India’s Golden Temple in Amritsar: The Only Guide You Need

I always enjoy the peace and serenity that I experience while entering Gurudwara or Door of God. Perhaps being a part of the Sikh family, it has been a tradition to frequently visit gurudwaras.

I have been there with family, with friends and also alone. Trust me, it is a different experience every single time.

If you are wondering where is Golden Temple located? Golden temple is located in the city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab in India. It is also known as Darbar Sahib or Harmandir Sahib. It is called the Golden temple because it is plated with gold. This place holds great importance for Sikhs all over the world. It is among the holiest places for Sikhs.

The one memory I treasure the most is visiting this holy place alone. I felt more connected and more in alignment with the energies of the place.

Due to some personal reasons, I wanted to go there alone. It was like setting up a personal one to one meeting with a loved one.

Sitting near the Sarovar and listening to the hymns being sung with soulful music was the best feeling I experienced there.

There were thousands of people all around but I felt peace within.

If you are planning a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, here are a few Quick facts about Harmandir Sahib that will help you plan your trip better.

What happens at the Golden Temple?

At the Golden temple, the ‘Path (पाठ)’ of the holy scripture of Sikhs ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ and ‘kirtan’ (singing of hymns from this holy text) is carried on most of the time.

  • ‘Guru’ means teacher,
  • ‘Granth’ means holy book,
  • ‘Sahib’ is a word showing respect.
  • ‘Path’ or in Hindi ‘पाठ‘ means recitation of the teachings
  • ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ contains the teachings of the Sikh Gurus and many other saints.

What is a tourist expected to do inside the Golden Temple?

Few guidelines to follow when inside the Golden Temple (Darbar Sahib or Harmandir Sahib)

  • Before entering the temple, pilgrims and all visitors have to remove their footwear including socks. These can be deposited at the counters which are located at the entry of the temple. It is a free depositing center, only Footwear can be deposited here. Token will be issued on depositing your footwear here. One should not walk with footwear inside the temple premises.
  • After depositing your footwear, you need to wash your hands and feet right at the gate that takes you inside the premises of the golden temple.
  • You should have your head covered from here onwards.
  • A flight of stairs will take you to the holy water body (Sarovar). From here you can move towards the sanctum.
  • You will notice visitors standing in queues that are moving slowly inside. There may or may not be separate queues for male and females. Just look around and join.
  • When you reach the inner sanctum, you will notice the holy book of Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib being read by a man (Granthi) or hymns being sung by a group of people.
  • When you come right in front of Guru Granth Sahib, you bow down and pray.
  • Then you move around and exit from the other door being used by visitors for the exit.
  • You would be given ‘Karaah Parshad’ (sweet sacred offering served to all the visitors) after exit.
  • Guru Granth Sahib is considered as the living Guru of Sikhs after the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

Entry Fee to the Golden Temple: There is no entry fee for this place. In fact, unlike many religious places in India, you won’t be pressurized into donating anything. There are donation boxes put at various places but it is completely voluntary.

If you are wondering if the Golden Temple is made of real gold? then the answer is Yes, the Golden Temple is plated with real gold weighing around 750 kg.

What is the best time to visit Golden Temple?

October to November and February to April are very good months to visit Golden temple. December and January are very cold. May to September would be too hot and humid to enjoy the visit. I visited it during the daytime in the month of August and it was too hot to have a pleasant experience of the place.

One more place that I would highly recommend you visit in Amritsar is the Wagah Attari Border Beating Retreat Ceremony. Wagah border is situated at the borderline of India and Pakistan and is located at a distance of around 32 km from the city of Amritsar on the Grand Trunk road between Lahore and Amritsar From this border, Lahore is just 22 km away.

Golden temple Amritsar timing

Golden temple is open 24 hours but Guru Granth Sahib Ji (the holy scriptures of Sikhs) is put in the resting place called ‘Akal Takht’ for a few hours from late night till early morning. ‘Kiwad’ or opening starts anywhere between 2 a.m to 3 a.m and ‘Sukh Asan’ begins between 9.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Many people choose to be present there for the daily early morning ceremony called “Parkash” that marks the beginning of the day and the late night ceremony of putting Guru Granth Sahib Ji to rest called “Sukhasan”, marking the end of the day.

This timing is changed depending upon the season and details can be checked HERE.

Is it safe to visit Golden Temple at night?

Yes, visiting the Golden temple at night is very safe. Many people choose to visit it late at night as it looks more beautiful at night with all the light and its golden color. Also, it is relatively less crowded at night than in the morning.

How long does it take to visit the Golden Temple?

It can take anywhere between 2 to 4 hours depending upon the timing of your visit and your interest. Golden Temple receives more than the usual number of visitors on weekends, local festivals like Gurupurabs, Baisakhi, Diwali, etc. Early morning hours from Parkash (around 3 a.m) to 6 a.m and late night hours from 9 p.m till Sukhasan (around 10.30 p.m.) are the best if you want to avoid the crowd.

It takes around 10-15 minutes to walk to reach the premises of the Golden Temple from the parking place. Vehicles can not enter beyond a point. To enter the sanctum where Guru Granth Sahib is placed, it can take another 20-60 minutes depending upon the length of the queue. If you go to Langar, it would take around half an hour more.

Dress code for Harmandir Sahib.

Covering your head and removing your footwear (including socks) and anything that’s made up of leather is compulsory before entering the Golden Temple. Covering your head is considered as a sign of respect towards God in Sikh religion. Since this is a sacred place remember to keep your shoulders and legs covered.

I have been asked by many people if Jeans is allowed to be worn inside the Golden Temple? Yes, you can wear jeans inside the Golden Temple. Keeping in view, the sanctity of this place, wearing shorts is not advisable.

What is the spiritual focus of the Golden Temple?

Golden temple is built in the ‘Amrit sarover’ which translates to ‘the lake of holy nectar.’ It is believed that whoever takes a dip in this water, gets cleansed and becomes free of illnesses. This water is believed to have healing properties. Pilgrims drink this water and few carry some of it home for family or relatives.

If you are interested in other spiritual places of India, I would highly recommend visiting Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state of India.

Are cameras allowed in Golden Temple?

Cameras are allowed in Golden temple and you can take selfies but photography is strictly prohibited in the sanctum. While you take pictures, just be aware that you don’t disturb people sitting around the Sarovar (the holy pond) or in corridors who may be listening to the recitation of the texts or reading their own. Listen to the instructions given by the staff or guards, if any. They would approach you if you are doing something that is not acceptable there. Do not sit around Sarovar with your feet or legs dipped in water. It is considered disrespectful. Do not make unnecessary noise.

How do you get to the Golden Temple?

Amritsar has an international airport and good bus and train connectivity. There are many buses and trains to Amritsar from Delhi and other major cities. From Amritsar airport, bus stand and train station, one can easily get a cab, auto and local buses to the Golden temple.

What does Langar Mean?

Langar is the food cooked in the community kitchen of the Gurudwara to be served to all the visitors. It promotes a sense of responsibility, equality and sharing among people. Most of the food cooked is simple but very filling and delicious. On special occasions like Gurupurab, Baisakhi, etc., kheer (a sweet dish made of rice, milk and dry fruits) is served in the Gurudwaras.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru of Sikh religion started this tradition of langar or community kitchen service. He was given a small sum of money by his father to start a business which he utilized to provide meals to a group of hungry sadhus. This tradition is being continued by Sikhs throughout the world.

I still remember relishing the langar food when I used to visit Gurudwara with family. My mom and many other ladies would volunteer for making chapatis in Langar. Karah Prashad (made of flour, ghee, and sugar) is offered to all the visitors in Gurudwara and that taste can never be found elsewhere.

Langar at the Golden Temple

Golden temple is famous for feeding around one lakh people every day and almost double on special occasions/festivals.

It has received the status of the biggest community kitchen in the world. Whoever comes to the home of God, does not go hungry. A simple but wholesome vegetarian meal is served to the visitors.

Sitting on the ground in a queue and eating together, brings a feeling of equality and brotherhood among people. If you want, you can volunteer for cleaning and serving.

Where to stay in Amritsar

If you are backpacker, check out the Backpacker’s Nest. Set in the heart of Amritsar, 700 m from Golden Temple, Backpacker’s Nest features free WiFi access and free private parking. For more details, reviews & Booking click here.

If you’re not a backpacker, check out Ramada Amritsar. Located barely 1 km from the prominent Gurudwara, Golden Temple, Ramada Amritsar features an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center and offers 2 dining options. For more details, reviews & Booking click here.

Amritsar Golden temple room booking

You can stay at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Accommodation is provided in the Inns near the golden temple that are run by the organization SGPC that manages this temple. It is subject to availability. Room booking for the inn can be done through the official website and more information is also available HERE. Rooms are provided at first come first serve basis.

There is also a separate guest house catering to the NRIs and foreign tourists.

Places to visit near the Golden Temple

Jallianwala Bagh and Partition Museum are two places that are located at walking distance from the Golden temple. I would highly recommend visiting the Wagah Attari Border Beating retreat ceremony. The cobbled pathway that leads to the golden temple has shops that offer food, ethnic clothes, and footwear and trinkets, etc.

After offering my prayers at the Golden Temple, I returned back to the hostel I was staying at. The hostel staff intimated about the group trip being organized the next day for the Wagah border and I immediately joined in.

The Wagah-Atari border is famous for the ceremony called ‘beating the retreat’ ceremony where the Border Security Force from India and Pakistan Rangers from Pakistan, put up a coordinated show together.

Click here to read my 2329 word long detailed guide on Wagah Border India – Parade Timings, How to Reach, Transport, Tips AND MORE.

Jallianwala Bagh is a garden that houses a memorial for the people who died in the massacre at this place on 13th April 1919. Partition Museum was inaugurated on 25th August 2017.

It puts in front of you the suffering, pain, tragedy, and heartaches of people who witnessed the event of the partition of India in 1947. You can listen to the audio-videos of the people who narrate what they or their families/friends went through.

I was literally in tears when I listened to these and read the letters/diaries at the display, looked at the pictures that exhibited India of that time. It is an underrated place that definitely deserves a visit with a nominal fee of Rs.10.

How was the Golden temple built?

Guru Ram Das Ji began the construction of the ‘Sarovar’ or ‘lake of holy nectar’ in 1570. In 1581, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, son of Guru Ram Das Ji worked towards the completion of the Sarovar. The foundation stone for the Golden temple was laid in 1588 by a Sufi saint Mian Mir Ji. The building work was completed in 1601 A.D

The architecture of the Golden temple is a beautiful blend of Muslim and Hindu way of construction work.

The temple is constructed at a lower level and one has to come downstairs while entering the main premises. This is believed to be done with a purpose to instill a sense of humility and modesty among devotees.

The Golden temple has entry gates in all four directions. It emphasizes the lesson of equality that Sikh Gurus taught. There is no discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, race, gender, etc. Everyone is welcome in the home of God.

Golden temple attack

Golden temple attack or Operation Blue Star as it was code-named, was an attempt by the then government to remove militant religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the Golden temple. He was believed to be hiding there with his followers to escape arrest and accumulating arms and ammunition inside.

The operation continued during 3rd June 1984 to 8th June 1984.

Many innocent people lost their lives along with militants, armed forces and pilgrims. People have different views of Bhindranwale. Some believe him to be militant and for many Sikhs, he is revered as a saint.

But on one thing people have similar thoughts that the time following the attack was a very testing and terrifying time for Sikhs in Punjab and in other parts of India.

Is Amritsar safe for tourists?

Amritsar is very safe for tourists. You can see many tourists visiting the city. Though roaming around alone late night is not advisable.

Official Website of Golden Temple, Amritsar

Click HERE for the official website of the Golden Temple where you can find many helpful details.

If this is your first trip to India you will find these posts helpful:-

  1. When is the best time to Visit India?
  2. 30 Breathtakingly Beautiful Destinations in India that you should not miss visiting!
  3. 15 Most Popular Festivals in India (with 2019 dates).
  4. Visiting India? Here’s What should tourists wear in India?
  5. Should you tip in India? Read when, whom & how much to tip.
  6. 13 tried and tested Safety Tips for Train Travel in India
  7. Curious about Indian Culture? Learn how to drape a perfect Saree – Step By Step Tutorial.

Video of Golden Temple, Amritsar, India in 4K Ultra HD

In this video by Amazing Places on Our Planet see the Golden Temple (Sri Harmandir Sahib – “The Abode of God”) the holy shrine in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. It is on the Tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

I am not a strongly religious person but I do have faith in the supreme power.

A place where God is being praised all the time would never lack peace and serenity. I go to Him as if he is a parent and a friend as well. That’s how I get treated too.

When I am not able to find a way out or answer to something, I submit to him and let him do the needful. Whatever is the outcome, I tell myself that this is what He wants and how it is supposed to be.

At the end of the day, it’s all about you being at peace with yourself.

There are a few lines in the holy scripture of Sikhs Guru Granth Sahib, which translate to-

“When you put forth one step and submit yourself to Guru, he takes billion steps to receive you”

And I, indeed have put forward mine with the belief that he is there to receive.

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