Last Updated on August 6, 2023 by Christine Kaaloa
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I’m sharing a Beginner’s Guide to Amritsar’s Golden Temple and things travelers don’t know!
What would make a fearless Sikh warrior fall to his knees and drop his sword? Prayer.
Table of Contents: Beginner’s Guide to Amritsar’s Golden Temple (and Sleeping there!)
- 0.1 What is the Golden Temple Amritsar?
- 0.2 The Sikh Community and the Amritsar’s Golden Temple
- 0.3 Temple etiquette at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
- 1 Can foreigners eat at the Golden Temple in Amritsar for free?
- 2 Can you stay at Golden Temple in Amritsar for free?
What is the Golden Temple Amritsar?
The Golden Temple (aka Harmandir Sahib) was my long-awaited India highlight. Nestled in the Punjabi region of India and in the Sikh capital of Amritsar, I’ve been dying to see it live, ever since I saw a photo of it hanging in an Indian restaurant in Hawaii. The stunning golden building sitting on a lake looked like a sparkling magical gem. I wanted to see it, more than the Taj Mahal.
Pilgrims pray here, eat as a community here and they can even sleep here. The Golden Temple Amritsar provides all these services to its worshipping community.
Beyond it’s beauty, it’s still a working temple, attracting pilgrims around the globe. It even draws a larger daily crowd than the Taj Mahal.
Experiencing the Golden Temple is a beautiful experience. During the day, the pristine white marble of the surrounding temple fortress gives it a serene feeling. golden beauty that illuminates both, night and day.
Walk the temple grounds, as chants over the loudspeaker move pilgrims to solemn meditation. Watch as pilgrims descend the steps into the pool, to take a dipping cleanse in the Ganges pool.
Check out my my Amritsar 48 hour travel guide of things to do, see and eat and my Wagah Border Ceremony video
The Sikh Community and the Amritsar’s Golden Temple
As the spiritual centre and pilgrimage spot for the Sikh community, historically known as the fierce warrior class of India, the temple evolves from a warrior spirit that powerful but pure!
Sikhs must volunteer at the temple for at least one week in their lifetime, so you will undoubtedly witness volunteers devoutly performing their karmic duty.
Video of the Golden Temple Amritsar (below or if you can’t see this video, go here):
Temple etiquette at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
- You can’t go into any Indian temple without first, removing your shoes.
- Wash your feet at the entrance before entering.
- Men and women must cover their hair (10 ruppee bandana is sold for men; women bring a shawl or scarf)
- No smoking or drinking alcohol
- No photography allowed inside temple itself.
Can foreigners eat at the Golden Temple in Amritsar for free?
Yes, you can. The temple dining hall offers free meals and has one of the largest kitchens. Each week a family or several volunteers their time in the kitchen to help prepare meals for all the visitors that come to the temple. There is a donation box upon leaving if you care to make a small donation for your meal.
Eat everything on your plate, then take it to the volunteers to wash. There are also many restaurants near the temple.
Golden Temple Hours
The temple complex is open from 6AM until 2AM.
Can you stay at Golden Temple in Amritsar for free?
No, you have to pay, but the good news is that it is inexpensive.
Dorm accommodations at Golden Temple Amritsar
At the Golden Temple in Amritsar, you have the option to stay in either the dormitory or the hotel accommodations. The dormitory is a budget-friendly choice, perfect for those seeking a spiritual experience in a communal setting. It offers separate sections for men and women with sleeping arrangements. There are 12 dorm areas at the Golden Temple Amritsar.
The main booking desk is at Guru Arjan Dev Niwas. It’s not an easy site to navigate, so you might just want to show up. Here is a list of the sarai locations and a map. Bookings are on a first come first serve basis. Some dorms have spots for foreign travelers.
The cost for a night’s stay in the dormitory is minimal, typically around INR 200 to 300 per person. I do not know how well-maintained it is, but there are volunteers managing it to make sure all guests are comfortable. Keep in mind that locals come from all parts of India and occasionally from rural areas. Please be mindful of that and respect the conservative values around you.
Golden Temple Amritsar Hotel accommodations
The hotel accommodations provide a more private and luxurious stay. The rooms are well-appointed and equipped with modern amenities. The cost for a hotel room can range from INR 1,500 to 4,000, depending on the level of comfort and facilities. Both options grant you easy access to the Golden Temple, allowing you to participate in the early morning and evening prayers without any hassle. Staying within the temple premises is a unique and spiritually enriching experience, and many visitors have praised the serene atmosphere and the kindness of the staff, making it a memorable and peaceful stay.
Here’s a map of hotels near the Golden Temple.
How to Get to Amritsar’s Golden temple.
Arriving from the train station: There are free shuttle buses to the Golden Temple
How to Get to the Wagah Border Ceremony in Amritsar
Taxis to the Wagah Border Ceremony from Amritsar leave from Amritsar behind the Golden Temple. You should leave Amritsar by 3:30PM as it will be a 45 minute ride. A taxi might cost around 350 ruppees . An alternate option is to take a shared taxi which will cost about 80-100 rupees per person. Parking fees (around 100 ruppees) may be charged on top of that as your driver will need to park and wait for you.
You can also cross the border into Pakistan from the Wagah Attari Border
Where to Stay in Amritsar
Need more hotel options? See some of my picks and if you need more inspiration, check out Hotels near the Golden Temple
Amritsar’s Golden Temple (see blog info)
Backpacker’s Nest is a super affordable and welcoming hostel where you can meet fellow travelers. It’s perfectly located 700 meter walk from Golden Temple and the city’s main market.
Hotel Hong Kong Inn is a boutique hotel that’ll make you feel like you’re in the heart of India! It’s just a stone’s throw away from the Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh.
Luxury Hotels in Amritsar
Taj Swarna Amritsar The Taj has had a reputation over the years as a top-notch Indian hotel brand. Taj Swarna Amritsar is a luxurious retreat in the heart of Amritsar and yet a bit further in walking distance than the other hotels on this list. Golden Temple is 5.5km away. But it’s still got a great location and it’s the Taj!