Amritsar Gay Travel
Personalized Amritsar gay travel advice including where to stay, top experiences, local gay life & travel tips.
The Gay Travel Experience: Amritsar, India
Indian people are as friendly as they come. Amritsar’s tranquility is perfect for the lone gay traveler or anyone seeking raw beauty. The city welcomes people of all kinds from around the world.
Amritsar is one of the cities that gives me the most nostalgia out of all the places I’ve visited around the world. I would absolutely love to go back.
Interacting with locals was quite easy since they are all so friendly and eager to talk to westerners. This made being a solo traveler super easy.
Residents are genuinely happy to welcome tourists to their city. The common question is “how did you learn about Amritsar?”
Amritsar Gay Travel: Hotels & Where to Stay
Hotels in Amritsar are extremely affordable, which is great if you’re a budget traveler.
Staying in a hotel near the Golden Temple will give you the best experience. Most of what you’ll want to explore in Amritsar will be directly in this area.
I stayed a Hotel City Park, which was modern and in a great location. It was perfect for a comfortable, authentic Amritsar experience.
They offered wonderful breakfasts each day in their large dining room, as well as a peaceful rooftop. Each morning I would stand on the rooftop, gazing at the low-rise structures for what seemed like forever.
Amritsar Experiences for the Gay Traveler
The Golden Temple is the obvious draw to Amritsar, the holiest city of Sikhism. This magnificent site grounds the city in peace.
The temple is a glitzy structure surrounded by fountain waters and marble walkways. Sikhs flock here to pay respects and I bet you will see some bathing in the water!
The wide-open perimeter walkways are perfect to visit both day and night. I particularly liked visiting after dusk while everything is lit up.
Visitors can also wait in line with the Sikhs to see the temple up close. As you enter the walled area surrounding the temple, grab a head covering (showing hair is not allowed) and rinse your feet in the water.
Toss your sandals aside and take it all in. The rhythm of the music played constantly is mesmerizing and seemed to relax me.
Walk the main strip through town at night, leading to and from the Golden Temple. The roads are called Golden Temple Way and Golden Temple Road.
The glow of all the buildings is lovely. The municipality has put significant effort into beautifying this area, so make sure to experience it.
Side streets in this area have small shops where you can purchase souvenirs. I liked browsing the shops especially because these places aren’t flooded with tourists.
Amritsar isn’t a global destination for westerners, so you can take in all the authentic Punjabi markets. Don’t forget to barter!
Although I felt safe the entire time, some areas outside the city center are quite poor and not very developed. Take a trek off the beaten path so you can observe the local life. It’s mesmerizing to see how these neighborhoods buzz all day.
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India-Pakistan Border Ceremony
Absolutely go to the India-Pakistan Border Ceremony in Attari. Ask your hotel to arrange a car to drive you there, or book a border ceremony ticket in advance. This unforgettable ceremony takes place once per day.
In the late afternoon, the Indian army and Pakistani army perform a routine on their respective sides of the border wall.
At the end of the performance, which is essentially a display of power, the armies slam their gates shut. This signifies the tense relations between these nations.
Both the Indian and Pakistani sides play very loud music to a cheering crowd in a nationalistic fashion, so it is quite a rowdy show!
The group on the Pakistan side will be clearly visible. As a westerner, this is the closest I will probably ever get to Pakistan. Lahore is just a short distance away and it was surreal, to say the least.
Upon arrival, your driver will park and you begin your journey on a long trail toward the border. Bring some extra rupees for water.
Indians and tourists alike wait in line, are checked at a security booth, and then proceed toward the stadium. Ranks of visitors will be assigned benches. Citizens of India are seated separately.
At the end of the ceremony, there will be an opportunity to get a photo with an Indian soldier!
Gay Amritsar: Nightlife
There is not really any gay nightlife in Amritsar, as you might have imagined. Frankly, there isn’t really any straight nightlife either! The locals actually prefer to enjoy some drinking at home.
You may read about how Sikhism prohibits the consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants, but the truth is that many Sikhs do in fact drink. Smoking, however, is rare amongst the Sikhs.
The only place you will truly be able to grab a beer will be in the comfort of your hotel. But who is traveling to Amritsar for nightlife, anyway?
Amritsar Travel Tips
The most important tip I can give you is don’t wear shorts! If you do, locals will look at you like you have three heads. This screams “uninformed tourist.” It is just customary here, so grab a pair of lightweight, breathable pants for your explorations.
If you use an American Express card, you may want to consider bringing a different card type. I had frequent difficulty paying for hotels with my old Amex card while in India, which isn’t uncommon in many countries these days. You certainly can’t go wrong with Visa or Mastercard.
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India Gay Rights
Being gay is still taboo in India and homophobia is still prevalent, although it is on the decline. India still has a long way to go regarding LGBT inclusiveness. The laws regarding homosexuality have oscillated over the years with a recent positive outcome.
India decriminalized homosexuality in 2009. Then in 2013, this ruling was reversed with the government deferring to legislators on the issue. However in September 2018, the Indian high court unanimously agreed to decriminalize same-sex relations, a huge step forward.
Tolerance of the LGBT community in India is slowly but surely changing. There is significant support for LGBT people in most large Indian cities. They are much less conservative here, as you might expect.
Enjoy your stay in this wonderful north Indian city. If you travel to Amritsar, I’d love to know about your Amritsar gay experience.