Travel Mail Special Feature
Historically known as Rāmdāspur and colloquially as Ambarsar, Amritsar is a city in north-western part in India in the state of Punjab. It is situated 217 km northwest of state capital Chandigarh. It is near Pakistan, with the Wagah Border being only 28 km away.
Amritsar is a city with a fabulous blend of tradition and culture possessing several heritage and religious attractions within. The city known as the Jewel of Punjab, represents a magnificent past and a promising future with significant religious centers and historical sites.
Demographically as well as geographically, Amritsar is one of the largest cities of the Punjab state in India. The city’s origin lies in the village of Tung, and was named after the lake founded by the fourth Sikh Guru Ram Das in 1574 on land bought by him for 700 rupees from the owners of the village of Tung. Earlier, Guru Ram Das had begun building Santokhsar Sarovar, near the village of Sultanwind in 1564. In 1574, Guru Ram Das built his residence and moved to this place. It’s known as Chakk Ram Das.
Amritsar’s central walled city mostly developed in the 17th and 18th century, is a peculiar example of an introverted planning system with unique areas called Katras, the self-styled residential units providing unique defense system during attacks on the city.
Amritsar is home to the Harmandir Sahib, known as the Golden Temple, the spiritual and cultural center for the Sikh religion. This important Sikh shrine attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal with more than approx 100,000 visitors on week days alone and is the most popular destination for non-resident Indians (NRI) in the whole of India.
The main commercial activities here include tourism, carpets and fabrics, farm produce, handicrafts, service trades, and light engineering. The city is known for its rich cuisine and culture and for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 under British Rule. Amritsar is home to Central Khalsa Orphanage, which was once a home to Udham Singh, a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement.
Among many historical places to visit in the city the most significant ones are Golden Temple, Akal Takht, Tarn Taran Saheb, Jallianwala Bagh, Ram Bagh, Durgiana Temple, Ram Tirath, Wagah Border, Faridkot Fort, Mata Temple, Govind Garh Fort, Pul Kanjari, Khoo Kalyanwala, Samadhi of Guru Angad Dev Ji, Historical Banyan Tree, Har Ki Pauri, Dukh Bhanjani Ber (Jujube Tree), Thara Sahib, Ber Baba Budha Ji, Gurudwara Ilachi Ber, Ath Sath Tirath, Bunga Baba Deep Singh, Samadhi of Guru Angad Dev Ji, Samadh of Shravan, etc.
As one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots for Sikhs, the temple derives its name from its fully golden dome. Built on a 67-ft square of marble the temple is a two storied structure. With approx 400 kg of gold leaf the upper half of the building was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Golden Temple is surrounded by a number of other famous temples like the Durgiana Temple. The fourth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Ram Das, who had initially constructed a pool here, founded Amritsar, which houses the Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib. It is the epicenter of Sikhism.
It is here that Sage Valmiki wrote the epic, Ramayana. Rama and Sita are believed to have spent their fourteen-year exile in Amritsar. To the south of the temple is a garden, and the tower of Baba Atal. The Central Sikh Museum is atop the Clock Tower.
The ‘Guru Ka Langar’ offers free food to all visitors regardless of colour, creed, caste or gender. Approximately twenty thousand people have Langar here every day with number shooting up to one lakh also on special occasions. A visitor to the temple must cover his or her head all the time while in the temple premises. Guru-ka-Langar or the religious canteen is towards the eastern entrance of the temple complex. The temple is less crowded in the early mornings on weekends.
Just near the Golden Temple of Amritsar and opposite to the marbled Darshni Deorhi, the Akal Takht stands pretty. Considered the highest seat of the Sikh authority, the Akal Takht was built by sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargovind in the year 1609. Regarded as the Lord’s home, it is called – Akal Bunga. The Granth Sahib is kept in the Temple during day time and at night in the Akal Takht or Eternal Throne. The Akal Takht also contains the ancient weapons used by the Sikh warriors.
Tarn Taran Saheb
Located in the state of Punjab, Tarn Taran Saheb is a city that was founded by Shri Guru Anjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru. He had also laid the foundation of Tarn Taran Sahib Temple. Tarn Taran was later declared as a district and it has the largest percentage of Sikh population in Punjab. It has many gurudwaras, most popular being the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib. With its gold-plated structure and a sarovar (pond), this three-storied edifice is undoubtedly the main attraction of the city. Tarn Taran is well connected to other cities by roads and rail lines.
This belongs to one of the major incidents of India’s freedom struggle. On April13, 1919, the British army under the command of General Dyer fired randomly on a peaceful gathering of people in demanding freedom, which resulted in hundreds of men, women and children killed on the spot. The bullet marks on the boundary walls bring alive the agonizing tale of cruelty of the British rule. The memorial well is also present here in which some people jumped to escape the firing. The story of the massacre is told in the Martyr’s Gallery at the site.
The beautiful garden was named by the ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh himself as a tribute to Guru Ram Das, the founder of the city. Famed as the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, it has now been converted into a museum which exhibits weapons from Mughal times to portraits of ruling houses of Punjab and the replica of “Kohinoor” diamond.
Dedicated to Goddess Durga, this Hindu temple has the architecture of the Golden Temple and in a similar manner rises from the midst of a tank and has canopies and the central dome in the style of the Sikh temple. Detailed carved paintings of the Goddess in her different incarnations are displayed in this shrine dating back to 16th century. Various other deities are also found in the interiors of the temple with a remarkable splendor and elegance of its own.
A hut marks the site where Mata Sita gave birth to Luv & Kush and also, still extant are Rishi Valmiki’s hut. Located 11 Km West of Amritsar on Chogawan road, dates back to the period of Ramayana. The place has an ancient tank and many temples. A four day fair takes place here, starting on the full moon night in November. Guru Nanak dev being a Bedi, is known to be predecessor of Kush where as Guru Govind Singh is of Luv being a Sodhi.
Located at a distance of 28 km from Amritsar, it’s the international border between India and Pakistan. The pomp and pageantry of the Beating Retreat and the Change of Guard within handshaking distance of the Indian and Pakistani forces makes for a most charming spectacle. The soldiers from both countries demonstrate great enthusiasm and spirit as nationalistic fervor rises amidst roaring applause.
Established near the famous city of Ferozepur, Faridkot Fort is one of the famous tourist locations of Punjab. Faridkot Fort attracts the attention of both local and global travelers. Dating back to the fourteenth century this fort of Amritsar claims a distinct mention in the heritage of Punjab.
This labyrinthine type of Hindu cave temple is dedicated to the female saint, Lal Devi. Women who wish to become pregnant visit this temple to pray. The twisty route to the shrine passes through low tunnels, ankle-deep waterways, walkways, staircases and caves.
Govind Garh Fort
One of the Amritsar Tourist Attractions, the Govind Garh Fort is a very important site with immense historical significance. Locally known as the ‘Bhangian Da Quila’, the fort was constructed in the year 1760.Historical evidences prove that the fort belonged to Gujjar Singh Bhangi during the early nineteenth century.
It is another heritage sight built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh around which are sewn many tales and legends. Situated near the villages of Daoka and Dhanoa Kalan right on the Wagha border, Pul Kanjari is about 35 kms. both from Amritsar & Lahore. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It is said that once when a young dancer was going to Maharaja’s Baradari for a dance performance, her shoe slipped into the water channel. A bridge (pul) was especially constructed to take her shoe out as the dancer had then refused to perform till she gets back her shoe and hence this place got its name. The village is also popular for shopping.
The city has played a stellar role in the liberation of India from the British clutches. Freedom fighters like Madan Lal Dhingra, Ras Bihari Bose, S.Kartar Singh Sarabha, Dr. Satya Pal are the famous names from here. During the Revolt of 1857, a platoon of 400 soldiers at Lahore protested against the British and swam across Ravi to reach Ajnala. But as per the orders of the then Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, Fedric Cooper, they were all locked up in a tiny room where around 200 soldiers died because of suffocation and the rest were shot dead and thrown into the Kalyanwala Khoo (well).
Samadhi of Guru Angad Dev Ji
Built in 1815 AD, the Samadhi of Guru Angad Dev Ji was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It is situated at a distance of about 30 km from Amritsar. Guru Angad was the second Guru of Sikhs and a devout follower of Guru Nanak.
Historical Banyan Tree (Shaheedi Bohr):
This historical tree with massive girth and lush green canopy stands majestically in the Namdhari Shaheedi Samark against the magnificent back drop of the northern boundary of Ram Bagh. Located just outside the Ram Bagh Garden, it is just a few kilometers away from Amritsar. This great historical Banyan tree serves as a reminder of the cruel British rule in India during which many fought bravely and gave up their lives for freedom of the Nation. Four Namdharis were hung here to death in 1871 after they had objected against the hawking of beef near the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
Tourist Destinations Near Amritsar include Dalhousie (190 km), Dharamshala (196 km), Chandigarh (229 km), Ludhiana (142 km), Bhatinda (188 km), etc.
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Travel Mail Special Feature