Joining the Sikhs for their pilgrimage to Amritsar’s Golden Temple

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
0
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
8
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
9
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
4
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
82 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Asia
country
India
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 20
Time of year visited
November
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RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
22nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 10% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable

Summary

The golden temple itself, and the complex it forms part of, is impressive – gleaming marble paths, the exotic architecture of the surrounding buildings, and with the golden temple of 750kg gold sitting in the middle of a central lake.  But it is the overall experience of being so openly welcomed and very much part of this most sacred pilgrimage for thousands of Sikhs as you wash, eat and move en masse through their holiest site that makes this such a unique and unmissable experience

 

It’s very simple to join in. Simply rock up any time, no entrance fee, just take off your shoes and socks, wash your feet and borrow a head scarf that they provide. Then follow the crowds – they even feed you!

 

Whilst there isn’t that much else to see in Amritsar, and the Golden Temple is very much the highlight in this part of India, the nearby border crossing with Pakistan offers a very unusual display of transborder pomp as the two sides send in their tallest, most curly moustached soldiers to goose step at each other as they slowly lower their flags before the border closes . . . yes, super random.  Easy to get there – just get a taxi for the Attari-Wagah border and try to get their an hour before the start to get into the grandstand (yes, they have a grandstand).  Ceremony starts 530pm except for 430pm in winter

highlights

#1 Being so warmly welcomed into the crowds of pilgrims making their way to Sikhism's holiest site

#2 Seeing the Golden Temple itself in its stunning setting

#3 The bizarre border closing ceremony at Attari-Wagah - huge plooms, twisted tashes and lots of shouting. Unmissable if in the area

#4 Observing the various washing ceremonies as pilgrims prepare for their visit to the Golden Temple

#5 Chilling out with some of the very friendly locals . . . with swords

#6 Being fed! Nothing better than a bunch of curries on a metal tray

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone