Amritsar, the religious hub of Punjab was founded by the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das in 1574. At that time, it was known as Guru Ki Nagri. The city has one of the most prominent Shrine of Sikhs “The Harimandir Sahib” popularly known as Golden Temple.
Amritsar’s central walled city has narrow zig zag streets mostly developed in the 17th and 18th century. The city is a peculiar example of an introverted planning system with unique areas called Katras. The Katras are self styled residential units that provided unique defense system during attacks on the city. The city was attacked numerous times during the 18th century mainly by Afghan invaders as it was considered the spiritual centre of Sikhs. Festivals like Diwali and Baisakhi are widely celebrated in Amritsar and there’s a saying about celebration of Diwali in Amritsar “Dal Roti Ghar Di Diwali Amritsar Di”.
Also read: What to eat while in Amritsar
The places not to be missed when one visits Amritsar include:
Golden Temple(Harmander Sahib)
The Golden temple is located in the holy city of the Sikhs, Amritsar. 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 ‘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.
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 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.
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.