Established in 1982, it boasts of aquatic animal species, apart from the numerous bird species residing here. As with any bird sanctuary, the best season for exploring is during the winter, when birds from other countries migrate to India. Both the rivers of Sutlej and Beas drain the water here, which gives the lake its pristine and pure water. Bird species such as white-dumped vultures, Eurasian tree sparrows, white-browed fantails, sulphur-bellied warblers and more migrate to the sanctuary during winter season. Turtles, fishes and even the endangered Indus dolphins also reside in this wetland sanctuary. This is not yet a commercialised attraction so the tourist facilities in and around it are very limited. Further, you need to procure a permit via the Forest Department close to the sanctuary itself. But for the lovers of nature and wildlife, this attraction is certainly a must-add in your itinerary.
    • Guru Ka Langar - First on this section is the Guru Ka Langar, located on the Harmandir Sahib complex premises. A visit to Amritsar won't be complete, especially for the foodies, without indulging the simple meals prepared by the volunteers of the Golden Temple. Yes, meals here are served free of charge, and anyone, regardless of caste, gender, religion or status in life, can have their meals here. It is believed that over 50,000 individuals are fed by the temple management daily. The simple vegetarian meal consists of Roti, Dal, Sabji and Kheer. The guests need to sit on the floor and meals are all served in steel plates. A water-serving machine would also give the individuals their round of water. This dining hall highlights the principle of Sikhism, relying on equality and even on unity, as the volunteers make the meals on a very organised way. While the meals are very home-cooked and simple, the underlying principle on why it was made just makes the dining experience more satisfying.
    • Kesar Da Dhaba - This legendary dhaba has been featured in various local and international shows. It is located in a narrow-lane area of Amritsar, close to the Town Hall. This is one of the oldest dhabas in the city, established in 1916, which means it celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. If you want to taste authentic Punjabi food at very affordable prices, this is the place to be. Ambience-wise, the place doesn't have much to boast, as is with many dhabas, but you need to go past that to truly enjoy meals here. Their Aloo Parantha is a must-try dish, with dollops of butter, incredibly crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, one bite would leave you speechless. Also worth trying is their Palak Paneer, which is very creamy and goes well with the former dish. This dhaba also has thalis, which are all-in-one meals comprising of various dishes.
    • Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner - The Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner is located near the Madaan Hospital in Amritsar. Since the former dhaba is largely a vegetarian joint, you can head to the Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner for your fish and chicken needs. Unlike the former as well, this is a casual dining restaurant so the ambience is a bit more elevated. The specialty and best-seller dish of this restaurant is the Sangara Fish Fry, which is basically a starter meal comprised of around seven fish pieces. This dish is very flavourful but not too overbearing, it has the right amount of crunch and remains soft on the inside. For the chicken lovers, do try their Tandoori Chicken, which would give you an overwhelming melt in your mouth experience.
    • Kulcha Land - Kulcha Land is located in Ranjit Avenue, just opposite the MK Hotel of Amritsar. This is a small road-side restaurant, like a dhaba, which mainly serves the street food, Kulcha. However, here, you're treated to various variants of Kulcha like Amritsari Kulcha, Paneer Kulcha and Masala Kulcha. All three are worth trying out but if you want something different do opt for the Paneer Kulcha, with bits of scrumptious paneer inside. The sidings of Chole and Chutney also deserve a mention, as they truly bring out the unique tastes of the breads. Aside from their Kulcha, the restaurant also serves thick and creamy Lassi, a perfect way of ending your meal here.
    • Brothers Dhaba - Close to the Golden Temple is the Brothers Dhaba, yet another pride of Amritsar when it comes to Punjabi cuisine. The interiors of the restaurant are very simple though they have air-conditioning which not all dhabas have. The restaurant serves mostly Punjabi dishes but also has an assortment of Chinese and Continental cuisines. The dishes here are mainly vegetarian, which are all scrumptious as they are healthy. Try out their Baingan Ka Bharta, a spice infused dish of eggplants that goes well with parantha or rice. Speaking of parantha, their Aloo Parantha and Lachedar Parantha are worth trying out as well. Their Paneer Kali Mirch, with its cottage cheese pieces, garlic and invigorating pepper, would awaken your taste buds.
    • Ahuja Milk Bhandar - Serving the best Lassi in the city is the Ahuja Milk Bhandar, near the Hindu College of Amritsar. They have two varieties of Lassi, namely, the Kesar Lassi and the Sweet Lassi. If you're more into sweeter beverages, opt for the Sweet Lassi, which is flavoured by different fruit juices. The Kessar Lassi is made delectable by the addition of saffron, which adds to its sweet aroma. They also have other dairy-derived sweets like Phirni and Kulfi that are worth trying out.
    • Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wala - This pretzel-shaped sweet delight is popular amongst North Indians. In Amritsar, the best place to try this sweet-tasting dish is in the Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wala. This small street-food stall is located close to the Golden Temple. For steaming hot jalebi, fried in huge dollops of ghee, with enough crispness to it, this is your best bet. As you bite into the yummy goodness, your first experience would be its crispness but then the softness and chewiness provides a striking contrast to the overall dining experience. There are always queues in here so be prepared for that, it's all worth it though.
    • Kanha Sweets - Despite the name, Kanha Sweets also serves breakfast but with a very limited menu. It is located just opposite Bijli Pehalwan Mandir in Amritsar. For breakfast, the menu is only that of Bhatura, Aloo Ki Sabji and Chole. All these three dishes are delicious and quite affordable on the pocket as well. The Bhatura here is very fluffy and light, as it is fried twice before serving. It goes well with the Chole, which has this mild sweet tinge to it. The Aloo Ki Sabji is also out of this world, the balance of flavours is sure to entice you for a second serving. Their Gur Halwa, made from semolina flour and jaggery, is also a must try if you have a sweet tooth.
    Conclusion

    Well, there you have it, a simple sightseeing guide for the city of Amritsar. From its heritage sites, to its religious sites, to the museums and nature getaway, you have them all here. Of course, what's a trip to any city without tasting its local cuisine? As such, this guide also includes the most popular eating places in Amritsar, ranging from dhabas, to street-food stalls and restaurants. Are you ready for your trip to the Holy City of the Sikhs? Make sure you bookmark this page for future reference. Have fun!

    :)
     

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