Tourism in Indian Punjab centres around the historic palaces, battle sites, great Sikh architecture of the state and the surrounding region. Examples include various sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, the ancient fort of Bathinda, the architectural monuments of Kapurthala, Patiala, and Chandigarh, the modern capital designed by Le Corbusier. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is one of the major tourist destination of Punjab and indeed India, attracting more visitors than the Taj Mahal, Lonely Planet Bluelist 2008 has voted the Harmandir Sahib as one of the world’s best spiritual sites. Moreover, there is a rapidly expanding array of international hotels in the holy city that can be booked for overnight stays.
Golden Temple: The holy city of Amritsar, where the Harmandir Sahib is located, has a rapidly expanding modern airport called Amritsar International Airport. The airport can be reached directly by the international traveller from most major cities of the world including London and Toronto. Moreover, there is a rapidly expanding array of international hotels in the holy city that can be booked for overnight stays. Lonely Planet Bluelist 2008 has voted the Harmandir Sahib as one of the world’s best spiritual sites. Most Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Harmandir Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly and mostly during special occasions in their life such as birthdays, marriages, childbirth, etc.
Wagah Border: Wagah is the only road border crossing between Pakistan and India, and lies on the Grand Trunk Road between the cities of Lahore and Amritsar. The Wagah border, often called the “Berlin wall of Asia”, is a ceremonial border on the India–Pakistan Border where each evening there is a retreat ceremony called lowering of the flags, which has been held since 1959. At that time there is an energetic parade by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Pakistan Rangers soldiers. It may appear slightly aggressive and even hostile to foreigners but in fact the paraders are imitating the pride and anger of a Cockerel. Troops of each country put on a show in their uniforms with their colorful turbans. Border officials from the two countries sometimes walk over to the offices on the other side for day to day affairs. The happenings at this border post have been a barometer of the India-Pakistan relations over the years.
With over 8000 people visiting the border on an average day just on the Indian side, governments have started developing Wagah as a tourist destination, improving tourist and custom facilities. The Indian government plans to develop a global tourist complex at the Wagah-Attari border, which lies 30 km away from Amritsar.
Jallianwala Bagh: The Jallianwala Bagh site is witness to one of the most brutal incidents that took place during the Indian freedom struggle. This incident still fills the minds of the people with anguish. The Jallianwala Bagh incident played an important role in giving a definite direction to the Indian freedom movement. Hence to pay homage to the thousands killed in this incident, the Jallianwala Bagh was built. The garden site of the massacre is located in the vicinity of Golden Temple complex, the holiest shrine of Sikhism.
Rock Garden: The Rock Garden or Rock Garden of Chandigarh is a Sculpture garden in Chandigarh, India, also known as Nek Chand’s Rock Garden after its founder Nek Chand, a government official who started the garden secretly in his spare time in 1957. Today it is spread over an area of forty-acres, it is completely built of industrial and home waste and thrown-away items. It is situated near Sukhna Lake. It consists of man-made interlinked waterfalls and many other sculptures that have been made of scrap and other kinds of wastes (bottles, glasses, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, etc) which are placed in walled paths.
List of Some Must visit places, and experience in punjab
When in Amritsar, do grab a bite of Amritsari Naan and papads(a special kind of chapati)
Do taste Lassi, the staple drink of Punjab. Prepared from thick curd, it has both sweet and salty flavors and make sure you have it chilled.
Experience the typical Punjabi khatirdari (hospitality) at The Heritage Village located in the outskirts of Jalandhar
If you are an NRI Punjabi, make sure you carry back the holy water from The Golden Temple that is believed to have healing powers. Also, your visit to the shrine would be incomplete without having Langar (food at the common kitchen).
If you are a food freak, then Punjab is the place to be. Your meal would be incomplete without the Sarson da Saag and Makki di Roti.
Your shopping list must include the ethnic Punjabi jutti (shoe), done in fancy mirror work.
If you are wondering where to go on a Saturday evening, you can visit the following happening spots in town—Sector 17 in Chandigarh, Lawrence road in Amritsar and Crossing No. 22 in Patiala.
Check out the latest trends in fashionware and pick up some ethnic salwaar kameez (ladies wear), lehngas and phulkari (embroidered dupatta for weddings)
In case you get a chance, do attend a Punjabi wedding. It is an occasion where you can get a feel of the traditions, folkdances (bhangra and giddha), music and of course food-that goes without saying!
It will always be a unique travel experience even if you visit during different parts of the year. Like in spring season, trekking through the rural landscape would be a delight. If you happen to visit in winters, don’t leave without participating in Lohri celebrations.