Amritsar, home to the Harmandir Sahib, is one of the most religious, historical, and cultural cities in India. According to the World Book of Records, the Harmandir Sahib aka the “Golden Temple” is the most visited religious place in the world.
More than 1 lakh devotees visit the temple daily, and during religious occasions, the footfall goes up to around 1.5 lakh-2 lakh which is even more than the Taj Mahal that receives around 20k-25k visitors daily.
The city of Amritsar has suffered numerous tragedies like the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and Operation Blue Star, however, the heart of its people still beats strong with lassi and ghee readily flowing in their veins. You will be amazed by the resilience and hospitality of the people in this city.
This Punjabi city offers plenty more than the Golden Temple, especially for all the foodies out there. Even with just 24 hours in town, you can hit the highlights and immerse yourself in India’s most celebrated culinary scenes. Here’s how.
Amritsar is known for its kulchas, a type of fermented bread which is normally paired with Chole in the state of Punjab. Head over to Brother’s Dhaba, 1 kilometer away from the Golden Temple, to gorge on authentic Amritsari food. Some must try items from the menu are Chole Kulche, Aloo Paratha, Sweet Lassi, and Phirni. This place is one of my favorite breakfast places not only in Amritsar, Punjab but also in India.
Check some must-do things off your Amritsar bucket list by heading to the Golden Temple and the Central Sikh Museum. I recommend heading to the Golden Temple from Brother’s Dhaba on foot to pass through the historic Statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or “Lion of Punjab”. He was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century.
Upon entering through the main gate, visitors are welcomed to the divine view of the Golden Temple surrounded by the sacred pool. Soak in the sacredness of the place, breathe the fresh air and take in the stunning views of this marvelous architectural feat.
Insider tip: The main temple complex is a two-story structure. So don’t miss the upper floors which are accessible through a narrow winding staircase. The golden domes and panoramic view are enough to compensate for that flight of stairs.
A trip to Amritsar isn’t complete without visiting Kesar Da Dhaba, which has been a popular spot in Amritsar since 1947. Its foundation was laid by Lt. Lala Kesar Mal and his wife Lt. Smt. Parvati in 1916 in Sheikhupura, Pakistan. Famous personalities like Lala Lajpat Rai used to visit the dhaba and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru used to have parcels of food delivered from this place. After partition, the dhaba was shifted to Amritsar.
Since then, their establishment has become a famous stop for tourists from all over the world. It’s just a 10-minute auto ride away from the Golden Temple and is very conveniently located. I recommend trying their Sarson ka Saag with Makke ki Roti and Sweet Lassi to satiate all your senses.
One of the most exciting things to do in Amritsar is shop till you drop. It is widely said that, it is a sin if you visit Amritsar and do not take a phulkari embroidered souvenir back home. This city is a shopper’s paradise for people who are interested in purchasing traditional clothes.
You can check out Katra Jaimal Singh Bazaar for a huge collection of Saris, Phulkari clothing, and Handicrafts. For budget shopping you can head to Lahori Gate Market where you’ll find a variety of shops specializing in Women’s clothing, Cotton suits, and Pashima shawls. Do not worry about having space in your luggage while shopping as most of these shops deliver your final stitched suits right to your home all across India.
Lastly, don’t forget to visit Hall Bazaar which is one of the oldest markets in Amritsar. Here you can purchase Lamps, Electronic gadgets, Ready-made clothes, Juttis and Phulkari dresses. I strongly recommend adding an Amritsari jutti to your collection as it is extremely comfortable and super chique.
To experience authentic Punjabi food and culture head to Haveli- Amritsar. The Haveli chain of restaurants has been successful in preserving Punjab’s rich heritage through their mouth-watering food, majestic ambiance, and unmatched hospitality since 2002. Having served millions of guests over two decades, this place is a must-visit foodie bucket list item.
While at Haveli, indulge yourself in some scrumptious Chole Bhature, Makke ki Roti with Sarson ka Saag, Chaat, Lassi, Phirni and really anything you’re craving as this place has it all. Nobody does Punjabi food better than Haveli. And in case you’re wondering why there are no photos of the food, its because I couldn’t resist myself from diving into all the yummy dishes.
Now I’m pretty sure you will end up eating a lot at Haveli and will have to go back to your hotel to deal with the food coma. Thus, I won’t suggest any additional activities after dinner.
I wasn’t expecting much from my Amritsar trip but this city completely astonished me. I fell in love with its rich history, breathtaking culture, warm-hearted people, and luscious food. I hope you see the city through my eyes and have a splendid time in one of my favorite cities in India.