Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

Why You Should Visit The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

Derek India 56 Comments

Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

Why don’t more foreigners visit the city of Amritsar during their travels around India? This is a question that I have yet to understand as, in my opinion, this one city, which is located some 450 kilometers (270 miles) northwest of Delhi, close to the border with Pakistan, offers an experience that is difficult to match anywhere else in the country.

Once in Amritsar, just walk through the main entrance of the Golden Temple – the holiest temple for the Sikh religion – and try not to be blown away by the structure before you. And try not to be blown away by the beautiful mix of colors all around you as well, by the traditional music being played over the entire complex and by the happy and friendly Indians strolling along the marble walkway that surrounds the main temple, locals who are typically from the countryside and who have rarely, if ever, seen a foreigner.

These locals will ask to take photos with you, their children will shake your hand, conversations will be had and smiles will constantly be exchanged. You will feel like a celebrity and you won’t want the experience to come to an end.

Group at Golden Temple

Golden Temple, Amritsar

Luckily, you can spend hours inside the Golden Temple without ever getting bored of the unique atmosphere, the nonstop interactions and the awe-inspiring golden shrine that sticks out into the middle of the man-made lake. You can even eat a free meal at the langar (pilgrimage dining hall) and you can also spend a night or two at one of the temple’s gurdwaras (pilgrim guesthouses).

The temple is open twenty-four hours per day and part of the highlight is seeing the complex in different shades of light and with different crowds inside, which range from thousands upon thousands of pilgrims filling up the interior to just a handful of people sitting around enjoying the peace and quiet in the late night and early morning hours.

Golden Temple, Amritsar - at night

Punjabi man at Golden Temple

Women at Golden Temple

Despite being a little out of the way when compared to other destinations in India, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything but positive stories from travelers who do make the trip to Amritsar. And that is why I have visited this destination myself on almost all of my trips to India over the years and why I made sure to include this city on my current Welcome to India tour itinerary as well.

It’s also why I encourage you to make the trip to Amritsar and the Golden Temple during your own Indian adventure, whenever that trip may be!


Have you been to Amritsar? How was your experience? If you haven’t been, what do you think?

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Comments 56

  1. Chandra

    I visited the Golden temple last year for the first time. Have already planned to visit again this year. I felt this urge to touch and feel this place of so much significance to the people. It has special powers for the believers and I am so impressed by the enormity of the crowd that is continually visiting this shrine.

  2. Jatinder Dhaliwal

    Nice pics. I was born in Punjab but never had chance to visit Golden Temple. Till recently. I felt emotional and felt at peace with myself during my first visit. It’s hard to describe feeling. Tears rolled down my eyes..

    1. Bal Khaira

      Same over here brother. Born and raised in Canada. As I approached Sri Harmandar shaib I started shaking and to your point tears rolled down my eyes. I can’t explain it…you have to see it to believe it

  3. Gary

    Earl,

    I am now glad I read your post and went back to the temple this afternoon…everything you said is so true…immensely different from the impression I got last night. Just to wander around the sacred lake was fantastic…happier now!!

    🙂 Gary

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gary – Glad to hear that because it really is a spectacular place! Hope you’re enjoying the rest of the end of your India stay.

  4. Gary

    Hi Earl….visited the temple last night and will go there again this morning. The spectacle is enthralling but last night (perhaps because it was a special day) the temple was festooned with gaudy flashing lights and looked more like a Las Vegas façade hotel than the iconic temple I had hoped to see…took the edge off the experience I’m afraid but I am keeping positive that the visit later will be rewarding. The border trip is a MUST though too.

    Cheers

    Gary

  5. M

    That last photo if the women in their many colored scarves is so beautiful! Have you ever thought of doing things with your photos, such as blowing them up and selling them, or making cards out of them, etc. ?
    The colors are one of the main reasons I would like to visit India. When I see photos like this, my jaw drops.
    This place sounds ideal! I am not into crowds, but if I were being treated like a rock star by the crowds, I might change my tune! 😉

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey M – I’ve thought of it but just don’t have the time at the moment to organize something like that. I’ll get to it eventually I hope. And yes, even those who don’t like crowds, will love their time at the Golden Temple!

  6. Rhyma

    I went to the Golden Temple earlier this year and the first time I saw it was at night. I think its at its most magnificent at night. THe entire temple complex is so serene. When I went back the next morning, it just paled in comparison to my memory of the previous night.
    That night was the most memorable night from my entire trip. Maybe it had something to do about the way it looked that night, basking in its own glow. Always makes me drift off 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rhyma – That’s so nice to hear and I do agree, the temple at night is simply unbelievable and far more impressive than during the day.

  7. CupcakeGirl

    This is a very informative piece of text; it has proved very useful when researching the Temple for H/W. It sounds like a beautiful place.

  8. Ryan @Treksplorer

    I’ve seen this temple on numerous movies and TV shows (I actually think the Simpsons visited it when they went to India!) but I really had no idea where it was in India. It’s certainly on my radar now. Thanks for introducing us to such an an amazing (and relatively unknown) place, Earl!

  9. Addison S

    The Golden Temple was easily one my biggest highlights in India – I could spend hours sat by the water listening to the hypnotic Gurmukhi chanting. Amritsar has a lot to offer outside the temple as well – namely Jalianwala Bagh memorial park, Chor Bazaar and, of course, the Monty Python-esque show at the Indian-Pakistan border.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Addison – For those that do venture to this corner of India, the Golden Temple often proves to be a major highlight. And yes, that border ceremony is quite a bizarre event!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Maria – As soon as you step inside, you enter an entirely new world, one that is just a nonstop barrage of colors and smiles 🙂

  10. Red Hunt

    Super photos….I keep telling myself I’m not interested in India, but then I see cool places like this temple and all of the great, vibrant colours that seem to be everywhere in India and I start to change my mind…I’m sure I’ll get there one day!

    1. Wandering Earl

      @Red Hunt – India can be a hard place to ignore…it’s not for everyone of course but there is something magical about this country that does attract the attention of many people!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Clay – It’s a very colorful place with all of those saris the women are wearing. And on the crowded days, it’s really just one huge sea of color.

  11. David @ That Gay Backpacker

    You had me at ‘free meal’. Oh, and it looks spectacular!

    I read somewhere that you can volunteer to wash the dishes from the free meals. Why do I find that idea so appealing? I hate washing dishes at home! The magic of India I guess 😉

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey David – The dishwashing operation is impressive. There is over 100 people constantly washing dishes in these huge sinks outside. You can definitely volunteer to help out and I’m sure it would be quite an experience to do so.

    2. Jatinder Dhaliwal

      yes, Gurdwara is mostly run by volunteers, preparing food, cleaning utensils and serving. Same goes for cleaning Gurdwara. Sharing and treating every one equal are just one of the basics tenets of Sikhi

  12. Ellen

    It looks amazing! I’ve been to India twice but had never heard of this place. I can’t imagine why it isn’t one every list of “must see” in India.

  13. Christian Rene Friborg

    This sounds like a great place. Will add to the places that I would like to visit once I’ve found the time (and resources) to do so.

  14. Expat Evan

    Hi Earl,

    First, great writeup. The Golden Temple is definitely one of the top spots in India – it was by far one of the best experiences I had in India. Once you step inside the area around the temple is so peaceful. It’s really somewhere you could actually spend an entire afternoon.

    I found Indian very friendly – at least the ones who weren’t trying to con me – and Amritsar had some of the friendliest people I met on my trip. Just a great experience.

    A while ago I wrote a post on my experiences there – I thought you might like it.

    http://evanbleker.com/backpacking-through-india/

    Keep up the great work!

    Evan

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Evan – Not only can you spend an entire afternoon inside but a person could easily fill up a couple of days with several visits to the temple. Visiting in the early morning, in the afternoon and late at night all offers different experiences!

  15. Preeti

    Earl, I would normally never correct you but the “pilgrimage dinning hall” is called the “langar”. It means free kitchen and is open to all who want a warm place to sit and have a meal.

    I spent the first 9 years of my life going to the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) every Saturday. It is one of my favorite places in the world.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Preeti – Thanks for the correction, although it’s funny because I got the spelling from an Indian friend of mine who wrote it “longan”!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Shalu – I’m sure your second visit will be wonderful and I agree that visitors to North India should definitely include Amritsar in their itinerary.

  16. Daniel Holl

    Great post! Tips like this are the reason why I subscribed 🙂 When I come around India I’ll make sure to pay it a visit.

  17. George Bezushko

    Earl, I couldn’t agree with you more! Aside from seeing bullet holes in the buildings from the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, a chance to understand the Sikh religion first hand, and maybe talk to people about Punjab pop music, Amritsar is a natural base from which to travel to the India-Pakistan border to watch the flamboyant changing of the guard and nightly closing of the border between the two countries – an experience I could not have imagined! Amritsar is wonder-ful place!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey George – That border ceremony sure is an interesting experience and definitely another good reason for travelers to make it out this way!

      1. Lakhwinder singh

        hey earl,very good to hear abt golden temple,i m frm Punjab state I wana share abt free kitchen where u can eat free food ,setting on floor in row ,in Sikh religion its mean everyone equal in this temple may be next of u setting person millionaire or a labour class or any race of the world, are equal there,nowa day about 100000(one lac) people eat free food in every day,there r foue entry from east,west,north and south its mean its door open for everyone,its also satuated more than 15 feets from outside lavels its also massage us to live down to earth.

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