If there is a city that I would visit again then it would be Amritsar. The narrow lanes retaining the old charm, the huge glass of lassi, the museums filled with history and the old forts and buildings. You can just walk around and something or the other comes around the corner. Amritsar is synonymous to the Golden Temple. Nothing can beat the serenity of this place. While I can spend a whole day and night at the Golden temple, there are many other offbeat places at Amritsar that I visited apart from the Golden Temple. And if you can drive around Amritsar there are some more places to explore. So here is a list of places to visit in Amritsar apart from the Golden Temple.
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This is a temple constructed similar to the Golden temple. It is dedicated to Goddess Durga and hence called Durgiana. But there are other shrines too for Vishnu, Krishna, and Sita Devi. There is a place called Valmiki
On the way to the Golden Temple comes the brick wall that states Jallianwala Bagh. As you walk through the narrow path leading to the open grounds, a chill runs through you invariably. To realize that this is the way General Dyer walked in and locked up the entrance, to feel that there were thousands of people assembled here and they were all massacred!! There is no fun in visiting this place. There are gunshots on the wall. There are blood stains on windows and the well into which most of them jumped to avoid the shooting. And it stirs you. The fight that they had gone through to get freedom! It is not an easy place to visit. There is a museum along with the garden. The garden has a memorial and Amara Jyothi (the fire that does not extinguish) is lit. Offer your prayers before heading out.
Coming from South India I have never visibly seen the pain of partition. And we have not even had elders to talk about that. Max to
The partition museum is at the town hall, at walkable distance from the Golden Temple. It is closed on Mondays and opened on the rest of the days. The museum is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Partition Museum is a must visit of all the museums found in Amritsar.
Gobindgarh fort was full of surprises and a lot fun. It is not a mammoth fort as such but they have made it fun to keep the tourists occupied. It is a mud or red brick fort. The entrance looks plain and the fort is hidden behind. Visit the fort in the evening and get tickets for 7D show and the laser show, totally worth it. The fort is also called as Bhangian da Killa and it was built by a local chieftain called Gujar Singh Bhangi. The canons flank the bastions and a moat runs around the fort. The fort has a darbar hall, a bungalow, and other miscellaneous stuff like room to store ammunition, water, the stock of groceries, etc.
Most of these are now converted into museums. The Warfare museum depicts the weapons used, silicon sculptures of Sikh people depicting the use of weapons and art of Punjab. The silicon statues are so real and a job well done. From depicting dance forms to the life of people and about the Nihang, this museum was very well organized. Just below this is Toshakhana which means coin museum. Apparently Kohinoor diamond was housed in this Gobindgarh fort and in this very room, so a replica is now placed in its place.
Visit Gobindgarh fort in the evening around 5ish. By evening they start the
Valmiki Tirath is about 20 km away from the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Also called Ram Tirath, this is where Valmiki ashram was and Sita Devi is said to have spent her last days here. Throughout India there are many places cited as where Lava and Kusha were born and so is here. Like the temple structures of Punjab, there is a sacred lake and in the middle stands the Valmiki Tirath. It is a fairly new structure, so it looks modern and the hall has the statue of Valmiki to offer our prayers.
The actual Valmiki ashram is old and a little behind. This is also the place where Valmiki wrote Ramayanam. Within the complex is a small cave-like place where the sage sat, lived and wrote the masterpiece. There is a place which states this is where Sita Devi and Lava Kusha used to take bath. And if you know about Ramayana, you will be aware of the battle between Lava Kusha and Ram because Lava Kusha ties up the Ashwamedha horse to a tree. So there is a tree here that is revered as the tree to which the horse was tied up. It is a historical and religious place to visit.
Sarai Amanat Khan
You need a vehicle to visit Sarai Amanat Khan, it is a place for the history buffs. It is about 30 km away from Amritsar but you can plan this place
There are two huge gateways Lahori Darwaza and Dilli Darwaza that opens into the courtyard. A half sunk building which I presume is the Mosque. A stable and then a well as well. Around the place looks like fort walls. What is surprising to see is that the colored tiles on the building are still intact!! They can pay a little more attention and make it a gated place and promote tourism. I had hired a cab for the entire day and google map kind of helped me reach here.
A place very close to the border and would keep history buffs happy. Pul Kanjari is about the love story between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Moran Sarkar, hence this place is also called
The border with Pakistan runs close to
Pul Kanjari War Memorial
Just around the corner of
Tarn Taran Sahib
While I was at Gobindgarh fort, one of the travelers mentioned about Tarn Taran Sahib and if I have time I should visit it. I promptly added it to my tour and I clubbed this along with Sarai Amanat Khan and Pul Kanjari. You must visit too, just to see that holy tank! And I mean it. It is the world’s biggest Sarovar and it was built way back in the 1700s. Can you imagine that? I couldn’t get the whole thing in one frame. It was like a river trapped in with few corners, it was not like a pond or tank. I was pressed with the time that I couldn’t do a complete walk around the Sarovar. The Gurudwara has gold plated on the walls of it. Not like the Golden temple but a portion of it, making it look so bright and glittery. The best thing, however, is the inside, the sanctum sanctorum. The interior walls and the ceiling have the best and best of the designs, stuccos, murals, paintings, like everything. I stood there watching at the interiors for a while. Such bright colors and they were very much intact that I have not seen in any other Gurudwara. The most beautiful Gurudwara of the lot that I had visited. Do watch the video to feel the enormity of the Sarovar.
These are some of the places I found interesting apart from the Golden Temple. Within Amritsar you can do a plethora number of things like go for heritage walks, drink lassi at Giani lassi, go on food walks, walk around the bazaars and shop shoes,
Here is where to find the perfect lassi at Amritsar – Click Here
While writing such lists some of the bloggers would write visit Sikh museum, Akal Takht, langar hall, etc. All those are within the Golden temple complex. So am not listing them.
You can read about the Golden temple, history of Harmindar Sahib, Akal Takht and everything about the place here – Inside the Golden Temple, Amritsar
As I had been to a lot of museums by then and saw a video on the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, so I skipped the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum.
The other common place that people flock to which needs no mention is the Attari Wagah border. I had mixed reactions about the place. It was not really patriotic for me.
My experience and information about the Flag down ceremony and how to obtain passes for the Wagah border ceremony can be found here – Attari Wagah Border Ceremony
That is pretty much about the offbeat places you can visit in and around Amritsar apart from the temple.