Although Diwali is observed across India, the Hindu festival of lights is arguably at its most mesmerizing against the backdrop of the Golden Temple, Amritsar’s architectural centerpiece and the holiest pilgrimage site in Sikhism. A Punjabi adage has it that “home-cooked food and Amritsar’s Diwali have no parallels,” and it’s no accident that the latter coincides with the Sikh festival Bandi Chhor Divas, which this year falls on October 30. After sunset, tens of thousands of revelers will stream into the temple’s vast marbled complex—by then festooned with a multitude of shimmering lights—to watch a blaze of fireworks over the gilded shrine and its surrounding spring-fed pool, from which the city takes its name. —James Louie
Apart from air connections to India’s major cities, Amritsar can be reached by nonstop flights from Singapore on Scoot and from Kuala Lumpur on Malindo Air.
Where to Stay
Housed in a 250-year-old mansion, the 19 rooms and suites at Ranjit’s Svaasa (doubles from US$87) recall a bygone era when the property served as a guesthouse for foreign dignitaries.
Be Sure to Try
Amritsar’s dhabas (roadside eateries) are a must-do for the dedicated foodie; start with vegetarian-only Brother’s Dhaba for some of the city’s best kulcha flatbread.
Dedicated to the founder of the Sikh empire, the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum occupies the ruler’s summer palace in the Ram Bagh gardens.
This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Passage to Punjab”).