Amritsar, the Holy city on the lake
Not far from the border with Pakistan, the Indian city of Amritsar is home to the luminous Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib, the holiest of sites of the Sikh religion. Amritsar is surrounded by Amrit Sarovar lake where pilgrims have been bathing in the sacred waters for centuries.
Climate and events in Amritsar
Amritsar enjoys a semi-arid climate with extremely hot summer temperatures that reach about 42°C from April to June, followed by a rainy season from July to September. Tourists generally visit between October and March, when weather is more favourable. Because of the location and make-up of the population, both Hindu and Sikh festivals are observed, including the Festival of Vaisakhi or Harvest Festival and New Year which is celebrated in April. Other major holidays include Guru Nanak Gurpurab in November and Deepavali, usually celebrated at the end of October or beginning of November.
Important Amritsar particulars
Visitors are expected to respect the tenets of the Sikh religion in the immediate area of the Golden Temple. That means both men and women should keep their heads covered and refrain from taking pictures inside the Temple. There is absolutely no smoking or drinking of alcohol anywhere inside the Temple complex. Travellers from Delhi or Kolkata will find prices for food and groceries generally lower in Amritsar. At the same time, they will notice that eating in a restaurant is typically more expensive, with a basic meal in an inexpensive restaurant coming to about 200 rupees.
Getting to know Amritsar
Amritsar's Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport is located 11 km from central Amritsar, with city buses available that make the trip from the airport to the central bus station in about 24 minutes. Taxis are available and can be bargained down to about 300 rupees - but be prepared to bargain hard. Hostels with shared rooms are available starting from approximately 200 rupees a night, with luxury hotels running to upwards of 2,000 rupees per night. In the city, there is a variety of public transportation available including rickshaws, auto rickshaws, buses and taxis. Please note that motorized vehicles are not allowed in the vicinity of the Golden Temple.