Amritsar, homeland of the holy shrine of Golden Temple, is one of the most sacred and ancient cities of India. This is the reason as to why it often referred to as 'Golden City'. Amritsar holds a very significant role in the history and culture of Sikhism in the world. This stunning city is located in the northwestern part of India, in the Indian state of Punjab, just 25 km away from the Indo-Pakistan Border. The city is spread over an area of 5094 sq km, at an altitude of 218 m above the average sea level and has a semi-arid climate. It includes extreme hot and dry summers (April-June), cold winters (November-March) and moderate monsoon (July- September), with an average annual rainfall of 542 mm. The best time to visit this city is from the month of October to March. Being a major commercial, cultural, transportation and religious center of India, Amritsar is visited by thousands of visitors daily, including pilgrims (domestic & foreigners) and businessmen.

There are two school of thoughts when it comes to the history of Amritsar. One sect strongly believes that Amritsar existed during the Ramayan times. According to them, the city was the site of the ashram of Rishi Balmiki as well as the birth place of Lord Ram's sons - Luv and Kush. On the other hand, the people of the second sect believe that Amritsar was founded by Guru Ram Das Ji (fourth Sikh Guru) in the year 1574. At that time, it was known as Guru Da Chakk or Chakk Ram Das. After few years, in 1588 the foundation of Darbar Sahib (main hall of Harmandir Sahib) was laid by Sain Mian Mir Sahib. By 1601, Darbar Sahib was ready, while all the Sikh scriptures and Guru Granth Sahib were installed in it on 16, August 1604. Apart from the religious importance, the city has witnessed great historical events such as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919 under British Rule and the Operation Bluestar Massacre in 1984 during the rule of Indira Gandhi.

Amritsar derives its name from the name of the pool around the Golden Temple which means "holy pool of nectar". Amrit means 'nectar' and Sar (short of Sarovar) stands for 'pool' or 'lake', which when clubbed together forms Amritsar. Despite being a historic city, Amritsar boasts of all the modern facilities and conveniences. Everything, right from transportation and infrastructure to economy, is top notch. To serve various needs of the visitors, it possesses an excellent transport system that links it to the world. The major commercial activities of Amritsar are tourism, carpets and fabrics export, handicrafts, and agricultural crops. Exhibiting a glorious history and culture to the world, this city truly proves to be the jewel of Punjab and even India. Once here, don't miss a chance to visit some most revered and historical places like Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Akal Takht Sahib, Dhan Dhan Khalsa, Durgiana Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, and Wagah Border.

Best Time To Visit Amritsar: With a slew of attractions scattered all across the city lanes, the thriving city of Amritsar tots up as an amazing holiday destination for the globe-trotters. The world famous Golden Temple and the Amrit Sarovar surrounding

With a slew of attractions scattered all across the city lanes, the thriving city of Amritsar tots up as an amazing holiday destination for the globe-trotters. The world famous Golden Temple and the Amrit Sarovar surrounding the shrine attracts almost every tourist making a stopover at this place. Although the city is best known for its religious ardor, the vibrant traditions and culture of the place equally intrigues the visitors touring the land. Such is the charm of Amritsar. A visit to this place not only takes you through a spiritual ride but also reveals oodles about the bloodstained history of the place. A trip to this amazing city is indeed the best way to get up close to the shrines, monuments, folk arts and even yummy cuisines. To enjoy all these regional attractions, visiting the place at right time is very essential. To know more on best time to explore the authenticity of the Amritsar, go through the write-up below.

When To Go To Amritsar

Weather: Like all other cities in North Western India, Amritsar too experiences extreme climatic conditions. The summers here, lasting from April to June, remain extremely hot with temperature rising above 450C. Visiting the place during this season is not at all recommended. However, if you visit the place during summers, then take extreme precautions to save yourself from getting scorched down by the sun. The monsoons here, lasting from July to October, brings a welcoming relief from the sweaty and irritating summers. During this time, the city gets a fresh new look as it receives a good amount of rainfall. Although everything seems beautiful during monsoons, it isn't a favorable time to explore the city. The last season of the year, winter, extending from November to March is usually nippy with temperature fluctuating between 180C and 40C. Sometimes the temperature of the region falls below zero and can touch freezing levels of -40C.

Best Time To Explore Amritsar: Enjoy the genuine beauty of Amritsar by visiting the place anywhere between November and March, when the whole city seems to be swathed in an awesome climate. Away from the red hot irritating days and clumsy rainy seasons, a trip to this historical city during winters definitely makes for a memorable experience. Moreover, the number of religious festivals lined up during winters helps you get a glimpse of the traditions and culture of the people here. Among the noted festivals here, the Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrated during the months of October-November gets you up close to the customs and traditions of the city. Again in January, there is the Lohri festival that is celebrated with much pomp and show. Exploring the place from November to March surely promises to be an enriching experience.

Things To Do: When it comes to things to do, Amritsar definitely has a lot to offer to its tourists. The first thing that comes to the mind while thinking about Amritsar is the Golden Temple, the most popular pilgrimage destination for the Sikhs. Known for its divine power, Golden Temple serves as the pride of the country. Apart from this monumental temple, there are several gurudwaras and other shrines. Some of the noted tourists' spots such as Drugiana Temple, Ram Bagh, Mata Mandir and Jallian Wala Bagh make for a must-visit. Apart from sightseeing, there are number of shopping destinations to treat you with regional specialties such as woolens, rugs, dress materials, bags, bangles etc.

History Of Amritsar: A religious abode for the Sikhs and a political power house in the state, the turbulent history of Amritsar is tainted by the memories of several gory battles. Founded in the 14th century by Guru Ram Das, who initiated and spread

A religious abode for the Sikhs and a political power house in the state, the turbulent history of Amritsar is tainted by the memories of several gory battles. Founded in the 14th century by Guru Ram Das, who initiated and spread the teachings of Sikhism in the region, Amritsar has forever ranked high among the most revered cities in Punjab. The place was controlled and managed by the Sikh saints for long until the place was seized by the Mughal rulers. During the rule of the emperor Akbar, the place was said to be relatively peaceful but after his death the city came under severe religious and political tension caused by the following Muslim monarchs. Most of the wars that took place were instigated by the communal differences among the Muslim and the Sikh community. After the destruction of the Muslim rule in Amritsar, the city came under the dominance of the British officials and soon the city saw a lot of developments. However, during the Indian Partition, Amritsar was worst effected by communal violence. Read the article below to know more on the history of Amritsar.

Amritsar History

City's Origin: The history of Amritsar goes back to the year 1574 when the city first came to light. Guru Ram Das, one of the revered Sikh saints, bought the area from the village landlords. He soon made his domicile close to Amrit Sarovar, also known as 'Pool of Immortality' in Amritsar. The lake stands close to the famous Golden Temple from which the city's name was derived. During this period, the country was dominated by the powerful Mughal clan and historians believe that the place was purchased by Guru Ram Das from Akbar for 500 bighas. He not only laid down the foundation of the city but also was responsible in making Amritsar an important center for Sikhism. With time, many of Guru Ram Das's disciples came to reside in and around the city. The saint also planned to build a temple in the surrounding area that failed to take place. It was his son Guru Arjan Dev who brought forward his father's vision to reality. He not only helped in building the city but also founded other cities such as Taran Taran and Kartarpur. The Darbar Sahib is said to an important structure built during the reign of Guru Arjan Dev.

Muslim Rule: On the political front, the Muslim ruler Jahangir suppressed the city. Men and women were tortured and harassed by the Mughal emperor. Despite the intervention of Sant Mian Mir, he was unable to put a complete stop to their atrocities. Sant Mian Mir, on the other hand, was imprisoned in the Gwalior Fort for a brief period. Although on the political front Amritsar was experiencing a political unrest and instability, the city was developing as religious hub for Sikhism in Punjab. In 1602, Darbar Sahib was complete and four years later the earliest volume of the Guru Granth Sahib, a holy text of the scriptures was established inside the gurudwara. In 1606, when Guru Hargobind became the next Guru after the demise of his father, he was one of the most politically powerful saints. During his time, he earned a name for dealing with matters related to court justly and also encouraged his followers to always be prepared for warfare. Guru Hargobind excelled in a martial art form known as 'Shastarvidya' and maintained his own infantry. Amritsar, under the governance of Guru Hargobind, was attacked by the Mughal Emperors and in the years to come, the city only witnessed a strained relationship with the Muslim rulers.

Afghan Raids: In 1711 Bahadur Shah took over the city by placing Ajit Singh Palit in charge of the administration of the place. After the death of Bahadur Shah, the management of the city was passed on to several hands. Amritsar also faced internal conflicts between the Tat Khalsa and Bandai Khalsa. In 1757, Ahmad Shah Abdali demolished the Darbar Sahib and the Akal Takht that ended in a gory battle between the Afghan army and Baba Deep Singh. Amritsar was under constant raids by the Afghan warriors that led to several thousand deaths of Sikh families. In 1764, Jathedar Gurbaksh Singh and his small army of men defeated the powerful Afghan infantry.

Reconstruction Of Amritsar: From 1765 onwards, the city began to actively work on rebuilding its demolished monuments and shrines. During the beginning of the 18th century, the place underwent severe religious turmoil, which in turn brought about political changes. In 1765, the place saw several independent Sikh misls who controlled their respective localities that flourished under their particular heads. In the end of the 18th century, Amritsar became a developed prosperous business centre in the region. In 1799, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh declared himself as the future monarch of Punjab, he merged the place as a sovereign state. In the years to come, Ranjit Singh excelled in the field of military and the state economy. With a flourishing economy, the Maharaja also contributed vast amount of wealth to the Darbar Sahib and other shrines.

British India: After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1846, the British East Indian Company established Amritsar as a part of Lahore Darbar. In 1847, the English court specifically requested all British residents to follow the code of behavior while visiting the Sikh places of worship. From 1858 to 1913, the city under the administrative control of the British, witnessed several modernization plans in the infrastructure and educational sector. In 1919, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place in Amritsar. General Reginald Dyer ordered his men to open fire and killed several innocent men, women and children. The massacre was considered to be the worst in Indian history that brings back painful memories to the people of Amritsar. Lahore remained to be the initial capital of the state while Amritsar became a religious seat and an industrial centre.

Indian Independence: During Indian Independence, at the time of Partition in 1947, Amritsar became the battle field for the political difference between the National Congress and Muslim League. After the division, the state of Punjab was split up. Lahore became the capital of the Pakistan and Amritsar became the capital of the newly divided state. During this period, Amritsar and Lahore experienced the worst communal violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities.

How To Reach Amritsar: Home to the renowned Golden Temple and an abode to several saints who lived, preached and championed the causes of Sikhs, Amritsar is a popular tourist destination in the country.

Home to the renowned Golden Temple and an abode to several saints who lived, preached and championed the causes of Sikhs, Amritsar is a popular tourist destination in the country. Just like the Hindus who travel to Varanasi and the Muslims to Mecca, the Sikhs visit Amritsar to pay their homage to their 'Gurus'. Like all other cities in Punjab, Amritsar bustles with a mix of contagious energy, colorful landscape and the spiritual vibe that calms down the daily stress. The city has a buoyant atmosphere right from its robust friendly people, fertile mustard fields, colorful bazaars and its energetic festivals. If you have plans to visit Amritsar, then you must visit the place during the festival time, especially during Basant Panchami to experience the city's upbeat mood. Another reason to visit Amritsar during the festive seasons is to enjoy the delicious spread out of lip-smacking Punjabi cuisine and shake your leg to the thumping Bhangra beats. Take a look at the article below to know how to reach Amritsar and enjoy its extravagance.

Traveling To Amritsar

By Air: Amritsar's international airport, better known as Guru Ram Das Ji International Airport, provides regular domestic and international flights that makes regular stop over at the city. Air India, Jet Airways, JetLite and Kingfisher Airlines are some of the domestic air carriers that commute to the city regularly. Although there are regular flights to Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu, the city is also well-connected to other major metros in the country. As for the international travelers, there are frequent flights that connect Amritsar to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Yerevan, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Doha, Ashgabat, Tashkent, Sharjah and Toronto. The city being a religious centre in Punjab, tourists flock the city all the year around. Hence, there is no dearth of planes flying to this city.

By Train: Just like rest of India, Amritsar is also well-connected by railways. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore, Pune, Bhopal, Agra and Ahmadabad are connected to Amritsar by rail. The Amritsar Railway Station also has a train that commutes to Pakistan that was opened recently after bilateral peace talks between the two countries. Apart from this, Indian Railway system also has plans to introduce regular speed trains that commute to Delhi, Amritsar and Chandigarh. Commuting through train is a great way of experiencing country side landscape and to know its people up close.

By Road: Being a highly industrious city and a popular religious centre, Amritsar is well-connected by road. Amritsar is located on the Grand Trunk Road, which is also known as the National Highway 1 by the local authorities. The NH1 is said to connect Delhi to Amritsar, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Panipat and Sonipat. This highway is believed to be one of the oldest routes that also link Lahore to India. The Grand Trunk Road is likely to be converted into a four lane road soon to reduce traffic and travel time, an initiative by the local transport authorities.

Places To See In Amritsar: The sanctified land of the Sikhs, which is an abode to the world famous Golden Temple, the holiest sanctum sanctorum for the Sikhs, is a delightful place to go and unravel the splendors of the place.

The sanctified land of the Sikhs, which is an abode to the world famous Golden Temple, the holiest sanctum sanctorum for the Sikhs, is a delightful place to go and unravel the splendors of the place. Every year, millions of people throng to this holy city to take a look at the magnificent temple and tour the splendid city. Amritsar can be easily reached from any part of India since the city is well connected to all the major cities in the north. The local inhabitants predominantly speaking in Punjabi and Hindi are known for their friendly nature and generosity. If you are visiting in summer season, don't forget to gulp down on a chilled glass of butter-topped lassi that is available in almost all the shops. For compulsive shoppers, Amritsar offers a wide range of colorful knick-knacks, which are must-splurge items here. The picturesque spot, deeply rooted in rich tradition and culture, can be visited all through the year. Read further to know more about the top tourist attractions in Amritsar.

Tourist Attractions In Amritsar

Golden Temple: Golden Temple is indeed the holiest shrine and the biggest pride for the Sikhs. Also known as Harimandir Sahib or Sri Darbar Sahib, this gold plated temple sits elegantly on the lake of Amrit Sarovar. The temple entrance is punctuated by 4 doorways and the gorgeous shrine houses several other small temples. Though visitors are not charged any entrance fees, it's compulsory for them to remove their shoes and cover their heads with scarves before entering the divine premise.

Jallianwala Bagh: Jallianwala Bagh, situated close to the Golden temple, takes you back to the massacre of 1919, the year when thousands of Indians became hapless victims to the merciless killings that is considered to be one of the most horrible in the history of Indian freedom struggle. To commemorate those innocent victims, a memorial has been constructed at the site where the cruel incident took place. You can see a portion of the wall dotted with pellet marks and a martyr well. Jalianwala Bagh can be easily reached from the main city as there are many buses and rickshaws plying to the place.

Durgiana Mandir: Besides Golden Temple, Durgiana Mandir dedicated to Goddess Durga is another famous and most frequently visited tourist spot in Amritsar. Also referred to as Shree Durgiana Tirath or Sitla Mandir, the shrine is situated just outside the Lohgarh Gate. The striking architecture is similar to that of Golden temple and is both fascinating and unique. Durgiana Temple, setup amidst beautiful tank, houses wonderful paintings of Goddess Durga and various idols of other deities.

Wagah Border: Wagah Border, the name often surfacing on television channels and in newspapers, is an international borderline between India and Pakistan. Situated 26 km off Amritsar, the place is flanked by buildings, roads and barriers to mark both sides of the border. Evenings are pleasant and during this time, you can witness the vibrant retreat ceremony known as the 'lowering of the flags'. During this observance, you can see Pakistan Rangers Soldiers and Border Security Force of India march down the alley.

Rambagh Gardens: The enchanting Rambagh Gardens was once the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab. Within the park, there is a museum that is a must-visit attraction of this place. Once you step inside the museum, you can see fascinating weapons that dates back to Mughal times, a replica of the diamond 'Kohinoor', paintings, manuscripts and many more other attractions. The garden also houses a magnificent statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh sitting on a horse. Visitors need to pay an entry fee of Rs. 10/- to get inside the tourism spot and explore the architectural marvel. Rambagh Gardens located in the new part of the town can be easily accessed from any part of Amritsar.

Shopping In Amritsar: The ever-bustling city of Amritsar, better deemed as the Mecca of the Sikhs, apart from being the holy abode to 'Harmandir Sahib' or the Golden Temple, is equally a big-name for its dazzling culture,

The ever-bustling city of Amritsar, better deemed as the Mecca of the Sikhs, apart from being the holy abode to 'Harmandir Sahib' or the Golden Temple, is equally a big-name for its dazzling culture, vibrant festivities, thumping bhangra beats, finger-licking food, luscious lassis and lot's more. Although Amritsar cannot be tagged as a shopper's paradise, it nevertheless boasts of a plethora of goodies that cannot be bought from anywhere else. The teeming market lanes, glutted with shops selling exquisite 'durries', 'juttis', 'phulkaris', 'parandis', 'warian' and more, is a binge-treat for every shopaholic. What's more, the small shops put up near the Golden Temple are chockablock with lovely keepsakes and religious paraphernalia that are an absolute must-buy item here. Some of the other noted shopping destinations worth visiting are Kapda Bazaar, Mishri Bazaar, and Hall Bazaar among others. Read on to get a complete insight on the famous shopping places in Amritsar.

Shopping Places In Amritsar

Hall Bazaar: Hall Bazaar, one of the important shopping destinations in Amritsar, is a must-stop place for every curious shopper. From gadgets and gizmos to funky accessories to local handicrafts and more, this colorful bazaar promises a great experience to the shoppers. However, the major USP of this bustling bazaar is the fancy Chinese lamps and Pakistani juttis that are absolute must-splurge items of the place. What's more, if you feel famished after a day-long shopping spree, just head over to the nearby Mahajan Refreshment House that sells pure milk kulfis and falooda.

Guru Bazar: Guru Bazar, an age-old market, which has been in existence since time immemorial, has a wonderful assortment of silver and gold ornaments. This lane, sandwiched between Guru Ka Mahal and Golden Temple, has more than 2,500 shops. Women especially flock here to buy traditional jewelry and ornaments made out of precious and semi-precious stones. Besides jewelry, you can also find vendors selling gorgeous silver diyas, earthen lamps, idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi, etc.

Katra Jaimal Singh Market: Katra Jaimal Singh Market that is located close to Hall Bazaar is famous for its apparels. The market has a valuable collection of pashminas, saris, beaded dresses, wedding suits for men, designer shirts and ties, woodwork jewelry and handicraft items. Since the garments here are reasonably priced, people flock here to buy clothes in bulk.

Kapda Bazaar: Kapda Bazaar whose literal meaning means 'Clothes Market' is one place that bustles with buyers all the time. Situated near Town hall, the place buzzes with teenage girls and old ladies who are on a hunt for eye-catching apparels and jewelry. The shops are loaded with earrings, bindis, bracelets, Patiala suits, bangles, etc. Though mornings are thronged, it is during evenings when lovely ladies step out of their houses and hit this market in huge numbers.

Mishri Bazaar: This is the right place to halt over to buy dry fruits of different types. The vendors here claim that some of the varieties of dry fruits are flown from Afghanistan. During the time of auspicious occasions like marriages and other related functions, the sale of dry fruits peaks high.

Papad-Warian Bazaar: All papad (crispies or crackers) lovers must hit this bazaar that is laced with the rich aroma of papad and warian (made from pulses). Bags filled with fresh home-made papad and warian lures the tourists to buy and store them in their kitchens. Another good place to head out to buy Amritsari papads is Manjith Mandi. Not just foodies, even other local people and tourists come here to check out the wide range of papads.