Amritsar is at the epicentre of the Sikh faith, for it is home to the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines. For Sikhs it is both a place where Punjab’s wealth is on full display, as well as an important pilgrimage. But it is not only Sikhs who come here. People from all faiths come to the Golden Temple, a tribute to the syncretist traditions of a faith whose holy book is a compilation of the writings of men of different faiths.
Outside the sacred precincts of the Golden Temple, you can enjoy this chaotic city while you gorge on Punjabi specialities like makki ki roti, sarson da saag and gur da halwa.
Tourist Attraction in Amritsar:
Golden TempleThe Golden Temple in Amritsar is the most exalted of all Sikh shrines, drawing pilgrims from near and far fore centuries. The temple’s story began some four centuries ago when the third Sikh Guru Amar Das asked Guru Ram Das (who succeeded him) to build a central place for the congregation of the Sikhs. Guru Arjan Dev completed the work started by Guru Ram Das in the 16th century. The gurdwara has four entrance doors, called deoris, in all four directions-symbolic of the new faith that made no distinction between caste and creed. People could enter and bow in any direction they preferred.
Jallianwala Bagh Is a peaceful park with picnicking families and college kids, but move to a section of the wall which still has visible bullet marks, and you will be reminded of one of the most horrific events in colonial Indian history. When the Rowlatt Act (1919), which gave the British the power to arrest and imprison Indians without a trial if suspected of sedition, was imposed on Indians it was severely criticised and regular hartals (strikes) were organised to protest the law.
General Dyer had been called to Amritsar to return the city to order. He arrived at the Bagh with 150-armed soldiers, ordered the crowd to disperse and two minutes later inhumanly commanded his troops to open fire. The square was surrounded by high walls and the soldiers had blocked the only entrance (and exit) to the compound. The firing (1650 rounds) continued for about 15 minutes. About 400 people (including children) died while 1500 were left wounded.
Mata Mandir templeA grand old pious lady developed this Hindu temple situated at Rani ka Bagh, on the lines of holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi at Katra (Jammu), the temple draws crowds of devotees from far and near. Festivals are celebrated with great pomp and show. An evening visit to the temple gives an opportunity to the visitors to observe the life styles of Hindu families.
Ram Bagh Maharaja Ranjit Singh built this small palace and park in 1819. It lies in the newer, northern part of Amritsar. It used to serve as a summer residence for the philanthropic, one-eyed Maharaja (who rebuilt the Golden Temple) between 1818 and 1837 and now houses the Ranjit Singh museum, which has paintings and weapons dating back to the Mughal period.
Ram Tirath templeOn the outskirts of Amritsar is this significant historic birthplace of Lav and Kush. It is the spot where sage Valmiki’s ashram stood and this is a sacred place for the Hindus where we get a glimpse of statues illustrating scenes from the Ramayana.
Wagah BorderThe final frontier, Wagah about 28 kms. from Amritsar is the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. Its an interesting experience especially at sunset when the ‘Retreat’ ceremony takes place with the BSF on the Indian Side of the Border. The changing of the guards and the ceremonial lowering of the flags ceremony is carried out with great pomp.
Festivals in Amritsar:
Baisakhi Baisakhi, the festival of spring, is celebrated here every year on 13th of April. It is all the more auspicious because it is on this day that Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa panth. Through out the city the atmosphere is of gaiety and colour. It is believed that wheat crop is also ready for harvesting and on this day, farmers start reaping the harvest for which they have waited patiently. So the occasion is of happiness. The Guru Granth Sahib is read in all the Gurdwaras and a procession is carried out in the city. People enjoy be dancing the Punjabi folk dance bhangra.
Guru Nanak JayantiThe festival falls in the month of October. The day commemorates the birthday of Guru Nanak Devji Maharaj. The Guru Granth Sahib is read and langars are organized in the Gurdwaras and at homes.
How to get There:
By planeRaja Sansi International Airport is about 11 km and a 20-25 min drive from the city center. It’s one of the most modern airports in India and quite adequate if not exactly exciting. Most flights are to Delhi, an hour away. Singapore Airlines also flies directly to Singapore, and there are a surprising numbers of flights to Central Asia.
By trainThe Shatabdi Express is the fastest and most comfortable way to arrive from Delhi. Slower and cheaper trains are also available. Trains also arrive from Jammu, Dharamsala and other northern areas via Pathankot, and many other locations daily.
By carLong-distance taxis are possible from most places.
By busAmritsar is well-connected by bus to most major cities and the northern areas within a days drive. Pathankot is about 3 hours away, and there is one daily direct bus to Dharamsala (6 hours).
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