The name of the city derives from the name of the pool around the Golden Temple (aka Harmandir Sahib) and means "holy pool of nectar" (Amrit: elixir; Sar: (short for sarovar) lake). It is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion, and they are rightfully very proud of the city and their very beautiful and unique Gurdwara (place of worship). The Golden Temple was initiated by Guru Ramdas Ji, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed in 1601 by his successor Guru Arjan Dev Ji. It is now a major pilgrimage and tourism center.
Tourist Attractions in Amritsar:
Golden Temple: is the main attraction in the city, and the most important religious place to the Sikhs. It's a stunning complex, and always full of thousands of pilgrims from all over India, excited to be at a place that they usually only see on television. The excitement to be here is infectious, and many people will be more than happy to tell you all about their religion and customs, and show you around the temple itself.
Ghanta Ghar: This is the main entrance, sporting a distinctly Victorian clock-tower. Wash your feet in the water at the entrance in order to keep the temple clean.
Amrit Sarovar: The giant pool of water that surrounds and reflects the Golden Temple. Sections (marked off by ropes) are set aside for (male) pilgrims wishing to bathe.
Harmandir Sahib: This is the Golden Temple itself, floating above the Amrit Sarovar, housing the sacred Adi Granth scripture which is recited out loud during the day. This is the most crowded point, accessible by a bridge from the edge of the pool, and entry here is regulated by traditionally dressed Sikh guards. It's a 2 story structure where Sikh saints are seated on each floor.
Akal Takht: directly opposite the Harmandir Sahib. Meaning "The Timeless", this is where the highest council of Sikhs sits and deliberates. At night, the Guru Granth Sahib is taken to the Akal Takht.
Central Sikh Museum, 2nd floor (entrance on the right side of the main side of the main entrance). Devoted to large gallery of paintings, mostly showing the gruesome ways countless Sikhs have been martyred, and various knick-knacks from the gurus. Free.
Jallianwala Bagh: (Garden) is a short 5-minute walk from the Golden Temple, and is the site of the 1919 Amritsar massacre. On April 13 of that year, British Indian Army soldiers opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. The firing lasted about 10 minutes and 1650 rounds were fired, killing 1579 people. A memorial was built on the site and inaugurated by the then-President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on 13 April 1961. to this day the bullet holes can be seen on the walls and adjoining buildings. The well into which many people jumped and drowned attempting to save themselves from the hail of bullets is also a protected monument inside the park.
Wagah Border: India–Pakistan border closing ceremony (Attari-Wagah), (32km from Amritsar). 4:00PM-5:00PM. Indian and Pakistani soldiers do a march-off every evening, a popular and fun event.
Wagah Border is the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. People visit Wagah border to see "Beating the Retreat" ceremony performed by the soldiers in the evening. Wagah Border is an important army outpost between Amritsar and Lahore. One can walk along the paved path to the main gates and take photos of the crowd lining the pathway before or after the ceremony.
Mata Temple: is a labyrinthine like Hindu cave temple devoted to the female saint Lal Devi. Traditionally, women wishing to become pregnant come here to pray. The roundabout path to the main temple passes through low tunnels, caves full of ankle-deep water, inclined walkways, and mirrored hallways that make the experience seem more like a funhouse than a place of worship. The colors, wide variety of deities, and elaborate mirrored image make this a psychedelically unique temple. Highly recommended! This is called Sheesh Mahal, and some people also seem to call it "Lal Devi."
Summer Palace: of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is in the Ram Bagh park. Now the palace houses a museum, exhibiting oil paintings, miniatures, coins and weapons from the Sikh period. In this park is the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, so ask, if you are at the right museum.
Ram Tirth: is a short distance of 11 kms outside the city. Consecrated by the appearance of Devi Sita, Ram Tirth had been a witness to the birth of the sons of King Rama. Making a special place in the holy scripts of ancient religions, the place was once the ashrama of saint Valmiki. The saint is believed to have scripted many of his sacred manuscripts at this place. A hut of Rishi Valmiki is still found at Ram Tirth where he once lived. After giving birth to Luv and Kush, Devi Sita used to stay at this place for a considerable period of time. The evidence of her stay still exists in the form a well which, it is believed, was dug by Hanuman. Devotees of King Rama and Devi Sita flock to this place every year to offer their prayers to the respective deities. As the locational position of the Ram Tirth is facilitated by easy accessibility, hence, the visitors conveniently reach this place of worship without any extra hassles.