There was an extremely vital information about places to stay in Amritsar that I found nowhere until I myself reached Amritsar at 8 pm. The kind of information that doesn’t come up anywhere in the google search or Trip Advisor or any of the zillion travel websites and blogs. I found it by first-hand experience and now I am going to share it for the ‘make benefit human kind’.
It was about the option of very convenient and cheap accommodation at the several dharmshalas in Amritsar. I was aware that there very good dharmshalas are available but I didn’t know their location. Some friends told they are very close to the Golden Temple. So I took an E rickshaw from the Golden Temple Parking and asked him to take me to a dharmshala if he knew any. But these local autos, rickshaws they get commission from the hotel owners for bringing guests so they won’t take you to Dharmshalas. So he kept going round in circles and kept taking me to various hotels.
Determined to find a dharamshala I told him to take me near the temple, as I thought they must be around the temple. He took me through the crossings from where I could see the gate of the temple. He then said, “madam temple is there, only walking allowed from here no vehicle allowed.” From the point he showed me the gate, I looked around and couldn’t see any dharmshala. Having failed to find one, I finally checked into a hotel, Hotel Heritage Inn. There was one particular dharmshala adjacent to this hotel but they didn’t have any rooms, only halls with common bathroom.
After freshening up I went to the Golden Temple. I had to walk up to that same crossing from where I could see the temple gate, entered the temple gate and lo and behold a three floored massive building ‘Shri Guru Arjun Ji Niwas’ stands there. Next to it was Sri Guru Ramdas Niwas.
Big revelation, the Dharmshalas are inside the temple premises. This was new to me. So don’t search for Dharmshalas among the line of hotels and guest houses. Just go straight to the temple and you’d find something.
Dharamshalas have both rooms and halls, provided on first cum first serve basis. You have to stand in que at 12 pm for check in and whatever is available would be provided. Rs.500 for double bed room fitted with AC, geyser, English toilet, table, wardrobe. No TV. No other facility like Wifi or room service. If you cannot get a room, the next option is the hall for Rs.300 in which they provide you with a single bed and bedding.
At Amritsar don’t look for a luxury stay, with swimming pool or bar or dance floor. They are not situated close to the temple anyway. Go for the simplest accommodation close to the temple. My recommendation is target for the Dharmshala, because you don’t want to miss the Gurbanis that are constantly being played at the temple. If you can’t find a room at dharmshala, and are not comfortable staying in a dormitory, then perhaps head for the zillion hotels around the temple. But if you really have it in you, stay in the temple, at the feet of the Guru, as every corridor and bay in the temple turns into ashray sthal at nights.
The next morning, I tried for a room at the dharmshala but couldn’t find one, so moved to a different hotel, closer to the temple, Hotel Saffron. I got very cheap room rates at both the hotels, INR 1200 for 3 bedded room at Heritage Inn and Rs.800 for 3 bedded room in Hotel Saffron. But all rates at all hotels are flexible and you must bargain a lot. Most of these hotels are available online and their online rates through Yatra or Trivago etc are always higher than what you can negotiate face to face. Reason why I never do an advance hotel booking.
Hotel Saffron is on Yatra.com http://www.yatra.com/hotels/hotels-in-amritsar/hotel-saffron
Hotel Heritage Inn is on Trip Advisor https://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g303884-d634825-Reviews-Hotel_Heritage_Inn_Amritsar-Amritsar_Punjab.html
A list of Dharmshalas was available on Shiromani of Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee http://sgpc.net/sarai-info/