Amritsar literally means ‘The pool of the holy Nectar’. It is one of the major cities of the Punjab
State in India
. Famous for its ‘Harmandir Sahib’ or more fondly called the ‘Golden Temple’ it draws an enormous crowd of tourists from all over the world. Amritsar is a very ancient place and a beautiful land founded by Guru Ramdas in 1574. It is the religious and a cultural centre of the Sikh
community of India
and many sacred shrines of Sikh
Gurus are found here.
Historically, Amritsar is equally remembered for its 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
which took place during the British regime and for its 1984, Operation Blue Star carried out under the command of the late Prime Minister of India
, Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
also called the Amritsar Massacre took place on April 13, 1919. On this day many men, women and children had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate the Baisakhi (harvest) festival. Jallianwala bagh is a park in Amritsar which is bounded on all sides by huge walls and buildings with a few narrow entrances, which are permanently locked. On this unfortunate day British Indian Army soldiers under Lt. Gen. Dyer had opened fire on this unarmed crowd. To escape this horrendous firing, people had fled in all directions, some had tried to climb the walls of the park and many of them had desperately jumped into a well inside the compound. This firing lasted for about 10 minutes and around 1000 people were killed and over 2000 wounded. This massacre angered the Indians. India
responded to this tragic event by nationwide strikes and the non co-operation movement. These movements led by Mahatma Gandhi
had a tremendous effect on India
’s struggle for Independence. Today, however, Jallianwala Bagh has been designed into a lovely garden. It houses a memorial which describes the ill-fated day of history. The bullet holes on the walls and adjoining buildings are visible even today. The well into which many people jumped and drowned attempting to save themselves from the hail of bullets is also protected as a monument inside the park.
Ram Bagh is a lovely garden developed in the memory of Guru Ram Das, the founder of Amritsar. In the heart of this garden is the magnificent palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab
. The palace exhibits architectural excellence and invokes a keen interest. The summer palace is now converted into a museum. The displays reflect history. The museum also exhibits various weapons dating from the Mughal
regime, portraits of the rulers and the replica of the diamond ‘Kohinoor’. The Maharaja’s statue astride his famous horse ‘Chetak’ is an impressive sight.
Other Tourist Attractions
Mosque at Fatehabad : A lovely mosque whose walls are adorned with pretty flower designs.
Khalsa College and Guru Nanak Dev University : The Khalsa College which was established in 1892 reflects Sikh architecture and design. The college has given India many excellent graduates – sportspersons, servicemen, administrators and professionals. The Guru Nanak Dev University is established in the vicinity of the college.
Tarn Taran : Located 24 kms to the south of Amritsar, Tarn Taran town was founded by Sri Guru Arjan Dev in 1590. The place is famous for its Gurdwara and fairs that are held every night of the New moon day, during the anniversaries of the Gurus and during the festivals like Baisakhi and Diwali.
Goindwal : This town was established by Guru Amar Das, to preach Sikhism. The place houses a ‘Baoli’, a well with 84 steps. Devotees who visit this well recite the Japji Saheb (the words from the Holy book, Guru Grantha Saheb) at each step, after bathing in the Baoli. They believe that all sins are washed away with this practice and a person gets’ Moksh’ (liberation) from 84,000 cycles of life in this world.
Khadur Sahib : It is closer to Goindwal and is another center of Sikhism.
Ram Tirath : 16 Kms west on Choganwan road is Ram Tirath. It houses Maharishi Balmik Ji´s heritage. The place is famous for its fair which is held on the full moon night of November and lasts four days.
Harike Wetland : The river Beas and river Sutlej have their confluence here at Harike ford. This place is declared a national wild life sanctuary and is home to many migrating birds from China, Siberia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Baba Bakala : This place too houses a magnificent Gurdwara where people gather in thousands on every New moon night and an annual fair is held on Raksha Bandhan day.
Dera Baba Jaimal Singh : About 54 kilometres east is Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, the Radhaswami self-sufficient colony near Beas. It is presided over by a living Master.
Durgiana Temple : It is situated outside the Lohgarh Gate and attracts sages and scholars of Hindu scriptures from all over India.
Wagha Border : 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 are spectacular ceremonies.
Amritsar is the World´s leading centre of Punjabi publications. Amritsar houses many shops and food stalls, hotels and restaurants.
Amritsar is famous for its number of cotton, woollen and art silk textile factories. Industries dealing with electric goods, sewing machines, auto parts and carpets are also found in Amritsar. A milk processing plant at Verka is the second biggest project of its kind in the country. Amritsar is India´s leading exporter of goods to the Middle-East and a leading distribution centre of dry fruits, tea and condiments.