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Sleeping With Pilgrims Inside the Golden Temple, Amritsar

Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas:
the Golden Temple Free Pilgrim’s Inn

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The main dorm room of the Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas pilgrim's lodge in Amritsar
The main dorm room of the Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas pilgrim’s lodge in Amritsar

Imagine a dorm room filled with wall-to-wall beds.

Above them, lines hang with drying clothes and towels, which double as the only form of privacy.

A narrow walkway provides the only thoroughfare across the room, though it is currently filled with sleeping travelers.

Oh well, I guess this is where Carrie, Lauren, Tara and I are spending the night.

What’s that? A private room in the back just opened up?

OK, I guess we’ll sleep there.

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But First We Gotta Get There

The front of Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas - the Pilgram's inn next to the Golden Temple
The front of Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas – the Pilgram’s inn next to the Golden Temple

If you could choose between checking smelly shoes or leading four Westerners all around the Golden Temple grounds in search of free lodging, which would you choose?

The answer was simple for the friendly elderly Sikh man who helped us find our way to the Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas pilgrim’s lodge. For nearly 30 minutes, he paraded us from office to reception desk to inquiry booth, looking for the best place for us to sleep.

Finally, we arrived back at the very first place he took us: that communal dorm room filled with Western travelers. I guess a spot opened up while we were gone?

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Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas Pilgrim’s Lodge
@ the Golden Temple

Located just outside a main entrance to the Golden Temple, Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas provides free and affordable lodging for pilgrims and travelers from all over the world. The building itself is massive, with multiple floors of dorms wrapping around a large open center courtyard.

The main courtyard at Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas
The main courtyard at Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas

By day, the courtyard serves as the main thoroughfare between the various parts of the building, including the massive restroom facilities that offer free toilets, sinks and showers. By night, the ground becomes a patchwork of pilgrim’s bags, blankets, clothes and bodies as hundreds of people sleep together under the stars.

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So Where Did We Sleep?

Off to the side of the courtyard and behind a creaky door.

In the back of the foreigner’s dorm (the one with wall-to-wall beds), a “private” little room provided us with just enough comfort to spend the night.

Carrie, Lauren and I sit in our little room in the back of the Golden Temple free pilgrim's lodge
Carrie, Lauren and I sit in our little room in the back of the Golden Temple free pilgrim’s lodge

Our accommodations were limited to three cot-sized beds (one of which Carrie and I shared), paper-thin mattresses, no sheets, a fan and a light bulb. Good thing we were getting up early to catch the sunrise.

Our group awoke at 5am to a bustling Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas. I guess we weren’t the only ones with the plan of seeing the Golden Temple bathed in the day’s first light.

A fisheye view of the Golden Temple complex at sunrise
A fisheye view of the Golden Temple complex at sunrise

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…click for photography and stories from that sunrise,
as well as the rest of my visit to the Golden Temple
(including fireworks!)…

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One sunrise and free kitchen breakfast later, we checked out of Shri Guru Ramdas Niwas, gave a donation for our stay and headed to the Amritsar bus station to head to our current location: McLeod Ganj, Dharamasala.

 

Share the Journey

  • http://www.secretdiaryofacampcounselor.com/ Lucyjharper

    It looks incredible and like a real experience – much better than staying in standard accommodation like everyone else.

  • http://twitter.com/thatbackpacker Audrey Bergner

    I once stayed in a hostel that had bedsheets hanging between bunkbed and bunkbed acting as walls. I know that doesn’t even compare, haha, but it was kind of fun. It felt like camping!

    I would definitely stay in this place. The communal room looks like it would be quite the experience.

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      That’s a great story too! Where was the hostel? Got any pix you can share? And yes, it was QUITE the experience. A must-do in Amritsar. Thanks for your comment :)

  • Mitesh Dave

    The information provided is very useful in understanding the accommodation avability

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      And that, folks, is another quality spam comment!

  • http://chuckmanley.com/ Chuck Manley

    Found your blog by googling “Sri Guru Ram Das Niwas.” I’m in Srinagar right now and thinking of heading to Amritsar next. It looks like I found where I’ll be sleeping. Thanks for the writeup.

  • http://theholidayindia.com/ Holiday India

    Very nice post

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Thanks so much!