Inextricably linked with the history of Sikhism, Amritsar is amongst the most revered religious sites in the world. You will be escorted from your hotel with your guide and driven to the famous Golden Temple.
The legendary Golden Temple is part of this huge gurdwara complex, known to Sikhs as Harmandir Sahib. Spiritually, the focus of attention is the tank (pool) that surrounds the gleaming central shrine, the Amrit Sarovar, from which Amritsar takes its name. It was excavated by the fourth Sikh guru, Ram Das, in 1577. Ringed by a marble walkway, the Gurudwara, or Gateway to the Guru, sits in that sacred pool of water, which is believed to wash away pain and grant health and happiness forever. Pilgrims come from across the world to bathe in its sacred waters.
Floating at the end of a long causeway, you will find the Golden Temple, a mesmerizing blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. It has an elegant marble lower level adorned with flower and animal motifs in pieta dura work, similarly seen on the Taj Mahal. Above this, rises a shimmering second level, encased in intricately engraved gold panels, and topped by a dome gilded with over 1630 lbs of gold. In the gleaming inner sanctum, priests and musicians keep up a continuous chant from the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book of the Sikh religion), adding to the already intense atmosphere.
No visit to a gurudwara is complete without seeing the langar (community kitchen / meal) and the scale of the community meal at the Golden Temple has to be seen to be believed. Rows upon rows of people line up to collect clean trays and cutlery and make their way to the two-level langar hall.
A few minutes’ walk from Harmandir Sahib is the historic Jallianwala Bagh. It is the site of the 1919 British massacre of citizens. The gardens are verdant, well-manicured and blooming with color. Joggers and walkers mingle with the tourists. It’s hard to imagine that this beautiful place was the scene of such a tragedy.
After a break for lunch (not included), we will head for the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan, about 17 miles from Amritsar. We will watch the ceremony that marks the closing of the Indo-Pakistan border gates every evening. This is a must-see event for its sheer drama.
Experience the Beating Retreat Ceremony with the ceremonial closing of the gates and the lowering of the flags of India and Pakistan. Watch as the Indian and Pakistani Rangers march towards the gates from their respective sides. After the gates are open, the soldiers salute each other and start lowering their flags. The ceremony reaches a crescendo with the soldiers returning to the border line for the final handshake. The bugle blow marks the end of the ceremony. After the ceremony you will be escorted back to your Hotel.