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Did you know that the most visited place in the world is located in Incredible India? I’m sure your first guess is that the title belonged to the Taj Mahal but that’s not the case. While the Taj Mahal is beautiful, a must visit, there’s much more beyond it in India. The title of the ‘most visited place of the world’ by The World Book of Records (WBR), was awarded in 2017 to The Golden Temple in India, a Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab. The Golden temple in Amritsar, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, is one sacred site in India that you cannot miss since it is truly special, holds a lot of historical and interesting facts, plus also has the largest free community kitchen in the world.
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Inside the ‘most visited place in the world’: The Golden Temple in Amritsar
- 1.1 Why should you visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar?
- 1.2 When is the best time to visit the Golden Temple of Amritsa?
- 1.3 What should I wear to visit the Golden Temple?
- 1.4 At what time does The Golden Temple open and close?
- 1.5 My experience at the Langar in the Gurdwara of The Golden Temple in Amritsar
- 1.6 Exclusive Look inside the largest free community kitchen in the world.
Inside the ‘most visited place in the world’: The Golden Temple in Amritsar
This holy sikh temple will truly captivate your senses and take your breath away. I would say that even pictures and videos cannot do it justice, nor captivate what it feels like to step across the clear water upon entering this magnificent temple. Curious about visiting the golden temple and to learn more? Then, you have come to the right place! I hope to take you with me on a magical journey, including this exclusive look inside the majestuous Golden Temple.
Have you ever walked into a place and it’s automatically love at first sight? Just wow. Few words can describe how I actually felt. Let’s start with saying that The Golden Temple in Amritsar is such a spiritual place for individual reflection that it feels almost too personal to discuss. First, a few fun facts: The entire top of the Golden Temple is made out of pure gold and the temple is considered holy. It is also incredible to note that 35% of the pilgrims who visit The Golden Temple are from faiths other than Sikh.
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Why should you visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar?
In addition to the reasons I mentioned in my intro, you should visit The Golden Temple simply because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to feel a peacefulness that really can’t be found anywhere else. And the best part, in my opinion, is that everyone is welcome there! It is easy to love the beliefs they are build on. They welcome everyone regardless of religion, gender, economic status or ethnicity. This is why the temple is entered from four different sides to show openness and acceptance. This is the way we should all live and what we should preach and practice: Love and acceptance of everyone. Now, it’s easy to understand why 35% of visitors are from other faiths other than Sikh because they are accepted. Even so, this place is still a super meaningful and important site for Indian Sikhs since The Golden Temple is not only one of their oldest places of worship but also the holiest Gurdwara and the most important pilgrimage site of Sikhism.
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When is the best time to visit the Golden Temple of Amritsa?
The Golden Temple is majestic at any time of the day, but in addition to the obvious answer of visiting in the early hours, you’ll lose a truly ‘wow’ moment if you don’t visit during the evening. I would say that nighttime is the prime time to visit because it shines the brightest at night with the lights, giving The Golden Temple an extra golden shine. It is really a feast for the eyes and the soul. A most joyful experience!
In addition, best timing will also depend on how religious you are and what is the main goal of your visit. If you are the kind who wishes to avoid long lines, I would suggest that you visit either early morning (like at 4 AM) or late at night. On weekends, especially holiday weekends, it’s usually packed. To avoid crowds, try to avoid visiting during Sikh and Hindu festivals.
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Other cool facts:
During your visit, you can also appreciate the man-made lake around the temple which is known as ‘Amrit Sarovar’ translated as the ‘Pool of Holy Nectar.’ You will see an area where males are bathing inside the holy waters of the pool and there is also another private area for women (which is covered, so it’s not as visible to the public). Most visitors also drink the holy water from the pool, but in another area.
Curious about its design? The Golden Temple is one of the most significant symbols of Mughal and Indian architectural containing hand painted mosaics and patterns.
What should I wear to visit the Golden Temple?
Like in most temples in India, you need to dress modestly…wear nothing that’s too revealing on top and make sure it’s falling below your knees. I packed lots of loose bohemian style skirts and maxi dresses, plus I also bought others in India (since you can find great bargains!). Next, in order to enter the temple, everyone must cover their hair, regardless if you are a male or female. But no need to worry, at the entrance of the Golden Temple, they will provide you with a complimentary orange short wrap scarf to cover your hair. You can just return it on your way out. As a female, especially once obsessed with style, I chose to bring a cute scarf. I personally prefer to accessorize all of my outfits for a cuter, chic look. Scarves are always the perfect accessory to always have with you, especially when visiting many sites in India with similar restrictions; plus, it is the perfect solution for cooler nights.
You are also required to remove your shoes, but they have a place where they are kept and you’re given a number to pick them up at the end. Note: Be mindful with your photos and selfies. You are not allowed to be posing too much since it is a holy site. You can take pictures but with certain discretion. The guards will speak to you if they see that you are posing inappropriately or if you at some point show your hair. Best to keep your head covered as a sign of respect.
At what time does The Golden Temple open and close?
The Golden Temple is always open, 24 hours/7 days a week. At around 4.30 a.m., the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is carried from the Akal Takht to another part of the temple, around the main shrine. The first hukumnama (order of the day) is read at around 5 a.m., while the last is read at 9.45 p.m. Note: Langar is served (explained below) throughout the day.
My experience at the Langar in the Gurdwara of The Golden Temple in Amritsar
A peek inside the largest community kitchen in the world feeding over 100,000 people daily!
The Golden Temple has the largest langar in the world. Langar (Punjabi: ਲੰਗਰ) (kitchen) is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara, where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. This community kitchen feeds over 100,000 daily visitors and on special holidays such as, Diwali, even doubles up to 200,000 visitors.
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I had the opportunity to visit this Gurdwara at different times, during the day and nighttime, and the most special occasion was during the evening since it is not only impressive to look at (mentioned previously), but in addition, I got to enjoy a meal and even have exclusive access to enter the kitchen. It was amazing to be able to sit on the floor between people from all walks of life, religions, cultures, ethnicities to simply share a meal together.
I was sitting next to a new friend from Spain and also next to a Sikh man who was also a professor and started explaining the Sikh religion to me. The way they pray, and even kindly showed me around the temple afterwards, made this one of the best moments of my visit. I was just on time for the closing of the holy book and saw the ritual that’s performed during this time. Witnessing the installation or returning ceremony of the holy book of the Sikhs, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, are my most pleasant experiences of visiting the temple!
Exclusive Look inside the largest free community kitchen in the world.
The highlight of my visit to the Golden Temple of India was visiting the actual kitchen. It was impressive to see how they make this incredible amount of food to be able to feed so many people in one day. Wondering where do they get all the food from? Fun fact: It is all donated by faithful people.
To my surprise, the food was very tasty and everything was kept so clean and hygienic. At the entrance, you pick up a silver tray and silverware, then you go inside a big room, sit on the floor and they pass serving food several times an hour. You can eat as much as you like, as long as you do not waste food. They also pass by with a machine tank serving water on a silver bowl which you also receive at the entrance. Every 20 minutes the room gets cleared of people so that the following group, who is waiting outside on line, can enter. All goes pretty smoothly and in a very organized manner. Once the room starts to get cleared out, you see a volunteer passing with a machine throwing water and then sweeping the floor, so that it is always kept clean.
Behind the scenes in the kitchen, the volunteers are all helping each other in their assigned tasks, and all of the cooking happens in these huge pots. Needing to feed so many people at once, it’s no surprise. I got the opportunity to interact with many of the volunteers, who were all smiles while preparing the food, and no complaints. Truly epitomizing ‘service with a smile.’
In summary, people come to visit The Golden Temple from all over the world, many on pilgrimage, and some even sleeping inside, as many of the volunteers do as well, proof that there’s something indescribable found there.
If you have the opportunity to visit India, do not miss visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar. It is a truly unique and blissful experience. Amritsar is only 6 or 7 hours from Delhi, and there are many daily buses or trains to take you there. In addition, there are lots of things to do in the city of Amritsar, among my favorite being eating, drinking lassis, shopping, a food tour and a heritage city bicycle tour with City on Pedals. Lots of fun and peace all in one place, which is hard to find!
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