Amritsar

Sikh pilgrim at the Golden Temple

Amritsar (ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ) is a holy city in the state of Punjab, India.

Understand

The name Amritsar name derives from the pool around the Golden Temple (aka Harmandir Sahib) and means "holy pool of nectar" (Amrit elixir; Sar, short for sarovar which means "lake"). Amritsar is one of the largest cities of the Indian state of Punjab and is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. Sikhs are rightfully very proud of the city and their very beautiful and unique Gurdwara (place of worship), the Golden Temple. Amritsar is today a major pilgrimage center for Sikhs and a tourism center for anyone.

History

Amritsar is known mainly for its Golden Temple which was initiated by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru and the founder of the city, and completed in 1601 by his successor Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 19.4 21.6 26.5 33.8 38.7 39.4 35.0 34.2 34.5 32.3 27.1 21.3
Nightly lows (°C) 3.7 6.0 10.9 16.3 21.1 24.6 25.3 25.1 22.2 15.1 8.7 4.4
Precipitation (mm) 24 33 48 29 25 62 231 187 79 18 6 18

Source:w:Amritsar#Geography_and_climate

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre or Amritsar massacre occurred in 1919. The area where this occurred was a large, open square but walled in on all sides. British troops opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators, and a large number were killed the British said 370 dead and 1,200 wounded but Indian sources say the total was well over 1,000 dead. Some of the victims were in fact demonstrating, protesting against the arrest of two political activists, while others were gathered to celebrate the traditional festival of Baisakhi. Not all died directly due to British fire; many were trampled in the stampede to escape and others died diving down a well to avoid the bullets. Today the well is a rather grisly tourist attraction and bullet holes are still visible in walls around the area.

The massacre news spread quickly all over the country caused widespread outrage and additional demonstrations as it stunned the entire sub-continent. Eventually, the public lost faith in Britishers and subsequently, this massacre initiated the "Non-cooperation movement" led by led by the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. It is considered a significant phase of the Indian independence movement from British rule.

It also had a tremendous effect in the UK, with many of the more liberal British appalled by it while others thought it necessary. A commission investigated and concluded that "General Dyer thought he had crushed the rebellion and Sir Michael O'Dwyer was of the same view, ... (but) there was no rebellion which required to be crushed." Dyer was in command on the spot and O'Dwyer the provincial governor.

During partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, the Punjab region was divided between India and Pakistan near Amritsar. Pakistan wanted to annex Amritsar due to its close proximity with Lahore and 50% Muslim population; however, the city remained inside Indian territory. Similarly, India wanted to annex Lahore. Both of the cities experienced some of the worst communal riots during the partition. Mass evacuations were made both in Amritsar and in Lahore. Hence, the demographics of both the cities were changed following the partition, significantly altering the culture and affecting the political, economic and social environment of the cities.

In June 1984, an Indian military operation ordered by then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, was launched in the city to remove a few hundred Sikh militants who had taken control of the Golden Temple compound. After a few hundred people were killed during the 5-day siege, thousands of civilians were killed throughout the country in the aftermath.

Get in

The best time to visit Amritsar is during winter, especially between month of October and March.

By plane

To/from airport

Taxi drivers wait outside the arrivals gate for visitors. For a trip into town, even the prepaid taxi can be bargained down with the drivers to ₹300 from initially ridiculous prices of ₹550 a person (as of March 2014) before you pay, but there is a significant dearth of official taxis or even auto-rickshaws, so prepare for a hard time. Also, be aware that if you are staying near the Golden Temple, there is a zone around it which prohibits automotive vehicles. Though not stringently applied, the streets do get very narrow, and you will probably end up making the last ten minutes of the trip on foot.

By train

Here are some useful trains to get to Amritsar:

Train Number Train Name You may board at You may alight at
12013 Shatabdi Express New Delhi, Ludhiana, Jalandha Amritsar (449 km)
12029 Shatabdi Express New Delhi, Ludhiana, Jalandha Amritsar
12497 Shan-e-Punjab Express New Delhi Amritsar (448 km in 7 hours 40 mins)
12903 Golden Temple Mail Mumbai Central, Kota, Nizamuddin (Delhi) Amritsar (1891 km in 32 hours 15 mins)
12925 Paschim Express Bandra Terminus (Mumbai), Vadodara, New Delhi Amritsar (32 hours)
12317 Akal Takht Express Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Patna Amritsar
13005 Howrah-Amritsar Mail Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Lucknow, Patna Amritsar
12053 Jan Shatabdi Express Haridwar, Saharanpur Junction, Ambala Cantonment Junction, Ludhiana Amritsar (407 km, seven and half hours)
18102 Muri Express Jammu, Pathankot Junction Amritsar

Also see Rail travel in India

By bus

By car

Long-distance taxis are available from most places. It takes around 6–7 hours from New Delhi via NH-1.

Amritsar is well-connected by bus to most major cities and the northern areas within a days drive. Pathankot is about 2.5 hours away and about 100 km away, JALANDHAR is about 80 km from here, KAPURTHALA (royal city) is about 65 km from here and there are daily direct buses to New Delhi, Jammu, Katra, Chandigarh, Dharamsala (once daily, ~6 hours), etc.You can find Volvo buses from Chandigarh, Delhi and Katra to Amritsar.

From Pakistan

If coming from Wagah at the Pakistani border, take a cycle-rickshaw (₹15, 3 km) to the Attari station, where you can catch a local bus to Amritsar (₹20, 25 km).

Taxis also use this route and charge around ₹200 for the entire journey.

Get around

By bus

By auto-rickshaw

By car

If you have your own car to get around Amritsar then simply confirm the directions with a local guide. In case you don't have your own car then there are several travel agencies that can offer you the car of your choice.

Renting a car is less time consuming and affordable. Experienced car drivers know all the shortcuts within the city and will take you to the best hotel or restaurant. Never pay the entire fare to the car agent in advance and don't leave expensive luggage in your car whenever you are visiting a site.

See

Golden Temple

The Golden Temple at night
Pilgrims bathing in the Amrit Sarovar
Darbar Sahib, Golden Temple Complex

Other

Jallianwala Bagh, with bullet holes visible on the walls

Further afield

Wagah Border, Checkpoint of India-Pakistan

Do

Learn

Buy

Sikh khandas displayed prominently on an exaggerated turban

There are bustling bazaars with a huge variety from embriodried phulkari dupattas to famous papad wariyan. The markets offer a wide range of products like carpets, bangles, shawls and wollen textiles and punjabi juttis (traditional footwear).

Eat

Amritsar, Shopping street

There are very few decent non-veg eateries near the temple complex.

Drink

Lassi is a popular and traditional yogurt-based drink which originates in the Punjab region. It is made by blending yogurt with water and Indian spices. Traditional lassi (also known as salted lassi, or, simply lassi) is a savory drink sometimes flavored with ground roasted cumin while sweet lassi on the other hand is blended with sugar or fruits instead of spices.

Bars & Lounge

Sleep

Budget

Global Institutes' Main Building
Khalsa College, Amritsar (1892)

Mid-range

Amritsar, Transporting
Amritsar, Roadside market
Statue of general Sham Singh Attariwala
Guru Nanak Dev University, Library building

Splurge

Festival in Amritsar

Stay safe

Behave!

Respect

Connect

Post Office

Internet

There are quite a few good internet surfing facilities in Amritsar. Reliance WebWorld and Sify Internet kiosks are located at strategic locations.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, January 21, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.