If this is the first time you are coming to Punjab, you might as well want to plan your trip to visit a variety of places and discover the flavors of Punjab as a travel experience. In case you do not have a planned itinerary, the best way to start is to find out the 20 most interesting places to explore. Read on to know how you can make for a memorable trip if you have never been to Punjab before.
Golden Temple, Amritsar
The architecture of the temple is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles. The Holy Scripture of the Sikhs, the Granth Sahib, is installed in the inner sanctum of the temple. The scripture is unique as it contains the divine message as received by saints, bhagats (devotees) and pirs of all the faiths of India. The temple was destroyed in 1761 by the Muslim invader Ahmad Shah Durani and was rebuilt in 1802 by the Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) in marble and gold (its dome took 400kg of gold leaf to be covered). Since then, it has been known as the Golden Temple . The Sikhs usually refer to it as the Hari Mandir (the temple of God) or Darbar Sahib (the Court of the Lord).
The birthplace of Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib , is located on the left bank of the Sutlej river, 40 kilometers from Rupnagar town. The town was founded by Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru who purchased the land from the Raja of Bilaspur.
Guru Gobind Singh came to this town in 1674 when he was only eight years old and he spent about 25 years, the major part of his life in Anandpur Sahib. Gurudwara Keshgarh Sahib is the most important of the shrines as it is here that Khalsa was created by him in 1699 on the day of Baisakhi (13th April). Also, it is at this historical spot that the Kashmiri Pandits approached the 9th Guru, Shri Teg Bahadur to save them form oppression by the Moguls.
Jallianwallah Bagh, Amritsar
Located at about a quarter of mile from the Golden Temple, it is a Memorial of the Freedom movement. It commemorates the sacrifices of hundreds of men, women and children who were victims of a ruthless firing on April 13, the dark day of 1919. Thousands of people were fired on General Dyer's diktat. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre accentuated political awakening in India and brought Mahatma Gandhi to the forefront of Indian political life. The bullet marks can be seen to this day on the boundary walls of the garden. The bullet scarred walls of the well-kept garden, today, enclose a memorial with an eternal flame, dedicated to the martyrs and has become a place of pilgrimage.
Chattbir Zoo, Zirakpur
Located at a distance of 20 km from Chandigarh and 55 km from Patiala is the Zoological Park, Chhatbir. The park area is spread over 202 Acres of raw scrubland over River Ghaggar. It houses 52 species of animals including the royal tiger of Bengal and the Himalyan black bear and 62 species of birds in a simulated natural habitat. Popular for its Lion Safari, it is the biggest park of its kind in India.
Sainik School, Kapurthala
It is a magnificent piece of architecture that took 8 years to complete(1900-1908). This erstwhile palace of Maharaja Jagatjit was designed by the French architect M. Marcel. It was built in renaissance style with the sunken park in the front (known as Baija) with plaster of Paris figures and painted ceilings representating of French art and architecture.
The enchanting spectacle of the beating retreat followed by the change of guard in the evening, within handshaking distance of the Pakistan border drives attention to this place. The border, located 25 km from Amritsar City and near Attari village, draws thousands of domestic and international tourists every year.
Harike Wildlife Sanctuary
Harike wetland , a shallow water storage reservoir, was initially developed with the purpose of storing and providing irrigation and drinking water to parts of Southern Punjab and adjoining state of Rajasthan. The construction of a barrage at the confluence of Beej and Sutlej river gave the wetland its constant water supply. Prior to this construction, the area was primarily a marshy pond with aquatic vegetation and wildlife. The wetland area is spread over a vast expanse of about 148sq.km and is located approximately 55km south of Amritsar , 83km from Jalandhar , 70 km from Kapurthala , 56 km from Ferozpur and 15O km from Chandigarh North West, and has both road and rail transport (the nearest railway station is Makhu 5 km away from Harike).
Qila Mubarak is the highest and oldest monument in Punjab dating back to 1800 years when Raja Binepal built it. The place has an interesting history. The first women Emperor Razia Sultana was imprisoned here in 1239 AD by the then Governor Altunia. Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, drove a monster away in 1705, while Maharaja Ala Singh of Patiala state captured this fort in 1754. Known earlier as Bakramgarh, this fort now also has a Gurudwara on top, constructed by Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala.
Also known as Guru Ki Kashi , it is the fifth Takht of the Sikhs, the other four being Akal Takht ( Amritsar ) Takht Keshgarh Sahib ( Anandpur ) Takht Hazur Sahib (Nanded, Maharashtra) and Takht Harimandir Sahib (Patna, Bihar). Guru Gobind Singh arrived here in the 18th century camped outside the village. The magnificent Gurudwara Sri Damdatna Sahib marks the place of his stay. The other sacred place at Talwandi Sabo are, Jand Sahib, Tibbi Sahib, Likhansar and Gurusar. Besides, there are two Gurdwaras in memory of the ninth Guru Sri Tegh Bahadur, known as Wada Darbar Sahib and Gurusar.
Aam Khas Bhag
One look at this beautiful garden amidst its ruins leaves you mesmerized. The garden with its high walls, and flowing water, built by Mogul Emperor Akbar, and developed later by Jahangir and Shah Jahan, was a public space, with an exclusive section for the Emperor Shah Jahan. The garden derives its name from the urdu word aam which means the public space, while Khas refers to the special section. Initially, there were double-storeyed royal pavilions, baths, underground water-cooled chambers, and plenty of accommodation for travelers. The royal section included a large water tank, a palace with beautiful walls and elaborate fountains.
This beautiful and spacious mausoleum is a national historic monument, for Sunni Muslims, and visited annually by thousands of Naqshbandi Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and India. In the premises of the mausoleum, there are tombs and cenotaphs apart from a mosque. One such grand cenotaph is of King Shah Zaman of Afganistan. The magnificent and spacious Rauza commemorates the burial place of Mujadid-alf-Saani Sheikh Ahmed Farooqi, Kabul, Sirhindi who lived during the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir from 1563 to 1634. The Rauza also contains scalloped arches, framed domes and minarets. During Urs in the month of August, Muslims from all over the world come here to pay homage.
Sector17 Market, Chandigarh
The main shopping and commercial centre of Chandigarh is Sector 17. This vast commercial complex is a padestrian's paradise with four main piazzas meeting at a 'chowk'. Airconditioned showrooms and departmental stores cater to the needs of shoppers. Government Emporia, innumerable shops, eateries, coffee houses, bars and pubs offer something for every visitor.
Sector 17 is also the hub of the town where important government offices of Punjab, Haryana and UT such as Estate Office Chandigarh, Udyog Bhawan Punjab, Central Income Tax building, Accountant General Punjab building and Haryana Mini - Secretariat and the Chandigarh District Courts are located.
Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Amritsar
Situated initially within 84 acres of rare plants, trees and flowers, with a boundary wall and a moat, this palace was constructed at a cost of
Rs. 1,25,000. The British converted the surrounding clusters of structure into clubs and libraries, and the lawns into tennis courts. The unique design of the Darshani Deori palace has four two storied towers, and two tanks, one connecting the palace with water channels fitted with fountains and the other with air-conditioning pipes circuiting the outer walls, apart from the bathing tanks of the double storied part of the residence. You will still find today some of the paintings and mirror work on the roofs.
The Shish Mahal, Patiala
It was built in the reign of Maharaja Narinder Singh (1845-1862) in a forest with terraces, gardens, fountains and an artificial lake. Sheesh Mahal, has a suspension bridge which has a pattern similar to that of the Lakhsman Jhula at Rishikesh. The palace has galleries displaying antique paintings, bronzes, sculptures and portraits of the Maharajas of Patiala . The gallery which displays the world's largest collection of medals, decoration and orders of various countries is a must see.
Sanghol, District Fatehgarh Sahib
Relics of the Harappan culture (6th Century AD) and the Kushan era (1-2th Century AD) are the major attractions of this ancient place.
This schooner shaped fort has been designed specifically to suit the desert environment. Reputed to be 1800 years old, it is said to have been built by Bhatti Reo. In 1754 AD, it was captured by Maharaj Ala Singh of Patiala. A small gurdwara commemorates the visit of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji here.
Shahpur Kandi Fort, Pathankot
A rest-house today, this 16th century fort overlooks the river Ravi and is at the foot of the Himalayas.
Kanjli Wetland, Kapurtala
At a distance of 5 km from Kapurthala is the rivulet of Bein, which is surrounded by natural scenery. The Maharaja of Kapurthala had built a lake after making a barrage on river Kali Bein. Joined by many rivulets, the beautiful lake is still there. On the left side of lake lies a green forest with some wildlife. Also located on the banks of the lake is the Villa Buona Vista whose design is reminiscent of French architecture. Today it is inhabited by the present descendant of Maharaja. The lake is not just the beautiful home for migratory birds in winters, but has been developed as a popular picnic spot. You can even go boating in the lake. The wetland extends in the area of about 50 acres and is a habitat to about 40-50 bird species and was declared a wetland of national importance in the year 1992 on account of the rich biodiversity it supported. Kanjli and Kapurthala are the nearest districts.
Catholic Cathedral, Jalandhar
This rare cathedral built by the representatives of His Holiness, the Pope is the one of its kind in the East. Its cosmo-cultural design is a tribute to the Punjabi tradition.
Bhakra Dam, Nangal
Divided into Nangal Township and Naya Nangal, Nangal gained importance with the construction of Bhakra Dam on Satluj river in November, 1955. The multi purpose Bhakra Project which includes (apart from Bhakra Dam), the Nangal Dam, Nangal Hydel Channel, Ganguwal and Kotla Power Houses has contributed majorly to the town's prosperity.