The heartland of India’s Sikh culture is a region of flamboyant festivals, magnificent temples, wildlife reserves, warm hospitality and mouthwatering cuisine.
Discover sacred gurdwaras (temples), delectable cuisine, extravagant celebrations and the infectious sounds of Bhangra pop music in Punjab state. Punjab sits at the confluence of five rivers in northwestern India. It is home to India’s largest Sikh population, whose hospitality and energetic spirit resonates throughout the state’s charming towns and cities.
Punjab’s main tourist center is Amritsar, a city with glorious temples and bustling bazaars. Mingle with pilgrims at Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the spell-binding Golden Temple. Experience the chaos of colorful shopping districts such as Guru Bazar and Katra Jaimal Singh market. Take a side trip to nearby Atari to view high kicks and handshakes at the daily India-Pakistan border-closing ceremony.
On the eastern border is Chandigarh, the City Beautiful, the capital of both Punjab and Haryana yet geographically part of neither. Explore a planned city of sweeping boulevards and pristine gardens, including the Rock Garden, Garden of Fragrance and Rose Garden.
Visit the Harike Bird Sanctuary, a natural habitat for 375 species of native and migratory birds. Go to Jalandhar and enjoy family-friendly fun at the Pushpa Gujral Science City. Walk in the footsteps of the Sikh maharajas at the lavish Qila Mubarak palace in Patiala. Find another colossal Qila Mubarak in Bathinda, one of Punjab’s oldest cities.
During festival season Punjab’s streets fill with extravagant parades and pulsating Bhangra music. Widely celebrated events include January’s Festival of Lohri’s bonfires, April’s Baisakhi Festival and the spring Hola Mohalla. Sample tasty Punjabi food, which is rich in tangy tandoori flavors. Traditional dishes are chicken tandoori and kulcha (stuffed flatbread).
Reach Punjab by flying to Amritsar or Chandigarh or ride India’s famous railways to the state’s major destinations. February to April and September to November are great times to visit, when temperatures are mild and rainfall is low. For another adventure, head north to Pathankot, a frontier city near the Shivalik Hills. It’s the gateway to the mountainous region of Himachal Pradesh and the isolated Jammu and Kashmir.