Amritsar, Punjab's Golden City
Amritsar, Sikhism's holiest city, is home to the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) which has more visitors than the Taj Mahal, with thousands coming every day. Other Amritsar landmarks include the Hindu Dirgiana Temple with similar architecture to the Golden Temple, where Durga, the Mother Goddess, Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Vishnu, the Supreme God and world protector are worshipped. There's also the Gobindarh Fort and the Jallianwala Bagh public garden with the Amritsar massacre memorial.
Choosing when to go to Amritsar
The best time to visit is from October to March. Summers are hot with temperatures of around 42°C. For visiting during festival time, the major Sikh and Hindu festivals are celebrated, for instance the Harvest Festival, Vaisakhi, and the Punjabi New Year in April. The Hindu Festival of Colours, Holi, is a spring festival held at the time of the full moon in the month of Phalgun. In November, Guru Nanak Gurpurab celebrates the birth of the first Sikh guru with processions. The five day long Deepavali (Festival of Lights) is usually held in October or November, celebrating with bonfires, music and dancing.
Visas for Amritsar
Visas are necessary and available from the Indian High Commission, for which passports must have 6 months left till expiry and two blank pages. Verify that vaccines are up to date and inform yourself of other recommended vaccinations (e.g. Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Tetanus). If you intend travelling elsewhere in India, consider the rabies vaccination and be aware that malaria is prevalent in some regions.
Visitors should respect the Sikh religion by covering their head in the Golden Temple complex. Inside the complex smoking or drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited, and visitors should refrain from taking photos inside the temple. Prices here are much cheaper than in the UK, with the price of a basic meal at around 200 rupees.
Amritsar local information
The city bus takes about 24 minutes to get to the central bus station, which is approximately 11km away from Amritsar's Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport. If getting a taxi you should bargain hard and pay about 300 rupees.
Budget accommodation in a shared room starts at about 200 rupees while luxury hotels start at about Rs.2000 per night.
For getting around in Amritsar, public transport comprises buses, auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws. There are also taxis. Please note that motorised vehicles are prohibited in the area around the Golden Temple.