Visit Amritsar's Golden TempleAmritsar, Punjab
Just 28 kilometers from the Pakistan border in the state of Punjab, Amritsar in all its splendour and golden glory can be found. This bustling city full of bazaars, sights, sounds and smells is the spiritual capital of the Sikhs.
Amritsar gained its name meaning "Holy Tank of Nectar of Immortality" from the body of water surrounding the magnificent Golden Temple, the most sacred site for Sikhs. While Armirtsar may not be a household name to many travellers, it should be and is well worth adding to your India itinerary.
The Golden Temple is covered in 400 kilograms of glistening gold, surrounded by a serene sarovar (pond), and home to one of the biggest community kitchens (langar) in the country that serves up to 50,000 people a day. This giant kitchen is staffed by volunteers who churn out roti, rice, daal and vegetables to all who wait. The institution of the Sikh langar was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, whose intention was to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status.
Though visitors make a beeline for the temple, the old-world character and charm of the city is also alluring, not to mention the quality of Punjabi food on offer – butter-drenched paranthas (Indian flatbread), dahi-balla and aloo-tikki (deep-fried savouries), Makki di roti and sarson da saag, and butter chicken are home grown favourites that must be sampled.
For a truly authentic and immersive experience you can actually stay in the dorm inside the temple. Bedding is basic and is by donation. For a dose of good karma why not pay it forward and volunteer in the largest communal kitchen in the world.