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Few cities on earth are as closely linked to one religion as Amritsar, the sacred city of the Sikhs. Established in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Ram Das, Amritsar is to Sikhs what Varanasi is to Hindus. As well as being the focal point of the Sikh religion and the setting for the most important Sikh shrine, the Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, the city also played a pivotal role in the downfall of the British Raj. Support for the fledgling Indian independence movement was galvanized by the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. After the Golden Temple, other important sights include the museum at Ram Bagh, in the former home of the local ...

Few cities on earth are as closely linked to one religion as Amritsar, the sacred city of the Sikhs. Established in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Ram Das, Amritsar is to Sikhs what Varanasi is to Hindus. As well as being the focal point of the Sikh religion and the setting for the most important Sikh shrine, the Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, the city also played a pivotal role in the downfall of the British Raj. Support for the fledgling Indian independence movement was galvanized by the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. After the Golden Temple, other important sights include the museum at Ram Bagh, in the former home of the local Maharaja, and a series of striking Hindu temples. During the 1980s, Amritsar was put forward as the potential capital for an independent Sikh nation, but support for the Khalistan movement waned after the siege at the Golden Temple in 1984. Today, the city is becoming increasingly successful thanks to its international airport and the remittances sent home by Sikhs working abroad.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October to March, particularly October/November for the Guru Nanak Jayanti festival