Amritsar (Punjabi translation: AMimRqsr: The Pool Of The Nectar Of Immortality) is a city in the northwestern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. Amritsar is 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Lahore, Pakistan and therefore, very close to India's western border with Pakistan. Another origin of Amritsar's name is from Amrit-Sagar, "The Ocean of the Nectar of Immortality". This is a very important ocean to the Sikh religion, as the name implies.Amritsar is home to Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. Within the sacred precincts of the Golden Temple, a devotee can seek blessing at The Akal Takht , Har Ki Pauri , Dukh Bhanjani Ber (Jujube Tree) , Thara Sahib , Ber Baba Budha Ji , Gurudwara Ilachi Ber ,Ath Sath Tirath and Bunga Baba Deep Singh.
|Golden Temple|| Durgiana Temple|| Wagha Border
Amritsar is located at 31°38'N 74°52'E / 31.63°N 74.87°E with an average elevation of 234 metres (768 ft). It has a continental climate, typical of Northwestern India and experiences four seasons primarily: winter season (November to March) with temperature ranges from 4 °C (39 °F) to about 16 °C (61 °F), summer season (April to June) where temperatures can reach 45 °C (113 °F), monsoon season (July to September) and post-monsoon season (September to November). Annual rainfall is about 790 millimetres (31.1 in). Amritsar city situated in northern Punjab state of northwestern India lies about 15 miles (25 km) east of the border with Pakistan. Amritsar is the centre of Sikhism and the site of the Sikh’s principal place of worship. It is a major commercial, cultural, and transportation centre.
The Origin of the city of Amritsar lies hidden in the mists of time due to the scanty evidence available in its early history .On the development of the city, the generally accepted view is based on the Amritsar District Gazetteers, the authoritative works of reference on local history.
The various Opinions that the land was granted by emperor Akbar to Guru Amar Das (later on transferred to Guru Ram Das), or was acquired by Guru Ram Das before the grant was actually obtained, or the land was purchased by the Guru on a payment of Rs.700 from the zamindaar of the village at tung at the instance of Emperor Akbar, or presented by the people of village Sultanwind out of regard and reverence for the Guru are all versions based on popular tradition .There are no documentary evidences to support or contradict these views. But the version regarding the purchase of the land by Guru Ram Das is in keeping with the tradition of Sikh Gurus who never took any land grants from the rulers.
It seems that originally the site of Amritsar was a community land lying between the village of Sultanwind, Tung, Gumtala and Gilwali, and later it was acquired by the Sikh Gurus either on payment or was received by them free of cost. Opinions may vary on the question of acquisition of the site, but it is certain that the selection of the site was planned and not accidental. It was the choice of the Gurus themselves, and the site of Amritsar was revenue free land. Even the early name of the city chak Guru, bears testimony to the nature of the settlement as detached or revenue free. Probably, Chak Guru was granted exemption from land revenue by the Mughal government during the reign of Emperor Akbar, whose policy of religious toleration and religious grants even to non-Muslims centres is a well known fact.
The original plan of the new project was chalked out by Guru Amardas and conveyed to Ram Das for execution. Guru Ram Das was given guidelines for the location of the site and was instructed to found a village, to build a House for himself, to dig a tank and to develop the centre gradually into a city. Arrangements were made for money and assistance .some intelligent, experienced and elderly Sikhs were instructed to assist Ram Das to implement the project .The project was thus executed by Guru Ram Das.
First of all a boundary line of the settlement was drawn. The foundation was laid by Guru Ram Das and the village was named Ram Das Pura .Opinions varies on the date of the founding of the city. Probably the foundation was laid in 1573 AD but the popular view is that it was done in 1577.
The construction of the new centre was started with great enthusiasm. Some huts and houses were built and then excavation of the tank was started. When a portion of the project was completed, Bhai Jetha went to Goindwal to report the progress of the work. This time Guru Amar Das directed Ram Das to dig another tank at the low level area near the site of the tank under construction. On his return, Guru Ram Das selected the site for the second tank surrounded by a large number of Jujube trees.
The construction of the second tank commenced on Nov.6, 1573 and Guru Ram Das personally supervised it. Many Sikh devotees came to participate in the Sewa. Simultaneously with the construction of the tank all care was taken to develop the village Chak.52 types of caste groups from Patti, Kasur and Kalanaur were called for ensuring regular supply of essential commodities to the settlers. A market called Guru ka bazar which exists now also was established. Some wells were dug for water supply .A number of rich bankers and traders also settled down in the town.
The construction of the tank and the town was going on smoothly .But Guru Ram Das had to rush back to Goindwal at the call of the dying Guru Amar Das, while the work was in progress. The work was resumed on his return in 1577 and the construction of the tank and town was completed in the same year.
On the completion of the project, the Guru called the local business community and told them to take charge of the holy place but they humbly pleaded their inability to perform religious duties and requested the Guru to engage some Brahmins and mendicants for the job.
The Guru and his disciples were thrilled at the completion of the new pilgrimage centre. Guru Ram Das composed beautiful verses in glorification of the sarowar, making an injunction upon his followers to take bath in the holy tank and meditate the name of God. The tank acquired a reputation of sanctity and became the head-quarters of the Sikhs. The Amrit Sarowar remained un-bricked till Guru Arjan Dev ascended the Gur Gaddi in 1581.The tank was made pacca and its side stairs were bricked. The tank was named Amar sarowar or Amritsar. Gradually the fame of the sacred tank led to its identity with the latter appellation and the city got its final name of Amritsar. Guru Arjan Dev also settled in the new city artisans and craftsmen of diverse calling and inculcated in his followers’ keen interest in horse trade.
Amritsar district is divided into four Tehsils, namely, Amritsar-I; Amritsar-III; Ajnala and Baba Bakala, Five Sub-Tehsils (Attari, Lopoke, Majitha, Ramdas and Tarsika), Eight Blocks (Ajnala, Chogwan, Harsha China, Jandiala, Majitha, Rayya, Tarsika, Verka), Eleven (Ajnala, Rajasansi, Majitha, Jandiala(SC), Amritsar-North, Amritsar West(SC), Amritsar Central, Amritsar east, Amritsar South, Attari(SC) and Baba Bakala) Assembly Constituencies and One(Amritsar)) Lok Sabha constituency.
The climate of the district is characterized by general dryness except in the brief south –west monsoon season, a hot summer and bracing winter. The year may be divided in four seasons. The cold season is from November to March. The period from April to June is the hot season. The south-west monsoon season is from about the beginning of July to the first week of September. The succeeding period lasting till the beginning of November is the post-monsoon or transition period. Western disturbances affect the weather over the district during the cold season, causing widespread rain and gusty winds. Dust-storms and thunderstorms occur in the summer season. Occasional fog occurs in the cold season
Amritsar-a traditional vibrant city –is known for warmth & hospitality. Amritsaris are born hosts, and are famous for having a palate for eating. This is perhaps because the Amritsari mind- set was shaped by frequent ravages of war where the dawn of the next day was not sure. The city is famous for its culinary delicacies like multi-layered prathas, bhatura channa, tandoori kulchas, puris, jam, marmalades, sharbat, rabri & lassi. Other delicacies include satpuras, samosas, fried fish, seekh kabab, mutton tikka, barbecued chicken and spicy pickles. The celebrated papad and vadian from Amritsar have become the subject of many a rhymes and jingles, Amritsaris have a sweet tooth for pinnis, balushahis and gur ka halwa. The city has many places for traditional cuisines and modern foods. Most of the eating joints of the traditional cuisines and modern foods are within the walled city.
Amritsar Literature & Music
Guru Arjun Dev, the 5th Sikh Guru, made this city a centre of spiritual literature .Amritsar has been a home to early Punjabi poetry and exegetical literature on Sikhism. Mention must be made of Mahakavi Santokh Singh, and a Bhai Veer Singh who left behind a vast body of original literature in all genres.
Around 1940, Amritsar had developed a unique confluence of different traditions which got reflected in the works of Dhani Ram ‘Chatrik’, Kirpa Ram ‘Nazim’, Giani Harinder Singh Roop, Maula Bakhsh Kushta, Feroze Din Sharaf, Saadat Hasan Mantoo, Faiz, Girami,Nanak Singh, Gurbax Singh ‘Preetlari’etc.
Amritsar is a centre of raag-based rendering of Shabad (Scriptures of Sri Guru Granth Sahib).The musical instruments are available around Town Hall and Jallianwala Bagh.The city boasts of maximum production of harmoniums.
The prominent Sikh Gurudwaras and sacred places in the city and its vicinity are Sri Harmandir Sahib,(Golden Temple) ; Dhan Dhan Khalsa ; Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Devan Asthan ; Gurdwara Baba Atal Sahib ; Gurdwara Atari Sahib ; Gurdwara Patshahi Shevi Dand ; Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj Sahib Ji (Dhan Dhan Baba Deep Singh Ji) ;Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib; Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh, built at the site of the martyrdom of Baba Deep Singh ; Gurdwara Bebaaksar Sahib ; Gurdwara Janam Asthan Shri Guru Hargobind Sahib; Gurdwara Janam Asthan Shri Guru Amar Das Sahib; Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran (twenty five km south of Amritsar) ; Gurdwara Baba Budha Sahib Janam Asthan ; Gurdwara Guru da Bagh, Kokawali ; Gurdwara Bowli Sahib, Goindwal Sahib ; Gurdwara Bir Baba Budha, Thattah-Chabhal ; Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Khadur Sahib ; Gurdwara Chheharta Sahib, Guru Hargobind Ji ; Gurdwara Baba Bakala, where Bhai Makhan Shah proclaimed that he had found the ninth Sikh Guru in Guru Teg Bahadur ; Gurdwara Beed Baba Buddha Sahib and Gurdwara Kaulsar Sahib ; Gurdwara Tala Sahib ; Gurdwara Bhai Manjh Sahib Ji ; Gurdwara Pau Wind Sahib Ji (Dhan Dhan Baba Deep Singh Ji) ; Gurdwara Guru Ki Wadali ; Gurdwara Chola Sahib ; Gurdwara Gurdwara Guru Ki Kothri ; Gurdwara Gurusar Satlani Sahib ; Gurdwara Pipli Sahib ; Gurdwara Dera Sahib ; Gurdwara San Sahib ; ; Gurdwara Baba Adali Sahib ; Gurdwara Jassa Singh Ahluvalia ; Gurdwara Santokhsar Sahib ; Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj Baba Gurbaksh Singh and Gurdwara Sardar Natha Singh Shaheed
The important Hindu Temples in the city and its vicinityare Durgiana Temple alias Sitla Mandir ; Kali Mata Mandir ; Mata Lal Devi Mandir ; Bijli Pehalwan Mandir- lawrence road ; Purshotam Das Mandir ; Gopal Mandir- majitha road ; Ramtirth- back side guru nanak dev university and longaa wali devi madir- katra jaimal singh.
There more to Amritsar than that - amongst other sights is Jallianwala Bagh, site of the gruesome massacre of unarmed Indians by British troops. The memorial at this site commemorates the 2000 Indians who were killed or wounded, shot indiscriminately by the British under the command of Gen Michael O" Dyer on April13, 1919 while participating in a peaceful public meeting. This was one of the major incidents of India's freedom struggle. The story of this appalling massacre is told in the Martyr's Gallery at the site. A section of wall with bullet marks still visible is preserved along with the memorial well, in which some people jumped to escape. "The impossible men of India shall rise and liberate their mother land", declared Mahatma Gandhi, after the Jallian Wala massacre. "This disproportionate severity of punishment inflicted upon the unfortunate people and method of carrying it out is without parallel in the history of civilized govt." wrote Rabindra Nath Tagore the noble laureate while returning knighthood.
Another major tourist attraction these days is the Indo-Pakistan border crossing at Wagah, just a short distance from Amritsar, with its elaborate change-of-guards drill with a lot of strutting and intimidatory showing off by both sides. 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. Wagah is an army outpost on Indo-Pak border - between Amritsar and Lahore, is an elaborate complex of buildings, roads and barriers on both sides. The daily highlight is the evening "Beating the Retreat" ceremony. Soldiers from both countries march in perfect drill, going through the steps of bringing down their respective national flags. As the sun goes down, nationalistic fervour rises and lights are switched on marking the end of the day amidst thunderous applause.
Ram Bagh a beautiful garden, an accustomed listener to the Neighs of thousand horses, announcing the arrival of the statesman of the century Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) the Lion of Punjab, has in its heart the summer Palace of this great ruler. Maintenance free inbuilt cooling system designed in the Palace exhibits the architectural excellence and invokes a keen interest. The king of his time brought local chieftains under his control and virtually finished any eventuality of possible attacks on the kingdom raised by him. To commemorate the memory of his velour Ram Bagh on its one end has a lively statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh saddled on a horse in a winsome posture.
The garden was named by the ruler himself as a tribute to Guru Ram Das, the founder of the city. Now the summer palace of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been converted into a museum which speaks volumes on his times. On display are weapons dating back to Mughal times, portraits of ruling houses of Punjab and a replica of diamond "Kohinoor". In those days the garden was approached by a huge fortified gate which still exists in its original form and is just on the periphery of the garden.