Timings : 04:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Open : Monday to Sunday (24*7)
Time Required : 2 – 3 hours
Entry Fee : No entry fee
The Harmandir Sahib or the Swarna Mandir in Amritsar is the undisputed centre for Sikhism around the world. People from all faiths and walks of life visit the beautiful temple with its four symbolic doors that open in all directions, welcoming the faithful as well as the curious. With over a hundred thousand people on an average visiting the shrine daily.
Reaching Amritsar You can reach
You can reach Amritsar by ✈ Air, 🚌 Road or by 🚃 Rail.
The closest airport to Amritsar is the international airport near Rajasansi, known as the Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport. Amritsar airport is about 11 kilometers away from the city centre; which can be covered in approximately 20 minutes by road. This cab ride should cost you around INR 300; but only if you bargained hard enough after the initial ridiculous quote! There are daily domestic flights to and from Delhi, Mumbai and Srinagar; besides an increasing number of international flights to select destinations.
If you are visiting from overseas and landing in New Delhi, the Amritsar airport is a convenient hour’s flight away from IGI Airport in New Delhi.
Delhi and Chandigarh are also very well connected by road to Amritsar. In fact, it takes only about 6-7 hours to get to Amritsar from Delhi. A host of tourist bus service providers offer package tours to the Golden Temple from most major cities within Punjab and its neighboring states.
Tips for the Best Darshan:
Be prepared to wait: There is no online or any other type of booking for preferential darshan at the Golden Temple – you will have to be the head of a country or someone as important if you hope to escape that never ending line. Ordinary mortals are simply herded into orderly lines that are manned by intimidating looking temple guards, all of who are at least six and a half feet tall! So be prepared for a long wait for darshan.
Check the weather in Amritsar: Since it has been made abundantly clear that you can’t give the line a miss, it would be a brilliant call if you decided to visit in pleasant weather. Amritsar is a city of extremes in terms of weather. The temperature in Amritsar shoots through the roof in the blistering Indian summer and dips enough to make you quite cold in the winter – so the best months to visit would be between October and March. But if you hesitate visualizing yourself in multiple layers of clothing, you could skip planning an Amritsar trip in December and January!
Best time to visit: Depending on your level of religious fervour, any time is a good time of day to visit. If you are the kind who wishes to avoid getting into endless queues, then early morning at 4 AM or late at night are great times to go to the temple. You will get to witness the installation or returning ceremony of the holy book of the Sikhs, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which is a pleasant bonus. Weekends should be avoided, as should all Sikh and Hindu festivals – faithful from the entire city and around descend upon the city to celebrate anything from a Gurupurab to Diwali; and everything in between.
Plan your visit to coincide with the daily afternoon ‘langar’ or free kitchen. The Golden Temple runs one of the largest free kitchens in the world, serving a basic and delicious meal to up to 100,000 people daily. This meal is prepared by volunteers and is an experience in itself. Don’t forget to eat as well as carry packed Prasad and buy ‘karaas’ from the temple for family and friends. It is pretty much mandatory to distribute Prasad as good blessings and the religious bangles as keepsakes.
Things you must keep in mind
The temple is open to everyone – regardless of religion, caste, colour or sex. But there are a few stringently enforced rules that a visitor must observe – at the risk of being publicly and at times, rudely reprimanded by the burly temple guards who roam the complex ticking off offenders.
1. Remove your shoes before entering the temple complex.
2. Wash your feet in a small pool of water at the entrance.
3. Keep your head covered at all times – the gurudwara provides a head covering for those who have not carried a scarf.
4. Dress appropriately.
5. Do not carry or consume alcohol, drugs, meat or cigarettes while in or around the shrine.
6. Do not break the line
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