Amritsar is home to the Golden Temple, the informal name of Harmandir Sâhib. It is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh community. The name “Amritsar” is composed of Punjabi words “amrit” (which can be translated to nectar) and “sar” (which can be translated to basin, lake).
In the sixteenth century, a simple land bought for Rs700 from owners of the village of Tung by the fourth guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das. Construction work began in 1573 by digging the sacred basin, which gives its name to the city. In 1601, the Golden Temple was completed and three years later the Sikh sacred book, also considered as the last Guru of Sikhism, AdiGranth, was installed by the successor of Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan. During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the city of Amritsar overtook Lahore as the main city of Punjab.
HOW TO REACH :
Amritsar is easily accessible from all major cities.
By Air : There are daily directly flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Amritsar.
By Train : There are daily trains operating from Delhi to Amritsar.
By Road : Udaipur is very well connect by road.
- Chandigarh to Amritsar (230 KMS)
- Dharamshala to Amritsar (205 KMS)
- Dalhousie to Amritsar (200 KMS)
THE GOLDEN TEMPLE OF AMRITSAR
Like the Taj Mahal in Agra or Varanasi, which is a religious ancient city, visiting the Golden Temple when you travel to Amritsar in India should be a must-visit in your travel program. Although, Amritsar is not your ideal sightseeing location, quite a bit of tourists come to discover this absolutely beautiful and magical site.
Its construction was ordered in 1601 by Gurû Arjan, 5th spiritual leader of the Sikhs at the very place where the first of them, Gurû Nanak, came to meditate.Destroyed during an Afghan invasion in 1757 the building was rebuilt eight years later.
On June 5, 1984, the temple became victim of a military operation ordered by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to dislodge the Sikh separatists who had entrenched themselves there. This massacre officially killed 84 and wounded 248 amongst the attacking soldiers, while the pilgrims’ death count reached 493 (including 100 women and 75 children) with 86 wounded.The temple, burnt again during the operation, was rebuilt. The violation of their holy place was considered a major insult by some Sikhs. The massacre resulted in the assassination of Indira Gandhi four months later by his Sikh bodyguards.
The Golden Temple is located at a low point in the city, which means that it naturally welcomes all disciples. It sits at the center of a 150-meter-square “sacred basin”, the AmritSarovar (or “Nectar Basin”), which, like a lake, attracts all the waters towards itself just like the temple attracts all disciples . The basin was dug during the last quarter of the sixteenth century when the city was founded. This is where its name originates from. The basin is accessed through four entrances that symbolizes its openness to people from all faiths and beliefs. The temple is surrounded by a vast complex including a gurudwara (Sikh place of worship), one of the most emblematic places is the Akal Takht (or “Throne of the Immortal”), a kitchen where free meals are offered to pilgrims (langar), a museum, etc.
The temple is a majestic three-storey pavilion, the upper parts of which were covered with gold in the nineteenth century on order of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The building was built with marbles of different colors, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and semi-precious stones. The terrace, decorated with four chhatri (structures surmounted by a dome supported by four pillars), is surmounted by a golden cupola in the shape of an inverted lotus.The Golden Temple contains the sacred book of Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.”Kirtan”, the sacred hymns, are sung all the time, while musicians play devotional music.
And what about that huge canteen? Besides the temple, there’s also facilty for a dine-in. Hundreds of thousands of meals are distributed every day and everything is free. The Sikhs will never ask you for a “tip” inside the Golden Temple. You can help if you wish, especially for the preparation of dishes (it will be good for your karma!).
At night, the Temple becomes magical with thousands of lights and pilgrims walking around. But whatever the time, songs will accompany your steps; songs of peace and harmony read in the sacred book by a Sikh.
A historical destination, only a few meters from the Golden Temple is a garden called “JallianwalaBagh”, which has to be part of your plan while you Travel to Amritsar. This garden could have remained a rather secret location in the shadow of the Golden Temple, but in 1919 the horror has a name with the “Amritsar Massacre”. It is here that entire families, who were unarmed, came to express their dissatisfaction with the policy of the British crown. These Indian families were slaughtered under the command of General Dyer. There was only one exit and the British were able to kill a fair amout of people without any resistance. More than 300 were dead including women and children. Traces of bullet impact are still present. Even wells where people had to jump to avoid getting hit by bullets are still present. The Amritsar authorities have made this park a very beautiful memorial. There is also a small museum with explanations and portraits of the various protagonists.
KHALSA COLLEGE OF AMRITSAR
Architecture lovers will be thrilled by this place. Indeed, the architecture of this university is splendid and worth a visit at least from the outside when you Travel to Amritsar. This building is over 100 years old and is a classified historic monument and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Amritsar. As often witnessed in universities of the former British colony, there are beautiful green spaces and gardens around the university.
WAGAH BORDER CEREMONY
Wagah Border is a place you simply can not miss while you travel to Amritsar. One hour drive from Amritsar, you have a crossing point between Pakistan and India at the Wagah border post. Every evening, both countries lower their respective flags and close the border for the night. On both sides a ceremony takes place, national anthems, military parade etc. The military on both sides oppose the one who will have the best outfit (mustache, uniform with turban and feathers) in a good-natured atmosphere and under thousands of supports from both sides who sit in stands to see this show that lasts only 30 minutes. When soldiers on both sides approach each other with their legs raised to the sky, the crowds vociferate even more the name of their countries. It will be mandatory to arrive fairly early to enjoy closing of the borders without any hassle. The ceremony begins at 16:15 in winter and around 17:15 in summer. Good news, while we pay more than the locals for tourist sites in India to see the same thing, this time we are advantaged. Because places are allocated to tourists where you can see the show as a VIP. Attention! Bring your passport along.
Don’t forget to book your Tour packages for Amritsar and enjoy a warm and heartfelt location with joy.