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Discovering the golden city: A thrilling 3-day Amritsar itinerary under Rs. 5000

Discovering the golden city: A thrilling 3-day Amritsar itinerary under Rs. 5000

By Soumya Pawaskar

14 Feb, 2024

From crossing borders and stepping into Pakistan to channelling my inner Bollywood star in the blooming mustard fields.... from visiting two holy sites in Sikhism to experiencing the electrifying atmosphere at the Attari-Wagah border, my 72 hours in Amritsar were a perfect blend of adventure and excitement. Although I gained a few pounds by eating all the lip-smacking street food, it was totally worth it!

Now, here's the kicker - what if I tell you all this is possible in just 3 days, and that too under the budget of Rs. 5000? Curious? Then grab a glass of lassi, relax, and join me as I take you on a journey to Amritsar, the Golden City of Punjab.

How to reach Amritsar:

View of famous Dharam Singh heritage street

Rich heritage and historical charm of Amritsar's iconic Dharam Singh Market

First, let's talk about how to get to the Golden City. Amritsar is quite accessible by all modes of transportation.

By Air: Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport of Amritsar is well connected to most cities in India and major international cities, making it convenient for domestic and foreign tourists to visit the holy city. This airport is approximately 13 km away from The Hosteller, Amritsar.

By Train: Amritsar can be conveniently reached by train from major cities across India. The Amritsar Junction (ASR) is only 2.4 kilometres from The Hosteller, Amritsar. One can easily find cabs and auto-rickshaws outside the junction, costing Rs.60.

By Road: Amritsar is accessible by road, thanks to its extensive network. Numerous private and state-owned buses operate from Delhi and Chandigarh. The closest bus station – Amritsar Bus Stand – is 500 metres from The Hosteller, Amritsar.

Regarding the excellent 3-days Amritsar itinerary on a budget of Rs. 5000, let me share the details of my time in this city.

Day 1

Check-in and lunch:

Mouth-watering Chole Kulche and Amritsari Lassi at the Kesar Da Dhaba

Mouth-watering Chole Kulche and Amritsari Lassi at the Kesar Da Dhaba

13:00: Upon settling in The Hosteller, Amritsar, my go-to affordable accommodation in Amritsar, I quickly freshened up and headed out to enjoy some authentic Chole Kultche and Amritsari lassi at the renowned Kesar Da Dhaba for lunch. This delicious lunch cost me Rs.275. Amritsar is well known for its rich food heritage and unmatched street food scene. From mouth-watering Chole-Kulche and thick, creamy Amritsari lassi to freshly fried hot Jalebis and warm masala milk served in traditional kulhad, the local cuisine in Amritsar is so delicious that it's almost impossible to resist going on an eating spree.

Honestly, no matter where you eat in Amritsar, the food is always top-notch. However, if you are seeking recommendations, here's a list of our top food spots to check out on your next trip to Amritsar. To know about the best food to eat in Amritsar, check out our Amritsar food blog.

  • Kesar da Dhaba
  • Kulcha land
  • Beera Chicken House
  • Ahuja Milk Bhandar
  • All India Famous Amritsari Kulcha
  • Kanha Sweets
  • Brothers' Dhaba
  • Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner
  • Surjit Food Plaza
  • A-one Kulfa

Golden moments at the Golden Temple:

aerial view of majestic Golden Temple

Aerial view of magnificent Golden Temple

15:30: After a hearty and delicious lunch, I set out for the Golden Temple visit, eager to witness its beauty at the golden hour.

The first thing one should do while in Amritsar is visit the holy shrine in Sikhism, Sri Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as the 'Golden Temple'. I highly recommend planning your Golden Temple visit during daylight and nighttime for a magical experience.

An E-auto from Kesar Da Dhaba to the temple took 8 mins, costing Rs.40 (bargained). Upon reaching the majestic Golden Temple, I could instantly feel a shift in the energy. Despite the bustling market, the atmosphere exuded a calming effect as I approached the temple.

The temple offers accessible shoe-drop facilities with tokens. Foot washing pools at the entrance and exit require visitors to wash their feet. Dipping my feet in the cool water instantly washed away the tiredness from our trip. Inside the temple, men and women must cover their heads with scarves or bandanas. These can be purchased for Rs.10-20 from the outside market.

View of majestic Golden Temple

The majestic Golden Temple glowing in the radiant golden hues as the sun sets 

17:30: At precisely half past five, as indicated by the clock tower, we joined the procession of people entering the temple. My excitement surged with an adrenaline rush as we passed under the grand arches, and I caught my first glimpse of the sacred shrine. There it was, the Golden Temple, in its full glory!

The temple was shimmering in the warm, gold hues of the setting sun, giving it a divine appearance and making it look more radiant. Its reflection in the still waters created a magical mirror image. It was indeed a sight to behold!

Pilgrims enjoying langar in the dining hall of the Golden Temple

Pilgrims enjoying langar in the dining hall of the Golden Temple

After offering prayers at the temple, we received the Kara Prasad, a sweet blessing you shouldn't miss. Next, we headed to the langar, a centuries-old system that is the world's most extensive free kitchen, where dedicated volunteers prepare and serve a nourishing meal, including dal, roti, sabzi, and kheer, to over 100,000 devotees daily. We relished the langar, sitting cross-legged with fellow visitors, enjoying the wholesome meal served by the volunteers.

Volunteers helping in the kitchen  by making chapatis

Devoted volunteers helping in the Golden Temple's kitchen by making chapatis

Did you know? Anyone can participate in 'seva' (service) in the langar halls, serving food, cleaning, or washing dishes. There's also a chance to help in the kitchen, from peeling vegetables to making chapatis.

After finishing my langar meal, I sat by Amrit Sarovar, the pool on the temple premises. Surrounded by musical gurbani kirtan tunes and a gentle evening breeze, I immersed myself in the positive atmosphere. My Golden Temple visit was just surreal.

Feasting on local cuisine in Amritsar:

A mouth-watering street dessert - piping hot jalebis

A mouth-watering street dessert - piping hot jalebis

20:00: After exploring the temple, I wandered the market, craving a sweet treat. Just outside gate no. 2 of the Golden Temple, I found Lal Singh Kesariya Milk, a roadside shop offering warm masala milk filled with dry fruits and topped with rose petals. It was divine and cost only Rs.40. Nearby, at Gurudas Ram Jalebi Wala, I savoured the most incredible jalebis of my life for just Rs.60. The local cuisine in Amritsar will never disappoint you!

Total expense: With a full stomach and happy heart, I wrapped up my first day in Amritsar with a total expense of Rs.465.

Day 2

The second day was going to be a long day with loads of places on my checklist. First up in my plan was the Partition Museum, then Sadda Pind, and I capped it off with the Attari-Wagah Border. Sporting a Punjabi Suit to channel my inner Simran, I was all set to witness the Sarson ka khet on the way to the border.

9:15: I decided to rise and shine and head to Bade Brother's Dhaba for breakfast. Apart from the tasty food, what's cool is that it opens at 7:30 am. After feasting on some delicious aloo parathas and piping hot chai, costing just Rs.130, I started walking towards the Partition Museum.

Enroute - The Partition Museum:

Historic Partition Museum building, a profound testament of sacrifice

Historic Partition Museum building, a testament of sacrifice (Source - partitionmuseum.org)

10:15: I was standing outside the Partition Museum, a mere 2 mins walk from Bade Brother's Dhaba. If you're a history buff like me and curious about India's partition history, you should definitely check out this museum.

The Partition Museum is more than just a museum. It is a true testament of sacrifice. It wasn't just the partition of India; it was a brutal tearing apart of emotions, lives, and homes. People who once proudly called India home found themselves with nowhere to belong. To commemorate this pain, Amritsar built a unique museum. This is titled the "People's Museum" and is home to numerous tales, memoirs, art, and artefacts.

A glimpse into history through the poignant belongings of refugees at the Partition Museum

A glimpse into history through the belongings of refugees at the Partition Museum 

I exited the Partition Museum, and it felt like leaving behind an era-sistable past! The weight of history hung heavy in the air. It's not just about the artefacts or the displays; it's about connecting with the past that's shaped our present. Walking away, I felt a more profound respect for the resilience of those who lived through those times. It's a visit I'll carry with me forever, a reminder that history isn't just something we read about; it's something we feel in our bones.

Quick note: The timings for the Partition Museum are 10 am - 6 pm. The museum is typically closed on Mondays and National holidays.

Games, Pottery And Giddha - Sadda Pind Diaries:

View of Sadda Pind, a beautiful Punjabi village resort

View of Sadda Pind, a beautiful Punjabi village resort (Source - Saddapind.co.in)

11:15: I hopped on an E-auto from the Partition Museum to get to Sadda Pind, costing just Rs.100. I was excited about this highly recommended place, Sadda Pind, which translates to "our village", is a fantastic Punjabi Village Resort spanning over 12 acres. Bursting with vibrant colours and rich flavours, it's the perfect spot to dive into Punjabi culture. It's ideal for a weekend getaway or a quick stay with family and friends. Despite the Rs.850 ticket price, which made me hesitant due to my Rs.5000 budget for the 3-days Amritsar itinerary, the unique experience was worth it!

I came across this vast open area as I entered through the main entrance. Moving forward, you'll see these classic small and big Punjabi houses. The bigger ones are called havelis. I climbed the stairs of one of the haveli and went up on the terrace, and there you go! The view was straight out of a postcard – lush fields (or 'khet' as the locals say) stretching as far as the eye could see.

Therapeutic pottery experience at Sadda Pind

Therapeutic pottery experience at Sadda Pind

One of the highlights was trying pottery – who knew moulding clay could be so therapeutic? Getting our hands dirty was oddly satisfying. After that, we indulged in childhood nostalgia with cotton candies. While savouring these sugary clouds, I heard about a surprise puppet show and rushed over. I had a blast!

The real fun began as we immersed ourselves in traditional games like Gilli Danda and Kancha (good old Hopscotch) right in the middle of the road. Other tourists joined in, creating a nostalgic vibe. Exhausted from playing, we craved refreshments and found a stall selling ganne ka ras. Sipping on the excellent juice, we felt instantly refreshed. Nearby, ladies gracefully danced Giddha to rhythmic dholki beats. They invited me to join and even taught me the moves.

Women performing the traditional Punjabi dance of Giddha at Sadda Pind

Women performing the traditional Punjabi dance of Giddha at Sadda Pind (Source - Saddapind.co.in) 

Starving after all the games and dance, I couldn't wait to dive into lunch. From the sizzling tandoori delights to the aromatic curries, each dish carried the authentic flavours of Punjab. And to top it off, dessert was the perfect finale for my culinary journey. Sadda Pind was a feast for the belly and the heart, serving up memories I'll forever hold dear. Until next time, Sadda Pind – you've left a piece of your charm in my heart!

14:00 My next destination was the Attari-Wagah border, conveniently located on the way from Sadda Pind. Technically, the distance from Amritsar to the Pakistan border is just 32 kms It was a brief 45-minute journey, and to make the trip hassle-free, I decided to hire a private cab for a round trip at the cost of Rs 850. Since I hadn't splurged much on Day 1, I was okay spending more on Day 2.

About 15-20 minutes in, I started spotting those beautiful yellow-green mustard fields. I asked the driver, bhaiyya, to pull over on the side of the road so that I could take pictures. I hopped out and strolled toward the mustard field. Thanks to Bollywood, I was excited to be amidst the Sarson ka khet and live out my DDLJ dream.

View of blooming mustard field

A picturesque view of blooming mustard fields on the way to Attari-Wagah Border

The Sarson Ka Khet was pure magic, and I get why Bollywood romanticises it. Who wouldn't want to run towards their Raj through those golden mustard fields bathed in sunlight? The field swayed in the cool breeze, and I went crazy capturing moments in pictures and videos.

The driver bhaiyya, was a gem, sharing insights on how mustard is cultivated. Despite being a local, he was as thrilled as I was to be at the Sarson Ka Khet. I even snapped a picture with him for the memories.

The Beating Retreat Ceremony At Wagah Border:

The patriotic spectacle of Attari-Wagah border parade executed by Indian BSF soldiers

A patriotic spectacle of Attari-Wagah border parade executed by Indian BSF soldiers 

15:15: The Attari-Wagah border between India and Pakistan is renowned for its daily flag-lowering ceremony. This vibrant spectacle, recognized as the Beating Retreat ceremony at the Wagah border, attracts visitors from across the nation and around the globe.

Getting there before 3:30 pm is advisable to get the prime seats and be closer to the gates to get the best view. Fortunately, I made it there just a quarter past three, giving me ample time for security checks and baggage deposit before entering the main arena.

Luck was on my side as I secured seats beside the designated area for foreign tourists, just a few metres away from the border gates, ensuring the best view for an unforgettable experience. The flag retreat ceremony starts around 4:15 pm in winter, and the total time of this ceremony is 45 mins.

Yes, your sentence is grammatically correct. However, for a slightly smoother floView of the crowd chanting patriotic chants at the Attari-Wagah border

Crowd chanting patriotic chants and cheering at the Attari-Wagah border

Tunes of patriotic songs echoed from both sides, and the crowd caught the patriotism fever. People were dressed in tricolour, some had their faces all painted up, and both grown-ups and kids were going full-on with the patriotic spirit. Phones were out, and people were recording the scene and clicking selfies.

Before we knew it, the ceremony kicked off with this pumped-up parade. The soldiers from India's Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan's Rangers were super aggressive and hyper-energetic. It was like watching a live-action showdown!

Spectacular Beating Retreat Ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border

Flag-lowering ritual at the Attari-Wagah border

As the sun was about to set, soldiers from both sides flawlessly synchronised the lowering of their respective nation's flags. The iron gates at the border swung open; flags were lowered simultaneously and then neatly folded. A solid handshake between the soldiers from both sides, followed by the closing of the gates again, marked the end of the ceremony.

It was indeed an experience of a lifetime. The electrifying atmosphere left a significant impact on me. In that moment, amidst the handshakes and smiles, I realised that we are all connected by our humanity despite our differences. I returned to the cab and headed back to Amritsar.

Total expense: Even though the local cuisine in Amritsar is top-notch, I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I had a sandwich for dinner, which cost me Rs.30, and I concluded Day 2 with a total expense of Rs.1730

Day 3

Crossing Borders And Entering Into Pakistan:

View of majestic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara

View of majestic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, Pakistan

The last day was the most memorable and unique day of my Amritsar Trip. Guess what? I stepped into Pakistan! Yeah, you read that right! Now, can Indians visit Pakistan? Let me clear this confusion and take you through my epic day trip to the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, where I visited the world-famous Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib. I had a day trip to the Kartarpur Sahib corridor to visit the world-famous Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, marking the shortest international trip one can ever experience!

What's special about the Kartarpur Corridor? Well, Kartarpur is where Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, spent his last years, making Sri Kartarpur Sahib a crucial Sikh shrine. Post-partition, this Gurdwara became part of Pakistan's territory. For decades, Indians travelled 125 km through Lahore to visit, despite the mere 30 kms distance between Amritsar to Pakistan border. Finally, in November 2019, the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims travelled to Kartarpur through this peace corridor, marking a historic moment.

View of majestic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara

A huge statue of Kirpan (daggar) inside the complex of Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara

How to reach Kartarpur Sahib Corridor: The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is roughly 65 km from Amritsar. To reach Kartarpur, head to Dera Baba Nanak, a small border town just 2 km from the Corridor. It hosts India's last bus stand and railway station before crossing into Pakistan. You'll encounter BSF Jawans in this area. Multiple transportation options are available to reach Dera Baba Nanak.

I chose the most economical option, a state bus to Dera Baba Nanak, priced at just Rs.60. While other alternatives like private buses, shared cabs, and private cars are available, they come at a slightly higher cost.

8:15: I departed from Amritsar Bus Stand. The journey to Kartarpur was incredibly scenic. Picture this - clear skies, crisp air, lush green fields bathed in the gentle morning sunlight, and scattered herds of cattle, which brought so many Bollywood songs to my mind.

Picturesque scenery on the way to Kartarpur

Picturesque scenery on the way to Kartarpur Corridor

10:00: I arrived at Dera Baba Nanak nearly two hours later. The Corridor is approximately 2 km from the bus stand, and one can opt for an E-auto at around Rs.40 (negotiable, of course!) or walk.

After verifying my essential documents - passports and ETA copies- I walked towards the terminal. The first sight of the Indian and Pakistan flags in the distance gave me goosebumps! Just the day before, I was at the Attari-Wagah border, and now, I was ready to cross international borders. Only a few people get to say they've been to Pakistan, and this exclusivity heightened my excitement even more.

Things to know before visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan

  • For this pilgrimage, one needs to register online well before the proposed travel date. You can register here.
  • All the pilgrims need to carry essential documents like passports and ETA.
  • Please note that this permit is valid only for one day. Visitors must return on the same day and stay on time. Also, pilgrims shall be allowed to visit only Sri Kartarpur Sahib and not anywhere else.
  • There's a luggage limit of 7 kg. One can carry food and drinking water.
  • The customs department allows you to take cash only up to INR 11,000
  • The last departure to Kartarpur is at 3 pm, and all visitors must return before sunset.
  • Fun fact: Indians can go to Pakistan through this Corridor, but Pakistanis cannot come to India with this Corridor.

Kartarpur Corridor Terminal: At the terminal, I gave my bag for screening and made my way to the immigration. After completing my formalities and paperwork, it was time to head to Pakistan and, more importantly, Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.

A golf cart that will take the pilgrims to the Zero line

Indian pilgrims all set to enter Pakistan through the Zero line, the border between India and Pakistan

Right outside the terminal, golf carts were waiting to take the pilgrims to the zero line, which is the border between India and Pakistan. Within a few seconds, I was at the checkpoint in Pakistan. I felt an adrenaline rush as I crossed the border and entered Pakistan!

And I was in Pakistan!

Welcome board at the India Pakistan border, Kartarpur

Greeting board at the Kartarpur border, fostering unity between India and Pakistan

The Pakistani soldiers warmly greeted me. I just paid the $20 entry fee in cash at the designated counter. I then proceeded to Pakistan immigration, where only a passport and no ETA are needed. Although passports are not stamped, they verify entry fee payment and provide a yellow "Yatree Tag." After completing the formalities, I boarded the waiting AC bus that took all of us to the Gurdwara.

The Gurudwara was truly heavenly! To enter the Gurdwara, you pass through a vast open area and long corridors to reach the main shrine. After enjoying the hymns, I briefly strolled and headed to the langar. The hall was clean and spacious, serving delicious food.

View of both Indian and Pakistani pilgrims unite in devotion

Both Indian and Pakistani pilgrims unite in devotion at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara

You can meet and greet fellow Pakistanis at the Gurdwara. Indians wear yellow tags, while Pakistanis wear blue or red ones. We discussed food, interests, work, Bollywood, and cricket of course! We even exchanged social media handles and clicked selfies. It's fascinating how similar certain aspects of both countries are!

Did you know? You can shop here and bring some Pakistani snacks on your way back. Yes, there's a shopping area at the Pakistani entrance with plenty of shops selling clothes, food, and handicraft items. I, being a foodie, grabbed some exclusive Pakistani biscuits, chocolates, snacks, and drinks. After this delightful experience, I returned to India. We took the bus from Dera Baba Nanak bus stand back to Amritsar.

15:00: Although we had quite an adventurous day today, I wasn't tired. It was my last day in Amritsar, and I couldn't resist the urge to take on a lassi challenge with my friends from the hostel. After all, lassi in Amritsar cannot be missed!

The Ultimate Lassi Showdown:

Lip-smacking lassi at a local shop in Amritsar

Lip-smacking, creamy lassi at a local shop in Amritsar

We went to Gian Di Lassi, a popular lassi spot. We challenged each other to finish a glass in 30 seconds to kick things off. Surprisingly, two friends finished theirs in 15 seconds while I struggled to drink even half of mine. Each glass of Amritsari lassi cost Rs.50.

This victorious duo suggested extending the challenge to strangers. We gathered three more people and asked the shopkeeper bhaiyya, for 5 glasses of Amritsari lassi, gearing up for this impromptu roadside showdown.

Everyone chugged the thick, creamy lassi as fast as possible as the timer began. We cheered them on enthusiastically, creating an energetic atmosphere. Ultimately, it was a tight competition between my friend and a stranger, but my friend emerged victorious by finishing every drop and savouring the malai from his glass.

If you're up for a lassi challenge with your friends, just like us, here are a few spots to get the best Lassi in Amritsar:

  • Gian Di Lassi
  • Ahuja Milk Bhandar
  • Pehalwan Lassi
  • Kanha Sweets
  • New Munim Di Hatti

Shopping In Amritsar - Every Shopaholic's Dream:

Intricately designed Amritsari Juttis at a local shop

Intricately designed Amritsari Juttis at a local shop in Hall Bazaar

18:00: After exploring Jallianwala Bagh, we were in the mood for some shopping and headed to the famous and vibrant market - Hall Bazaar. We were casually strolling, eyeing various shops. We girls were trying to buy those famous and intricately designed Phulkari dupattas. We also picked up some juttis to match our suits to complete the look.

The guys in our group had their eyes on something, too – they wanted to get some traditional karas, the bracelets that Sikh men wear as a symbol of their faith. We stumbled upon a local store with traditional Punjabi delights in the market, from Aam Papad (sun-dried mango pulp mixed with jaggery, concentrated sugar syrup, etc.) to Punjabi Masala papad. We loaded up on some treats there.

View of vibrant market of Amritsar

A view of Amritsar's vibrant and bustling market which comes alive at night

While everyone else was busy shopping, I stood in one spot, taking in the cityscape, soaking in the emotions of my last night here. I was dead tired after the day's adventures, but I couldn't get enough of its charm. It's my second visit, but there's still much more to see and do.

Total expense: With mixed emotions, I wrapped up my adventurous day 3 with a total expense of Rs. 2000. The whole trip was made in Rs.4195 (excluding shopping)

In conclusion, even on a tight budget, you can still have a blast in this vibrant city with this 3-days Amritsar itinerary. Due to the time crunch, I missed a few spots, like Jallianwala Bagh and Gobindgarh Fort. But they're on my list for the next trip! And hey, if you are looking for affordable accommodation in Amritsar, remember to check out The Hosteller, Amritsar.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs):

1. What is the best time to visit Amritsar? The best time to visit Amritsar is from September to March. During this period, the weather is very pleasant, making it ideal to explore the city’s tourist attractions. Summers can be exceptionally hot, so it is advisable to avoid travelling to Amritsar during this season.

2. What are the timings of the Golden Temple? The Golden Temple visiting hours vary depending on the season. Typically, visitors can pay their respects from 4 am to 10 pm every day of the week.

3. Is Wagah Border entry free? No entry passes or tickets are required to attend the Beating Retreat ceremony at the Wagah Border; it is open to all. Seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

4. How many days are sufficient for Amritsar? Amritsar, with its captivating history and numerous tourist attractions, is a charming city worth exploring. A recommended timeframe for your visit would be 2-3 days. Consider planning your upcoming trip with this awesome 3-days Amritsar itinerary.

5. Can we stay in Golden Temple at night? Visitors have the option to stay for free within the temple complex. The "Guru Arjan Dev Niwas" provides simple dormitory-style accommodation with shared bathrooms specifically designated for tourists, allowing a complimentary stay for up to 3 days. Additionally, there are several hotels and hostels available in the vicinity. For those seeking affordable accommodation in Amritsar, check out The Hosteller, Amritsar. 

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