Amritsar, in the heart of Punjab is the holiest city for Sikh community and houses the most sacred Golden Temple. The shimmering temple is surrounded by a man made lake and has over 100 kgs of gold added in 1830, giving it the name – Golden Temple. The temple is visited by over 100,000 pilgrims and tourists both from all over the world belonging to different faiths and nationalities. The inner sanctum houses the Guru Granth Sahib – Sikh’s holy scripture, from which the prayers are chanted rhythmically and as the worshippers pay their respect. The holy book is ‘Put to Bed’ in an atmospheric ceremony every evening. The temple complex is large and has a museum, library and an institute for research. The tank surrounding the temple is supposed to have healing properties and one can see pilgrims bathing in the water.
The ’langar’ or the community kitchen at the Golden Temple is perhaps world’s largest community kitchen that feeds over 100.000 people 24 hours every day irrespective of religion, caste, class & nationality etc. The kitchen is completely run by volunteers and everybody is welcome to eat in the dining hall along with other visitors. Visitors can volunteer in the dining hall to serve or even in the kitchen where huge amounts of food is cooked in large containers and chapattis are rolled by friendly and smiling pilgrims. One can expect the place full of people from all faith and nationalities making the temple complex one of the friendliest place in India.
Beyond the Golden Temple lies the heritage city west of Shimla and serves as an excellent base to start a journey into Himalaya. The old city is almost 400 year old and the narrow lanes have some really intricately carved wooden facades. The walled city of Amritsar makes for an interesting and easy paced walking tour to explore some of the hidden gems of the city such as old temples, akharas, and, arguably, the first-ever Amritsar Shopping Mall! One can taste & learn the traditional ways of preparing some of Amritsar’s most popular breakfast items, street food, and sweets.
The days in Amritsar usually end with a trip to the India-Pakistan border post at Wagah. Here the beating retreat ceremony is held every afternoon. The atmosphere is quite passionate and patriotic, as soldiers from each side takes turns to lower their flags in an attempt to outdo the other. All this while spectators from both sides cheers the guards with their nationalist slogans shouted at high volumes!
Suggested Holidays With Amritsar & Golden Temple
This wonderful itinerary travels through the foothills of Himalaya. Start in the frontier city of Amritsar which is the epicentre of Sikh religion with the stunning Golden Temple, the tour ends in the Summer Capital of Shimla. On the way stop in the Tibetan settlement of Mcleod Ganj and picturesque Dharashala, home to the exiled Dalai Lama. Travel further into Kangra valley to explore the heritage of Pragpur before spending last few days in Shimla to experience the 'Toy Train'.
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