Amritsar

Amritsar (ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ) is the administrative headquarters of the Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering just over 3,695,077.

Amritsar is located in the northwestern part of India in the State of Punjab, 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Lahore, Pakistan. Some have taken the name Amritsar to derive from Amŗit-saagar, meaning "The Ocean of the Nectar of Immortality".

It is home to the Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. This important Sikh shrine attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal in Agra and is the number one destination for non-resident Indians (NRI) in the whole of India.[citation needed]. Amritsar is considered important and holy by hindus as well, as according to the greatest epic of hinduism, this was a place where Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, gave birth to twins Lava and Kusha. The birth took place in the ashram of Valmiki rishi. Beside this Durgaina temple is also a very famous hindu temple.

Amritsar is also known for the incidents of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919 under British Rule and Operation Bluestar in 1984 under the late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.

The main commercial activities include tourism, carpets and fabrics, farm produce, handicrafts, service trades and light engineering. The city is popular and known for its food and culture. Amritsar is also home to Central Khalsa Orphanage, which was once a home for Shaheed Udham Singh, a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement.

 
Gallery
Shri Harimandar Sahab Shri Harimandar Sahab Shri Harimandar Sahab Amrinder23  

History

Amritsar city is one of the major cities of the Punjab state in India. This city was founded by Guru Ram Das in 1574 on land bought by him for 700 rupees from the owners of the village of Tung. (Earlier Guru Ram Das had begun building Santokhsar Sarovar, near the village of Sultanwind in 1564 {according to one source in 1570}. It could not be completed before 1588. In 1574, Guru Ram Das built his residence and moved to this place. At that time, it was known as Guru Da Chakk. (Later, it came to be known as Chakk Ram Das).

Since then this city has been known as Amritsar (after the name of the sarovar). The first stone of the foundation of the Darbar Sahib is said to have been laid by Sain Mian Mir Sahib, a Muslim saint from Punjab, at Guru Arjan's request. A story in Sikh lore tells of a mason who then corrected the stone's alignment and was chided by Guru Arjan for doing so with the Saint stating that the re-alignment was symbolic of the complex being continually attacked and rebuilt. Masons worked on laying the foundation on January 3, 1588.

Sant Mian Mir was very friendly with Guru Arjan Dev and tried to intercede with the Guru's subsequent torture and death at the hands of the Emperor Jahangir. He continued to be a friend of the next Guru, Guru Hargobind, and again worked on attaining his freedom when he was held for some time at Gwalior Fort. In 1590, Guru Arjan Dev moved to the village of Wadali where Guru Hargobind was born on June 19, 1590. By 1601, the Darbar Sahib was fully ready. In 1603-1604, the first volume of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures, was prepared in this city and was installed at Darbar Sahib on August 16, 1604.

It is here that the Akal Takht (The throne of immortality, lit. the never ending throne) the seat of Sikh political power was built by Guru Hargobind in 1609. Two flags representing temporal and spiritual authority and Sikh sovereignty were set up in front of the Akal Takht. Here Guru Hargobind wore two swords of Miri and Piri (temporal and transcendental authority).

On April 13, 1634, the Mughal army attacked Guru Hargobind here. From 1635 to 1698, Amritsar remained in the control of the Mina family (descendants of Pirthi Chand). During this period, on November 23, 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur visited the town. In April 1698, Bhai Mani Singh was appointed as the caretaker of the shrines of Amritsar.

The Mughal chief of Patti tried to occupy Amritsar several times. One such attempt was made in April 1709. The Sikhs, under the command of Bhai Mani Singh and Bhai Tara Singh of Dhillwan, repelled this attack. When Baba Banda Singh Bahadur occupied several areas in the Punjab, Bhai Mani Singh chose to leave Amritsar in order to avoid the Mughal attacks. On December 30, 1711, the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, granted Ajit Singh Palit the charge of Amritsar in order to use him against Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. After the death of Bahadur Shah, Ajit Singh Palit returned to Delhi. In 1721, Bhai Mani Singh returned to Amritsar and re-started regular worship. His first act was to solve a dispute between the Tat Khalsa and the Bandai Khalsa factions for the right to the management of the shrines in Amritsar.

On March 29, 1733, a major gathering of Sikhs was held here in front of Akal Takht. During the same time a Sarbat Khalsa gathering was also held. It discussed the Mughal offer of Nawab-hood. In April 1734, Bhai Mani Singh was arrested and was executed in Lahore on June 24, 1734.

In 1740, Massa Ranghar, an official, desecrated the Darbar Sahib. He was killed for this action by Bhai Sukha Singh and Bhai Mahtab Singh, on August 11, 1740. In 1757 an Afghan army of Ahmed Shah Abdali demolished both the Darbar Sahib and the Akal Takht. Baba Deep Singh led several thousand Sikhs against the Afghans. A major battle was fought on November 11, 1757. Baba Deep Singh and several thousand Sikhs were killed. Again, in 1762, the Darbar Sahib complex was again demolished by an Afghan army. On December 1, 1764, the Afghan army made another attack. 30 Sikhs, led by Jathedar Gurbakhsh Singh, fought against the mammoth Afghan army and were killed. In 1765, the Sikhs began re-construction of the shrines. The central part was ready by 1776.

During the eighteenth century, Amritsar, like the Sikh community as a whole, witnessed many vicissitudes of history. It suffered repeatedly desecration and destruction until it was finally liberated upon the establishment of sovereign authority of the Sikh misls, principalities, over the Punjab in 1765. The town was thereafter under the control of several misl chiefs although its surrounding district was held by Sardār Harī Siṅgh of the Bhāṅgī misl. Different sardārs or chiefs constructed their own buṅgās or residential houses around the principal sarovar and also their respective kaṭṛās or wards encouraging traders and craftsmen to reside in them and over which each exercised exclusive control. The sacred shrines were however administered by a joint council comprising representatives of the chiefs who had made endowments in land for their maintenance. Even prior to the time of Sikh ascendancy, joint councils, known as Sarbat Khalsa (lit. the entire Sikh Panth), to take crucial decisions on political matters had been held at Amritsar. Now again with all misl chiefs having their buṅgās there, it became the common capital of the Khālsā. Devotees from far and near, free to visit the holy city after six decades of the severest persecution, flocked to Gurū kī Nagarī (the Gurū's town). So did businessmen and tradesmen to take advantage of the increasing pilgrim and resident population. Trade, commerce and crafts flourished in different kaṭṛās each having its own markets and manufacturings. By the end of the eighteenth century, Amritsar had already become Punjab's major trading center. Yet the town with its multiple command setup remained a confederated rather than a composite habitation until Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh (1780-1839) rose to power and consolidated the whole of the Punjab into one sovereign State.

Ranjīt Singh, chief of the Sukarchakīā misl, who first occupied, in 1799, Lahore, the traditional capital of the Punjab, and declared himself Mahārājā in 1801, extended his hegemony to Amritsar in 1805 when he took over from his traditional rivals, the Bhāngī chiefs, their fort with its mint striking the Nānakshāhī rupee, and the famous Zamzamā gun. The fort of the Rāmgarhīā misl was occupied in 1815 and with the possessions of Rānī Sadā Kaur of Kanhaiyā misl and Fateh Singh Āhlūwālīā in Amritsar during the early 1820s, Ranjīt Singh's occupation of Amritsar was complete. He then constructed a double wall and a moat around the city with twelve gates and their corresponding bridges over the moat. Already in 1809 he had constructed the Gobindgarh Fort outside Lahaurī Gate complete with a formidable moat, three lines of defense and several bastions and emplacements for heavy guns. Amritsar thus had already become his second capital. The royal Toshākhānā or treasury was kept in Gobindgarh Fort which was also used as the royal residence during the Mahārājā's frequent visits to the city before his palace in the city, Rām Bāgh, was completed in 1831. Several members of the nobility also raised palatial houses and beautiful gardens in and around the city. Ranjīt Singh devoutly provided liberal funds to have the dome and exterior of the Darbar Sahib gold plated and to have the interior ornamented with fine filigree and enamel work and with decorative murals and panels in marble inlaid with colored stone. Sardār Desā Singh Majīthīā (died 1832), who had been appointed manager of the holy shrines in the city since its occupation by Ranjīt Singh, donated gold for gilding the top of Bābā Attal. Around 1830, Ranjit Singh had Muslim goldsmiths to gold-plate some parts of the inner section of the Darbar Sahib. The Gold plating led to it being called the Golden Temple.

In 1846, the British established themselves in the Lahore Darbar, with a resident in the Court; and, Amritsar became a place of frequent visits by the British. In order to keep the sanctity of the city, H. M. Lawrence, the British resident, issued an order, dated March 24, 1847, asking the English people to follow Sikh protocol while visiting Sikh places of worship. In 1858, a municipal committee was set up here. In 1862, train services between Lahore and Amritsar were started. Khalsa College, the first Sikh college was established here in 1892. [In 1969 Guru Nanak Dev University was established here]. In 1913, the city was electrified. In September 1915, the British declared Amritsar a holy City. (This order was later annulled after Indian independence in August 15, 1947 by the Indian government). On April 13, 1919, General Reginald Dyer opened fire on the gathering, at Jallianwala Bagh, near Darbar Sahib, killed 379 people and wounded another 1200. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.G.P.C.) and the Shiromani Akali Dal were established here in 1920.

In addition to the damage done by the Afghan armies the Akal Takht was damaged by the Indian government forces in June 1984 during Operation Blue Star launched to deal with a Sikh secessionist movement which had fortified the Holy site with automatic weapons and rocket launchers. The Group was headed by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale head of the Damdami Taksal, a mobile college begun by Guru Gobind Singh. The Indian government repaired it in September 1984. The Sikhs promptly removed the work done by the Indian Government and re-did the repairs themselves. They began demolishing the repairs on January 26, 1986. The present structure was repaired by five service-groups headed by Baba Thakar Singh of Bhindranmehta Jatha.

The city is dominated by the history of Hindus and Sikhs and many of their sacred shrines are found in and around the city. It was established by Guru Ramdas. The city has highest temporal seat of Sikhs "The Harimandir Sahib" popularly known as Golden Temple. The city has central old city called walled city. It has narrow zig zag streets mostly developed in the 17th and 18th century. The city has a peculiar example of introvert planning system and has uniques areas called Katras. The Katras are self styled residential units that provided unique defence system during attacks on the city.

The city lies on the main Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) from Delhi to Amritsar connecting to Lahore in Pakistan. The G. T. Road, built by Sher Shah Suri, runs through the whole of the northern half of the Indian subcontinent, connecting Peshawar, Pakistan to Sonargaon, Bangladesh. The city is also connected to most other major cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta by an extensive network of rail system. The city also provides air connectivity to major Indian cities, as well as international cities such as Birmingham, Toronto, Dubai, Singapore, Tashkent, Ashgabat, London etc from the Raja Sansi International Airport. The airport is being developed for increasing demand in future; a new International inbound & outbound terminal is operational and cargo terminal is also under construction.

The city is the administrative center for the Amritsar District. Amritsar developed from a small village pool to a business center. However, it did not become the industrial center of Punjab due to its proximity to the volatile Indo-Pak border.

Geography

Amritsar is located to north-west of Ferozepur city at a distance of about 109 km.Apart from Ferozepur, Gurdaspur and Kapurthala are other two cities surrounding Amritsar. Other nearby cities include Hoshiarpur,Jalandhar and Nawanshahr (located to the east of Amritsar),to the south of Amritsar are Moga, Faridkot and to south-east is Ludhiana.In the west direction Amritsar shares international border with Pakistan lying 32 kilometres east of Lahore.

Places of Interest

  • Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)
  • Takht Sri Akal Takht Sahib
  • 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
  • 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
  • Gurdwara Sardar Natha Singh Shaheed
  • Ram Tirath, the birth place of Luv and Kusha. Their mother Sita got settled here after she vacated Ayodhaya. This is originally an ashram set up by Rishi Valmiki, who authored Ramayana.
  • Durgiana Mandir.
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