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Amritsar is the spiritual and cultural nerve centre of the Sikh community in India. It is a busy and bustling trading centre and has a population of over 1 million people and is located in the state of Punjab. It is home to the Harmandir Sahib (referred to as the "Golden Temple" in the western media), the spiritual and cultural center for the Sikh religion. Amritsar is situated 217 kilometres northwest of the state capital Chandigarh and is 32 kilometres east of Lahore, Pakistan and therefore, very close to India's western border with Pakistan.
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The Harmandir Sahib (or Hari Mandir) in Amritsar, Punjab, is the holiest shrine to Sikhism. Previously and more commonly referred to as the Golden Temple, it was infact officially renamed Harmandir Sahib in 2005. The temple was completed in 1604 by the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev Ji, but it all began much earlier in 1577 when the fourth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, excavated a tank in 1577 which subsequently became known as Amritsar (meaning pool of the nectar of immortality), thus giving its name to the city that grew around it.
When visiting the temple it is important that you follow protocol. You will need to leave your shoes in the designated area (you will be given a token in exhange), cover your head and bathe your feet on the way in. The other restrictions are that visitors must not drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke cigarettes or take drugs on the premises. Perhaps unlike many other temples in India, here you feel genuinely welcome and there is no pressure to take out your wallet or pay for a guide and there is no entrance fee. The welcoming information office to the left of the main gate gives helpful advice and information, as well as booklets on Sikhism.
The temple (or gurdwara, meaning doorway to god) is a major pilgrimage destination for Sikhs from all over the world, as well as a popular tourist attraction where all faiths are welcome. It also offers food and rest for weary travellers and pilgrims within its complex. When visiting the gurdwara you will notice catering quarters on a grand scale where food is being prepared and delicious smells will make your mouth water. Hundreds of people are fed for free every day here.
The Golden Temple almost appears to float in its "pool of nectar"and is reflected beautifully in the still waters. It gleams and sparkles in the sunshine and after dark, when it is illuminated, it is equally beautiful and yes it is clad in real gold!
Jalianwala Bagh (Garden) is a place which holds an important place in the India's struggle for independence from the British rulers. It reminds us of the brutal killing of hundreds of innocent people on April 13, 1919 by General Dyer, a British General. Thousands of people had gathered from nearby places to celebrate Baisakhi festival on that fateful day, when General Dyer moved his troops in and ordered them to fire resulting in the life of innocent people. General argued that a circular was issued a day before banning any public gathering and meeting but the message could not be communicated to the common people. Today this place has become an important tourist attraction with a memorial with an eternal flame dedicated to the martyrs.
Wagah, located around 28 kilometres from Amritsar is the international border of India and Pakistan. In the evening people visit the border to witness the famous " Retreat" ceremony in which soldiers from India and Pakistan perform a flag march. The flags of India and Pakistan are brought down. The border gates are opened and soldiers from both the sides perfom some drill. The most interesting aspect is the constant cheering by crowd gathered on both the sides to boost the morale of the armed forces of their sides. People are even allowed to walk up to the main gates and take pictures.
Amritsar has a climate typical to the entire northern plains of India. Summers (April to June) can be quite hot with temperature reaching in excess of 40º C and winters (November to February) can be cool and moderating with day time temperatures around 15-20º C. The best time to visit Amritsar is from October to March when temperatures are moderate and there is little rain.
|Avg Max||19 °C||21.9 °C||27 °C||34.1 °C||38.9 °C||39.6 °C||35.2 °C||34.3 °C||34.3 °C||32.2 °C||27 °C||21.2 °C|
|Avg Min||3.8 °C||6.4 °C||11 °C||16.3 °C||21.3 °C||24.8 °C||25.5 °C||25.2 °C||22.6 °C||15.7 °C||8.7 °C||4.3 °C|
|Rainfall||27.6 mm||30.9 mm||34.7 mm||17.9 mm||20.5 mm||56.1 mm||222.1 mm||168 mm||94.6 mm||20.2 mm||6 mm||14.2 mm|
Amritsar is served by Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport (ATQ) which is located around 10 kilometres from the city centre. Oddly enough, domestic flights are only available to/from Delhi. International flights however are available to/from Dubai, Muscat, Toronto, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Tehran, Doha, Ashgabat and Tashkent.
Amritsar is a major terminus station of Indian railways. Trains link Amritsar to all parts of the country and there is also an international service to Lahore. Superfast trains like the Shatabdi and Rajdhani type trains are also available on this route. Computerised reservation offices are available at the station through which it is possible to book tickets on any route on the Indian railways.
Organised public transport is still in a developing stage in Amritsar. However city buses do ply on certain specific routes but there are no metros and trams. Other modes of transport are cycle rickshaws and taxis. Check the rates with the locals before hiring a rickshaw or taxi so that you are not over charged.
|Hotel CJ International||OPP. GOLDEN TEMPLE LANGAR HALL BUILDING NEAR GOLDEN TEMPLE||Hotel||75|
|Hotel Heritage Inn||1234 Baba Atal Road Beside World Famous Golden Temple Amritsar, Punjab||Hotel||74|
|P.R Residency||101- DSC, Shopping Centre Ranjit Avenue||Hotel||75|
|Hotel City Heart||Near Jallian wala Bagh||Hotel||80|
|Hotel Grand Legacy||8 G.T. Road Model Town||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Grace||Grace Hotel, Opp. Sarai Langar Hall(Free Eating Jo||HOTEL||66|
|Hotel Sham Villa||Greenland。N.H.1, Opp- Fortis Escort Hospita Service lane,Verka-Majitha byepass||HOTEL||-|
|Mango Suites Apex||110, Albert Road, Near Mall Road||HOTEL||-|
There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.
Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.
The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.
Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.
If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.
Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
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