From Delhi, many carriers offer cheap flights to Amritsar, the largest northern city. The nearest airport is Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, just 11 kilometres northwest of Amritsar. Count on SpiceJet and Air Deccan to offer the cheapest airfares to this area. You can also find Amritsar flights on major carriers like Air India and Qatar Airways at a premium. Singapore Airlines just added direct Amritsar flights from Singapore to serve the growing Sikh population in Southeast Asia. For cheap flights to Amritsar from the US or Europe, your only option is to go through Delhi or fly with Uzbekistan Airways.
Once you land at the airport, you'll likely want to take a taxi to get to your first destination in the city.
Getting around Amritsar can be tricky. Your best bet is to hire a guide to help you find the different attractions. If you want to save money and tour the area without a guide, you may want to consider hiring an official taxi or a private car and driver. To save even more money, you can have your driver drop you off at the train station, which will get you closer to many different attractions. There is a free bus service at the train station that will take you to visit the Golden Temple. Whatever mode of transportation you choose, bargaining for cheaper fares is highly recommended. Drivers will often lower their fares with a little persuasive effort on your part.
Amritsar's Golden Temple, Harmandir Sahib, is the spiritual heart of the Sikh religion and absolutely one of the most stunning sites in India. You must have your head covered to visit the temple, so be sure to come prepared for this.
One of the aspects that travellers often find most charming is that Amritsar is a traditional walled village with narrow streets, like a vision of the 1600s. The travellers that come here rarely go beyond the Golden Temple, but the border of Pakistan is actually the second most popular destination. The changing of the guards at sunrise is actually quite a spectacle and is sometimes accompanied by singing, which lends a festival-like feel to the area.
The best places to shop in Amritsar are the Guru Bazaar, Mochi Bazaar and Shastri Market, where you can buy traditional Punjabi garments, textiles, and art, as well as delicious food items.
Nightlife in this devout and religious city is a bit different from mainstream cities elswehere. You won't find bars and nightclubs here, but there is still plenty to enjoy at night. There's no question that the Golden Temple, flashing in the night with its dramatic lighting and its reflecting pool, outshines the Taj Mahal when the sun goes down. Spend your nights exploring magnificent feasts, like the one at Surjeet, where locals come for its famous Tandoor dishes and matar paneer. Visit Kesar de Dhaba if you're interested in more traditional local northern dishes like Punjabi thali.