Amritsar(Golden Temple)

Amritsar

BRIEF

Amritsar historically also known as Rāmdāspur and colloquially as Ambarsar, is the second most populous city in the Indian state of Punjab. The city is the administrative headquarters of the Amritsar district and is located in the Majha region of Punjab.

According to the 2011 census, the population of Amritsar was 1,132,761. It is one of the ten Municipal Corporations in the state and Karamjit Singh Rintu is the current mayor of the city. The city is situated 217 km northwest of state capital Chandigarh, 455 km northwest of New Delhi, the national capital, and 47 km northeast of Lahore, Pakistan, with the Wagah Border being only 28 km away.

Amritsar has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY - Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India. Amritsar is home to Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as "the Golden Temple," one of Sikhism's most spiritually significant and most-visited gurudwaras. The city is also known for its wooden chessboards and chess pieces manufacturing industry.[

HISTORY

The Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal situated at Amritsar is believed to be the Ashram site of Maharishi Valmiki, the writer of Ramayana. As per the Ramayana, Sita gave birth to Lava and Kusha, sons of lord Rama at Ramtirth ashram. Large number of people visit Ramtirth Temple at annual fair. Nearby cities to Amritsar, Lahore and Kasur were said to be founded by Lava and Kusha, respectively. During Ashvamedha Yagna by Lord Rama, Lava and Kush caught the ritual horse and tied Lord Hanuman to a tree near to today's Durgiana Temple.

Founding of Amritsar City

Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh guru is credited with founding the holy city of Amritsar in the Sikh tradition. Two versions of stories exist regarding the land where Ram Das settled. In one based on a Gazetteer record, the land was purchased with Sikh donations, for 700 rupees from the owners of the village of Tung.

According to the historical Sikh records, the site was chosen by Guru Amar Das and called Guru Da Chakk, after he had asked Ram Das to find land to start a new town with a man-made pool as its central point. After his coronation in 1574, and the hostile opposition he faced from the sons of Amar Das, Ram Das founded the town named after him as "Ramdaspur". He started by completing the pool, and building his new official Guru centre and home next to it. He invited merchants and artisans from other parts of India to settle into the new town with him. The town expanded during the time of Arjan financed by donations and constructed by voluntary work. The town grew to become the city of Amritsar, and the pool area grew into a temple complex after his son built the gurdwara Harmandir Sahib, and installed the scripture of Sikhism inside the new temple in 1604.

The construction activity between 1574 and 1604 is described in Mahima Prakash Vartak, a semi-historical Sikh hagiography text likely composed in 1741, and the earliest known document dealing with the lives of all the ten Gurus.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to Guru Granth Sahib being recited near the Akal Takht and Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India.

In 1766, Ahmad Shah invaded the Sikh Confederacy, besieged Amritsar, massacred the populace and destroyed the city.

Old walled city

During Sikh Empire in 1822 Maharaja Ranjit Singh fortified the city starting from a wall at Katra Maha Singh area. Later, Sher Singh continued with the construction of the wall with twelve gates (Lahori Darwaza, Khazana, Hakeema, Rangar Nangalia, Gilwali, Ramgarhia, Doburji, Ahluwalia, Deori Kalan, Rambagh Deori, Shahzada and Lohgarh) in it and a fort named Dhoor Kot that had fortification 25 yards broad and 7 yards high. The circumference of the walled city was around five miles. When in 1849, British annexed Punjab, Amritsar was a walled city and they build thirteenth gate to it known as Hall Gate.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, involving the killings of hundreds of Indian civilians on the orders of a senior British military officer, Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, took place on 13 April 1919 in the heart of Amritsar, the holiest city of the Sikhs, on a day sacred to them as the birth anniversary of the Khalsa (Vaisakhi day).

In Punjab, during World War I (1914–18), there was considerable unrest particularly among the Sikhs, first on account of the demolition of a boundary wall of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj at New Delhi and later because of the activities and trials of the Ghadarites, almost all of whom were Sikhs. In India as a whole, too, there had been a spurt in political activity mainly owing to the emergence of two leaders: Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) who after a period of struggle against the British in South Africa, had returned to India in January 1915, and Annie Besant (1847–1933), head of the Theosophical Society of India, who on 11 April 1916 established the Home Rule League with autonomy for India as its goal. In December 1916, the Indian National Congress, at its annual session held at Lucknow, passed a resolution asking the king to issue a proclamation announcing that it is the "aim and intention of British policy to confer self-government on India at an early date".

On 10 April 1919, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, two popular proponents of the Satyagraha movement led by Gandhi, were called to the deputy commissioner's residence, arrested and sent off by car to Dharamsetla, a hill town, now in Himachal Pradesh. This led to a general strike in Amritsar. Excited groups of citizens soon merged into a crowd of about 50,000 marchings on to protest to the deputy commissioner against the arrest of the two leaders. The crowd, however, was stopped and fired upon near the railway foot-bridge. According to the official version, the number of those killed was 12 and of those wounded between 20 and 30. Evidence before an inquiry of the Indian National Congress put the number of the dead between 20 and 30.

Three days later, on 13 April, the traditional festival of Baisakhi, thousands of Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh. An hour after the meeting began as scheduled at 16:30, Dyer arrived with a group of sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Baluchi soldiers. Without warning the crowd to disperse, Dyer blocked the main exits and ordered his troops to begin shooting toward the densest sections of the crowd. Firing continued for approximately ten minutes. A British inquiry into the massacre placed the death toll at 379.[19] The Indian National Congress determined that approximately 1,000 people were killed.

How to Reach

By Air

Amritsar hosts Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport. The airport is connected to other parts of India and other countries with direct international flights to cities. The Airport is 12th busiest Airport of India in terms of International Traffic. The Airport serves not only Amritsar, but also may other districts in Punjab and neighbouring states.u.

By Rail

Amritsar Junction Railway Station is the primary terminus station serving Amritsar. It is the busiest Railway Station in Indian State of Punjab and one of the highest revenue generating station of Northern Railways. Due to high traffic at the Amritsar Junction Railway Station, Indian Railways has planned to develop 2 satellite stations-Chheharta and Bhagtanwala, in order to decongest traffic at this station. As many as 6 trains would be shifted to Chheharta Railway Station in the first phase.[61] The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation has also planned to make the Amritsar Junction Railway Station, a world class railway station on lines of International Airport based on PPP Model. The project has received an overwhelming response with bids from 7 private firms, including GMR.

By Road

Amritsar is located on the historic Grand Trunk Road (G.T Road), also known as NH 1 now renumbered as National Highway 3. An expressway by name of Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway at the cost of ₹25,000 crore is approved under Bharatmala scheme which will cut the travel time from Amritsar to New Delhi by road from current 8 hours, to 4 hours. Another expressway, called Amritsar Jamnagar Expressway is under construction which will connect Amritsar to Jamnagar in Rajasthan. Additionally, NH 54 (Old NH15), NH 354 and NH 503A connect Amritsar to other parts of state and rest of India. A ring road will also be built surrounding all 4 sides of Amritsar

₹ 450,000,000 is being spent to expand the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of G.T. Road to four lanes. In 2010, elevated road with four lanes connected to the National highway for better access to the Golden Temple has been started.

Amritsar Sightseeing

Golden Temple

The Golden Temple, also known as Harmandir Sahib, meaning "abode of God" Darbār Sahib, meaning "exalted court" , is a gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. It is the preeminent spiritual site of Sikhism.

The gurdwara is built around a man-made pool (sarovar) that was completed by the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das in 1577. Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru of Sikhism, requested Sai Mir Mian Mohammed, a Muslim Pir of Lahore, to lay its foundation stone in 1589. In 1604, Guru Arjan placed a copy of the Adi Granth in Harmandir Sahib. The Gurdwara was repeatedly rebuilt by the Sikhs after it became a target of persecution and was destroyed several times by the Mughal and invading Afghan armies. Maharaja Ranjit Singh after founding the Sikh Empire, rebuilt it in marble and copper in 1809, overlaid the sanctum with gold foil in 1830. This has led to the name the Golden Temple.

The Golden Temple is spiritually the most significant shrine in Sikhism. It became a center of the Singh Sabha Movement between 1883 and 1920s, and the Punjabi Suba movement between 1947 and 1966. In the early 1980s, the Gurdwara became a center of conflict between the Indian government led by Indira Gandhi, some Sikh groups and a faithful movement led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale seeking to create a new nation named Khalistan. In 1984, Indira Gandhi sent in the Indian Army as part of Operation Blue Star, leading to deaths of over 1,000 Sikh soldiers and civilians, as well as causing much damage to the Gurdwara and the destruction of Akal Takht. The Gurdwara complex was rebuilt again after the 1984 damage.

The Golden Temple is an open house of worship for all people, from all walks of life and faith. It has a square plan with four entrances, has a circumambulation path around the pool. The complex is a collection of buildings around the sanctum and the pool.One of these is Akal Takht, the chief center of religious authority of Sikhism. Additional buildings include a clock tower, the offices of Gurdwara Committee, a Museum and a langar – a free Sikh community run kitchen that serves a simple vegetarian meal to all visitors without discrimination. Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship. The Gurdwara complex has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its application is pending on the tentative list of UNESCO.

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