Our luxury Amritsar tour extension whisks you to the mesmerising Golden Temple for, what we feel, is an unforgettable experience. A two-storey marble structure covered in pure gold and surrounded by a shimmering pool of sacred water; the Golden Temple is utterly captivating. However, it’s what goes on inside that’s the most beautiful part. At the Golden Temple, huge kitchens staffed by hundreds of volunteers prepare thousands of free meals a day – anyone is welcome to sit down and eat, together, no matter their status, earnings, caste or religion. Another highlight not to be missed is the nearby village of Wagah, on the Pakistan border – every evening, with great pomp and national pride, the border gates are clanged shut in an elaborate ceremony.
Our luxury Amritsar extension suggests staying at the Taj Swarna. Having opened its doors in 2017, the Swarna offers all the comforts and facilities one would expect from a five-star property under the ubiquitous Taj name. Conveniently located within easy reach of the airport and the Golden Temple, and with interiors inspired by local Amritsari culture and crafts, it’s an ideal base for exploring the sights.
There’ll be a couple of hours free in which to rest and settle in, ahead of visiting the Golden Temple this evening for the Putting to Bed Ceremony. Not only will the sight of the Golden Temple sparkling at night blow you away, but the unique and colourful ceremony itself is also an experience not to miss on a visit to Amritsar. The temple is home to the Adi Granth or Original Holy Book which is a collection of hymns of the great saints. Every evening the Holy Scripture is ritually put to bed, as devotees take it from the Harmandir Sahib (where it stays in the daytime) to the Akal Takht. The ceremony takes place every evening at about 9:15 pm in the winter months and 10:15 pm in the summer.
Your guide will show you around the central area of the temple and explain its rich history and layout, including the vast dining hall where visitors sit down and eat a free meal together. The most incredible part – as you’ll find out as your guide takes you behind the scenes – is the expansive kitchens where volunteers freshly prepare all this food. You will see big cauldrons full of dhal (lentils) and groups of ladies rolling out chapatti (flatbread). Meanwhile, the noise in the background is the endless washing of plates. Sweets are available too, as well as a never-ending supply of sugary chai (tea): all free for anyone who wants it. Outside of the kitchens, you’ll see people bathing in the water believed to be sacred and wash away all illness. You’ll also hear chants coming from the temple while worshippers walk round in a clockwise direction.
A short walk away from the Golden Temple lies Jallianwala Bagh, the site of an infamous massacre that took place in 1919. Hundreds of unarmed demonstrators were gunned down in this enclosed garden on the orders of General Reginald Dyer, who arrived heading a platoon of infantry from Jalandhar. It was an event which helped hasten the end of British rule in India. A memorial to those killed stands at the east end.
Later, you’ll head out to Wagah – the last check post on the Indian border with Pakistan. Each evening, as buglers sound the last post, two splendidly uniformed guards on either side of the border goose-step across to the flagpoles to lower their respective national flags. Their steps match so perfectly that it is like watching a mirror image of the same exercise. The ceremony, which attracts crowds of spectators on both sides, is a poignant reminder of the Partition of 1947 when Punjab was divided between two nations.
The luxury Amritsar tour we’ve described here is merely a starting point to share a flavour of the possibilities, and absolutely every aspect is flexible (from the hotel to the length to the sightseeing). We can easily add Amritsar and the Golden Temple to most of our sample itineraries, including this luxury Rajasthan tour and this luxury Golden Triangle tour. Please get in touch so we can build an understanding of your ideas and interests, and develop a tailor-made itinerary to best suit you. All our tours are private, and tailor-made to complement your taste and interests. In essence, the itinerary described above is just a starting point, and together we can refine it into your ideal Indian experience.
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