One of the largest cities in Punjab and the spiritual and cultural home for Sikhism, we loved visiting Amristar. As soon as we left the airport, it felt different from the other Indian cities we’ve visited so far – nice different. The speakers scattered around the city playing continuous Punjabi chants put you immediately at ease, and we were ready to explore!
Here is what we got up to with 24 hours in Amristar!
4am – 7am: Golden Temple
No words or pictures can do this holy shrine justice. We were practically speechless when we first saw the golden reflection of the temple glistening in the holy water under the full moon. The 3:30am start was 100% worth it – it’s considered to be the most peaceful and quietest time to visit and you get to be part of the beautiful morning ceremonies. The temple is also home to many volunteers cooking free meals for the thousands of visitors who come every day; an act of kindness we can all get inspiration from!
7am – 8am: Breakfast
The one must-have dish in Amristar is the Amritsar Kulcha, which is spicy potato stuffed in buttery naan bread – delish!!!
Hmmm this picture doesn’t do the taste justice!
9am – 12pm: Heritage Walking Tour
Fantastic introduction to Amristar! Ever since the city was founded in 1574, it has faced many ups and downs, and this history became increasingly visible as we explored more and more of the old city. We listened to heartwarming stories about the formation of Sikhism, the greatest leaders of the past, the economic and political turmoil after the partition, the efforts in trying to form a self-sustaining community, the ever-changing relationship with Lahore, the 1919 massacre and most recently the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. We left with the upmost respect and admiration for the people living in Amristar!
12pm – 1pm: Jallianwala Bagh
After the walking tour had already pumped us up with emotion, we were very sad to be visiting this park that commemorates the ~1000 Indians who were killed and wounded by Colonel Reginald Dyer. You can still see the deep bullet marks on the brick walls and the meters-deep well that people jumped in to try and save themselves. As heart-warming and emotional this experience was, it wasn’t long before we realised that locals use this park as an actual park as well as a memorial so it wasn’t all doom and gloom with selfies and laughter surrounding us. We payed our respects, but it didn’t feel appropriate to blend in with the fun.
1pm – 2:30pm: Partition Museum
The partition of India was one of the most defining moments in the nation’s history, and with Amritsar right on the border of Pakistan, it is arguably one of the most impacted cities. After the India/Pakistan border was designed in a mere five weeks, millions rapidly migrated in both direction, and each room told a story of the different hardships that were faced – the loss of lives, culture, stability, heritage, family and homes. This was an extremely educational, emotional and eye-opening visit!
No pictures were allowed inside the museum…
We stopped off at Balle Balle Dhaba for the the next must-try dish in Punjab – the Punjabi Samosa. Amazing!!
3:30pm – 6:00pm: Wagah Border
After the historical day we’d been having, Wagah Border (the India/Pakistan border) was the cherry on top. Every evening at sunset, the Indian and Pakistani soldiers do a parade – and of course we had to watch! You’ve got the most patriotic Bollywood tunes playing in the background, crowds waving flags and chanting, and the army officers marching with high enthusiasm for their country. So much fun, and probably the most patriotic we have ever felt with the Indian flag painted on our faces!
We stopped off at the recommended Crystal restaurant for some authentic Punjabi food. Having been in India for a couple of weeks already, let’s just say this was another great Paneer and Chicken curry meal!
Now time to visit Rishikesh…!