Amritsar Tour | Amritsar Tourist Places | Golden Temple Tour

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Amritsar - Quick Facts

Area: 5,094 sq. Km.
Population: 1,500,000
Altitude: 234 m above sea level
Season: October to March
Clothing: Summer- Light cotton, Winter- Heavy woolens
Rainfall: 616 mm average
Languages: Punjabi, Hindi & English


Amritsar, literally a Pool of Nectar, derives its name from Amrit Sarovar, the holy tank that surrounds the fabulous Golden Temple. First time visitors to Amritsar could be forgiven for the impression that Amritsar is like any other small town in northern India. But Amritsar stands head and shoulders above any other city, its status elevated and sanctified by the presence of the venerable Golden Temple. Located in the heart of Amritsar, the temple complex is surrounded by a maze of narrow lanes, or katras, that house one of the busiest markets in India. But the Golden Temple is a serene presence, radiating a calm that makes people bow their heads in reverence. The gurudwara, as Sikh temples are called, is the holiest of Sikh shrines. It is not just Sikhs who travel to the Golden Temple to pay homage, the sacred shrine is equally revered by Hindus and people of other faiths who, too, make the pilgrimage to offer prayers at Harmandir Sahib.

There more to Amritsar than that - Amongst other sights is Jallianwala Bagh, site of the gruesome massacre of unarmed Indians by British troops. A 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.If you are 'doing' north India, Amritsar is a city you should not miss. It's easy to travel there from Delhi by road and by rail. It is easy to navigate through the city; few guides bother you as tourism is not the most important commercial activity here. Ask them in Amritsar, and they will tell you that if for nothing else you must travel here for the roadside chhola-bhaturas.

Origin
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 him, 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 startad. 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 fo 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 follower’s keen interest in horse trade.


By Air
The Rajastani airport, about 11 km. from town, is connected by domestic flights to Delhi, Srinagar and Chandigarh. You can get to town by a pre-booked rented car, taxis or auto-rickshaws.

By Rail
Amritsar is connected by direct trains to major Indian cities like Delhi, Jammu, Mumbai, Nagpur, Calcutta and Puri.

By Road
You can drive into Amritsar from neighboring states.
•        Chandigarh - 235 Km.
•        Delhi - 450 Km.
•        Lahore - 35 km.


Golden Temple (Harmander Sahib)
The Golden temple is located in the holy city of the Sikhs, Amritsar. The Golden temple is famous for its full golden dome; it is one of the most sacred pilgrim spots for Sikhs. The Mandir is built on a 67-ft square of marble and is a two storied structure. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had the upper half of the building built with approximately 400 kg of gold leaf. 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 here that Sage Valmiki wrote the epic, Ramayana. Rama and Sita are believed to have spent their fourteen-year exile in Amritsar, the epicenter of Sikhism. 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 around 20,000 people everyday. The number shoots up to 100,000 on special occasions. A visitor must cover his / her head before entering the temple premises. The Granth Sahib is kept in the Temple during the day and is kept in the Akal Takht or Eternal Throne in the night. The Akal Takht also houses the ancient weapons used by the Sikh warriors. Guru Hargobind established it. The rugged old Jubi Tree in the North West corner of the compound is believed to possess special powers. It was planted 450 years ago, by the Golden Temple's first high priest, Baba Buddha. Guru-ka-Langar or the communal canteen is towards the eastern entrance of the temple complex, and it provides free food to all visitors, regardless of colour, creed, caste or gender. Visitors to the Golden Temple must remove their shoes and cover their heads before entering the temple. The temple is less crowded in the early mornings on weekends.

Around the Golden Temple
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 | Bunga Baba Deep Singh.

Durgiana Temple (Lakshmi Narain Temple)
Built in the third decade of the 20th Century it echoes, not the traditional Hindu temple architecture, but that 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. One of the greatest reformers and political leaders of resurgent India, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, laid its foundation stone. It is a well-known repository of Hindu scriptures.

Wagah 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 makes for a most charming spectacle.

Wagah, 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.

Jallian Wala Bagh
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 appaling 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.

Ram Bagh

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.

Ram Tirath
Located 11 Km West of Amritsar on Chogawan road, dates back to the period of Ramayana, Rishi Valmiki's hermitage. The place has an ancient tank and many temples. A hut marks the site where Mata Sita gave birth to Luv & Kush and also, still extant are Rishi Valmiki's hut and the well with stairs where Mata Sita used to take her bath. The Bedis of Punjab (Guru Nanak Dev, the founder Prophet of Sikhism was a Bedi) trace their descent from Kush and Sodhis (the 10th Prophet of Sikhism, Guru Gibind Singh was a Sodhi) from Luv. A four day fair, since times immemorial is held here starting on the full moon night in November. 16 Kilometres west on Choganwan road is Ram Tirath, commemorating Maharishi Balmik Ji´s heritage.

Pul Kanjari
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 left on the Wagha border, Pul Kanjari is about 35 kms. Both from Amritsar & Lahore. The Maharaja would often rest and leisure here in the baradari while passing by along with his royal troop and retinues. Despite a ruined fort and a baoli-a bathing pool - this heritage sight has a temple, a Gurudwara and a mosque which bespeak of the secular concerns of the Maharaja. The inside of the dome on the corner of the baoli enshrines a number of scenes and sights from the Hindu scriptures and the Raj Darbar.These frescoes are laced with floral frames.

Samadhi of Guru Angad Dev Ji
About 30 km south east from Amritsar, and within easy reach from Goindwal Sahib is a Samadhi of the second Guru. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1815 A.D.

Jama Masjid Khairuddin

Built by Mohd Khairuddin in 1876, this masjid is a place of architectural beauty situated in the Hall Bazar. This is the holy place from where a call against the British rule was given by Tootie-e-Hind, Shah Attaullah Bukhari.

Samadh of Shravan
About 6 Kilometres from Ajnala near Jastarwal (earlier known as Dashrathwal) is located one of the oldest heritage spots in Amritsar. It belongs to the Ramayana period a legend has it that Shravan lies buried here after the fell from the arrow of King Dashrath, the Lord of Ayodhya. The Samadh is situated on the banks of an old rivulet (Purani Dhab ).Shravan had taken his blind parents on a wide-ranging pilgrimage by cradling them on his shoulder in a wooden device.

Khoo Kalyanwala
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 and Dr. Saif-ud-din Kitchlu are house-hold names in Amritsar.

When Mangal Pande blew the bugle of rebellion against the British in 1857, its echoes and shock-waves were felt in Amritsar also. A platoon of 400 soldier stationed at Lahore rebelled against the British Government by fleeing their barracks. The deserted soldiers bravely swam across the flooded Ravi and reached Ajnala.The information was received by Mr.Fredric Cooper, the then Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar.On his order, all of them were put in a coop-like room where almost 200 soldiers died of asphyxia. The rest of them were brutally shot dead the next morning and their dead bodies thrown in the well which is known as the Kalianwala Khoo in Tehsil Ajnala.

The Historical Banyan Tree (Shaheedi Bohr)
This historical tree with massive girth and lushgreen canopy stands majestically in the Namdhari Shaheedi Samark against the majestic back drop of the northern boundary of Ram Bagh.Four Kookas were hanged from this tree by the British Government in 1871.The Kookas were hanged from this tree by the British Government in 1871 The Kookas were hanged because they had reacted violently against the hawking of beef around the Golden Temple.


Naina Devi (20 km)
This temple is situated amidst Pictureque hill ranges. This is a famous temple visited by lakhs of Pilgrims/devotees.

Bhakra Dam (35 kms)
It is the world highest straight gravity concrete Dam and a National Pride. It controls the turbulent waters of Satlej River for irrigation and power generation. It attracts a lorge numbers of domestic and foreign tourists every day.

Son Et Lumiere
Daily light & sound show is held at Quila Anand Garh from 8.00 PM depicting scenes from the lives and times of the Sikh Gurus & also highlighting the history of the place .While the show is ordinarily in Punjabi, the English version is also available on request.


Amritsar is best known for its woollen blankets and sweaters. Carpets and dry fruit are also worth checking out.Katra Jaimal singh near the telephone exchange in the old city is good for shopping. Punjab is also known for handicrafts and handlooms, phulkari (traditional embroidery) lacquer woodwork furniture, footwear and jewellery.The city is also famous for its culinary delicacies like pickles and papads and milk products.

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