Amritsar, literally Pool of Nectar, derives its name from Amrit
Sarovar, the holy tank that surrounds the fabulous Golden
Temple. First time visitors to Amritsar could be forgiven for
the imression that Amritsar is like any other small town in
northern India. In one sense, it is - with bustling markets,
haphazard traffic, unyielding cattle, crowds and congestion
typical of small town India. But Amritsar stands head and
shoulders above any other city, its status elevated and
sanctified by the presence of the venerable Golden Temple.
Amritsar the religious and cultural capital of the land of five
rivers (Punjab) is a city always drenched in festal mood, the
fragrance from the mother earth carries drums and dance on its
wings and is ever eager to extend to its visitors a warm
welcome. International Brotherhood is an inborn feature of
Amritsar citizens, love flows naturally for visitors from all
directions belonging to any religion, caste, race, creed and
sex. It is open to all. Hospitality to visitors is part of the
Punjab's culture. True to the spirit.
Located in the heart of Amritsar, the temple complex is
surrounded by a maze of narrow lanes, or katras, that house one
of the busiest markets in India. But the Golden Temple is a
serene presence, radiating a calm that makes people bow their
heads in reverence. The gurudwara, as Sikh temples are called,
is the holiest of Sikh shrines. It is not just Sikhs who travel
to the Golden Temple to pay homage, the sacred shrine is equally
revered by Hindus and people of other faiths who, too, make the
pilgrimage to offers prayers at Harmandir Sahib.
There's more to Amritsar than that - amongst other sights is
Jallianwala Bagh, site of the gruesome massacre of unarmed
Indians by British troops. A major tourist attraction these days
is the Indo-Pakistan border crossing at Wagah, just a short
distance from Amritsar, with its elaborate change-of-guards
drill with a lot of strutting and intimidatory showing off by
If you are 'doing' north India, Amritsar is a city you should
not miss. It's easy to travel there from Delhi by road and by
rail. It is easy to navigate through the city; few guides bother
you as tourism is not the most important commercial activity
here. Ask them in Amritsar, and they will tell you that if for
nothing else you must travel here for the roadside chhola -
Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, is well connected by air with
New Delhi. Indian Airlines and Vayudoot operate regular flights.
Rail: Buses ply quite frequently between Chandigarh and
New Delhi ( 250 km ), and the trip takes about five hours.
Road: The superfast Shatabdi Express runs daily between
Chandigarh and New Delhi.