1. Golden Temple
Known to be the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikhs, Amritsar is an iconic city in the Indian state of Punjab. It gloriously portrays the well famed and heroic character of Punjab. Steeped in culture and religion, it is home to Sikhism’s holiest shrine – The Golden Temple.
This city has left its indelible prints in the golden pages of Indian history as well as it is the ground where the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place. Also, it is geographically situated with close proximity to the Wagah Border, which is the only road border between India and Pakistan. This site is enough to evoke patriotism and love for your mother nation. While the former takes you back in time to India’s struggle for freedom, the latter displays its present-day relationship with its neighbour.
In spite of that, it has thrived through thick times and emerged victoriously. Now it claims to be one of the most visited hot-spots for tourists. This is due to the presence of a multitude of religious sites and tourist spots, it is now a prominent devout destination in the country. The lip-smacking delicacies and generous scoops of legendary Punjabi hospitality further casts an exceptional spell upon the visitors. Temples that date back to the times before the Christ Era to the ones from the Medieval Period, the temples in Amritsar have a story to tell and a sight to behold. Thronged by masses of pilgrims and devotees on a regular basis, Amritsar experiences a heavy rush during the festive seasons.
If you do not believe the hearsay, then go ahead and pay a visit to this charming city. You will be enchanted with its charm and vivaciousness.
Accounted to be one of the most spiritual places in India, Golden Temple, is considered the holiest shrine for Sikhs. It is also referred to as Sri Harmandir Sahib and is alive with religious fervour and sacredness. After a tumultuous period of demolitions, it was again rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, from pure marble and gold. The prime focus in the premises is the tank, the Amrit Sarovar, which surrounds the glistening central shrine. The name Amritsar is derived from this Amrit Sarovar, which was excavated by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das in 1577. Since it enjoys a strategic position of being right in the heart of Amritsar, it is easily accessible from any part of the city.
In spite of the thousands of people milling about in the premises of the temple, the only voice you will hear around you is silence interspersed with chants of the Sikh prayers. Golden Temple is indisputably one of the most exquisite attractions in the world, its divinity can only be felt and not described.
2. Shri Durgiana Temple
Shri Durgiana Temple is also called as the Lakshmi Narayan Temple. It accounts to be the next most pious shrine in Amritsar after The Golden Temple. It is in fact much similar to the Golden Temple in its construction and appearance. The chief deity in the temple is Goddess Durga, nonetheless, it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laksmi as well.
The temple is located in the middle of a water body and one can also find a ghat where pilgrims can take a dip in. It is believed that dipping in these holy waters would erase all the sins from your previous births. The architecture of the temple boasts of exquisite build featuring enormous silver doors and marble walls. It was basically constructed in the turn of the 16-century, however, due to improper maintenance, it turned into shambles. Again in the year 1921, it was renovated by Guru Harsai Mal Kapoor and now stands affirm as you see it today.
The temple provides daily langar (free supper) for devotees and visitors. The main festivals that are celebrated here with great enthusiasm are Dussehra, Janmashtami, Ram Navami, and Diwali.
3. Mukteswar Mahadev Temple
Lying on the banks of River Ravi, it is basically a cave temple. It has been carved out of a single hill and is found at the base of the hill. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple is also enshrined by the idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Hanuman, and Goddess Parvati.
According to legend, it is said that the Pandavas used to spend some of their time at this time while they were away in exile. Since then it has been revered by hundreds of worshippers who regularly visit this holy shrine to seek blessings. The serenity and calmness that the temple offers adds to the sacred atmosphere.
Some of the important festivals that are celebrated around the year are Chaitya Chodiya in the months of February and March, Navrathri that runs for nine days in the month of October and Mukesran Da Mela. This is actually fair, which marks the arrival of renowned Baisakhi, which is one of the most vital festivals in the state of Punjab. Plan to visit this temple before evening hours and you are in luck if you are here on a Monday. As on Monday’s a special aarti is conducted exclusively for the worship of Lord Shiva.
4. Akal Takht
Akal Takht literally translates to the ‘Throne of the Immortal’, in which ‘Akal’ refers to the Timeless One and ‘Takht’ means the throne. It is regarded as a vital seat in Sikhism with immense significance given to religious and political history. It is situated just opposite the Golden Temple and is planned in a constructive manner with a height slightly lower to the temple that shows the order of importance. Several edicts and preaching based on the principles of Sikhism are announced from here. It is basically a precious symbol of political sovereignty and justice, where the spiritual and earthly concerns of the Sikh people can be addressed and followed-up.
It accounts to be one of the five takhts or seats of power of the Sikh religion. Constructed by the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind and is situated within the Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara Complex. The existing structure is a five storey building, laid with immaculate white marble and gold-leafed dome. It is presently located in the Harmandir Sahib Complex, this building faces the Darshini Deorhi, which leads to the Golden Temple.
Of all the five takhts established by the panth (community), Akal Takht is supposedly the supreme. Then after, it is followed by Keshgarh Sahib, Patna Sahib, Hazur Sahib and lastly Damdama Sahib. The original structure of Akal Takht was built by Guru Hargobind Sahib, Bhai Gurdas Ji, and Baba Budha Ji. It also serves as the central altar for the Sikh Political Assembly.
History states that Guru Hargobind Ji used to sit on this raised platform with all marks of royalty and from here dispensed justice for all the disputes that occurred in the Sikh community. One can see the two tall flags in the inner courtyard even today which symbolizes the two swords of Guru Hargobind. This represents his spiritual authority (Piri) and earthly power (Miri). It is also said that the elevated platform inside stands as a symbol of rebellion against Emperor Jehangir, who had a given rule that only an Emperor can sit on a raised platform.
The elegance and charm of this temple have been compared to the famous Piazza Saint Marco in Venice.
5. Mata Lal Devi Temple
Mata Lal Devi Temple is popularly known as Sheesh Mahal or Mirror Mahal of Amritsar. It is hugely famous for its miraculous fertility-improving powers amongst the Hindu pilgrims. Women from across the country visit this mystic temple in order to seek blessings to bear a child, as this temple is famed for having mysterious abilities to uplift the rate of fertility among women.
The temple is dedicated to the female saint Lal Devi and is considered a miniature version of the popular Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu and Kashmir. The temple is entirely decorated with shimmering mirror works that enlighten the space through the reflecting sunlight and numerous hand-made lamps.
The idols of many other deities are placed on the inner courtyard of the complex. As you walk through the temple, you will see many artefacts, idols, statues, and paintings that throw light upon the life history of Saint Lal Devi.
The temple has carnival-like, bright coloured deities and stairways leading to narrow watery caves. Even the doors are shaped like a large snake and lion heads. This temple is a major attraction for foreign tourists. Even visitors without a religious inclination find this temple quirky due to its magical capabilities.
6. Ram Tirth, Amritsar
Located 11 Kilometres west of Amritsar on Chogawan road, this temple dates back to the period of the Ramayana. It is the hermitage of Rishi Balmiki. The place has an ancient tank and many temples. A hut marks the site where Mata Sita gave birth to Luv and Kush and also, still extant are Rishi Balmiki’s hut and the well with stairs where Mata Sita used to take her bath. A four-day fair, since times immemorial is held here, starting on the full moon night in November.
7. Bhagwathi Mandir, Maisar Khanna, Bathinda City
Its history goes back to the 17th Century AD. This temple is located in a village that was called Khanna. People from this village were the devotees of Jawala Mukhi temple in Kangra. Once, when Kamala Bhagat and another holy person, Kali Nath of this village were proceeding towards the Jawala Mukhi temple, Bhagwati Mata, the deity of Jawala Mukhi appeared before them, almost two kilometers before their destination. She blessed them and told Kamala Bhagat that in future, he need not come to a pilgrimage to Jawala Mukhi because worship at his village will be sanctified as his worship at her abode. Since then a religious fair is held at this place twice in a year.
8. Shiv Mandhir, Gur-mandi, Jalandhar
This Mandir dates back to the Lodhi Era. It is said that the Nawab of Sultanpur Lodhi, in whose territory the city of Jalandhar then fell, eyed a newly-married Hindu girl. He wanted to make her an object of his lust. She was a devotee of lord Shiva whose serpent saved her honour. Awed by the appearance of this serpent, the Nawab begged forgiveness from the girl and on her bidding got this temple built. The temple has an unusual architecture. Its main gate is built in the style of a mosque while the rest of the building is in Hindu style.
9. Sodal Mandir, Jalandhar
It is believed that all prayers at this temple of the child deity get fulfilled. Thousands of devotees congregate here during the month of September.
10. Panch Mandir, Kapurthala
Constructed by the founder of the Kapurthala State, Fateh Singh Ahluwalia, this is an example of striking architecture. The prime dome in the centre is surrounded by several smaller temples dedicated to different deities. A replica of this temple was exhibited in the pre-partition Punjab Museum at Lahore.
11. Kali Devi Temple, Patiala
Situated opposite Baradari garden on the Mall Road of Patiala, this temple was built by the rulers of the Patiala State. Because of its beautiful wall paintings and icons the temple has been declared a national monument.