The holy city of Amritsar is the spiritual home of the Sikh faith. Its name translates to "pool of nectar", in reference to the holy body of healing water that surrounds the glistening Golden Temple. Old and New Amritsar are separated by a tangle of railway lines and a maze of narrow lanes, or katras, that house one of the busiest markets in India. With its fair share of history from the days of the British Raj, today Amritsar reflects the personality of the Punjab - a love of food, of music and a zest for life!
It is also close to the northwest border of Pakistan and visitors often visit the border to see the daily sunset retreat ceremony which takes place with the Border Security Force on the Indian Side and the Sutlej Rangers on the Pakistan side. The ceremony is a well-coordinated and spectacular display, with the sound of blowing bugles from both sides as they close the border for the night. During the ceremony the flags of the two nations are simultaneously retrieved to the sound of thunderous applause from the crowds. Today, this border is the only route open to anyone crossing into Pakistan and Central Asia.
Aside from the magnificent Golden Temple, it’s well worth attending a Sikh temple to witness a religious ceremony to appreciate the importance of Amritsar to the Sikh faith. The Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden and memorial that commemorates the massacre of Indian citizens by British occupying forces on Punjabi New Year 1919, is generally a must see too. Essentially a rural town, it is also a good base to explore the local countryside and the fertile farming which has made the farmers from this region some of India’s richest.