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Amritsar
Nightview of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)
Amritsar
Location of Amritsar
in Punjab and India
Coordinates 31°38′N 74°52′E / 31.64°N 74.86°E / 31.64; 74.86
Country  India
State Punjab
District(s) Amritsar
Mayor
Population 1194740 (2009)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area
Elevation

218 m (715 ft)
Website www.amritsarcorp.com/

Amritsar (Punjabi: ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ, translation: The Pool Of The Nectar Of Immortality) is a city in the northwestern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of 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 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Lahore, Pakistan and therefore, very close to India's western border with Pakistan.

Amritsar is home to 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.[1] There is Baba Jivan Singh temple dedicated to the brave Sikh. The 9th Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur was killed by the Mughals in Delhi where there is Guru Sish Ganj Gurudwara. Baba Jivan Singh ji walked from Anandpur to Delhi and managed to capture the head (sis) of Guru Teg Bahadur and presented that to Guru Gobind Singh.

One of Bhagvan Valmiki's or Nirankar Valmiki's ashram was considered to have been situated close to Amritsar. It is said that Goddess Sita, wife of Lord Rama gave birth to Lava and Kush. The forest around the ashram was considered Valmiki's "Tapo van" (forest of meditation). The Durgiana temple is also a very famous Hindu temple located on the city.

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.

Contents

History

Amritsar city is one of the major cities of the Punjab state in India. This city was founded by Guru Ram Das ji in 1574 on land bought by him for 700 rupees (14.42 USD or 8.9 GBP) from the owners of the village of Tung. Earlier Guru Ram Das ji 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 ji 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 Dev Ji's request. A story in Sikh lore tells of a mason who then corrected the stone's alignment and was chided by Guru Arjan Dev ji 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 ji, and again worked on attaining his freedom when he was held for some time at Gwalior Fort. In 1590, Guru Arjan Dev ji moved to the village of Wadali where Guru Hargobind ji 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 ji, 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 ji in 1609. Two flags representing temporal and spiritual authority and Sikh sovereignty were set up in front of the Akal Takht. Here Guru Hargobind ji 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 in Amritsar. 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.

Harimandir Sahib

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, recently renamed as Guru Ramdas 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.

Partition of 1947

Partition of undivided India into India and Pakistan had the most profound effect on the demographics, economics, social structure and culture of Amritsar. The state of Punjab was divided between India and Pakistan and Amritsar became a border city, often on the front lines of India-Pakistan wars. Prior to partition, the Muslim league wanted to incorporate Amritsar into Pakistan because of the Amritsar's proximity to Lahore (a distance of 30 miles) and a nearly 50% Muslim population, but the city became part of India. The Indian National Congress had similar aims of incorporating Lahore into India as Lahore was the cultural, economic, and political capital of undivided Punjab and Hindus and Sikhs constituted nearly 50% of the population, but Lahore became a part of Pakistan. Amritsar and Lahore experienced some of the worst communal riots during the partition of India. Muslim residents of Amritsar left the city en-masse leaving their homes and property behind due to violent anti-Muslim riots in the city. Similar scenes of communal carnage against Hindus and Sikhs were witnessed in Lahore and led to their mass evacuation.

Important Muslim dominated villages in Amritsar district prior to partition include Sultanpur, Kala Afgana, Abdul kalan, Rasheed bal, Lahorie, Qadian, Shahpur, Shahkot, Alipur, Aliwal, Allahbad, Fatehbad, Chak, Guza chak, Jattan, Cheema.

Gallery

Modern Amritsar

Amritsar is currently witnessing rapid urban growth. Government of India and Government of Punjab have unveiled a Rs. 3,150 Crore plan to modernize Amritsar.[citation needed]. Money from the plan would fund construction of roads, water and sewage management, and a mass Rapid transit system. Amritsar has witnessed a spurt in high-end residential property and multiplex development, courtesy the government’s decision to set up a special economic zone there.

Leading property developers from north India have lined up a series of townships comprising of villas, luxury apartments, service apartments and penthouses. About a dozen malls are also in various phases of completion. A new city Convention Centre has been planned (as of October 2007), as are four 5-star hotels by the Radisson group (set to open by October 2008), the Taj group of hotels, the Holiday Inn Group and the Marriott group.

New localities like Sahej enclave are set up by Puda for the Elite in town. Amritsar lately has become hub for medicare for North India. To protect Amritsar's historical and religious heritage, part of the new budget is dedicated to the preservation of religious shrines in the city[citation needed].

Geography and Climate

Amritsar
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
28
 
19
4
 
 
22
 
22
7
 
 
29
 
27
11
 
 
12
 
34
17
 
 
14
 
39
21
 
 
58
 
40
25
 
 
186
 
35
26
 
 
184
 
34
25
 
 
102
 
35
23
 
 
25
 
32
16
 
 
6.2
 
27
9
 
 
15
 
21
5
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: IMD

Amritsar is located at 31°38′N 74°52′E / 31.63°N 74.87°E / 31.63; 74.87 [2] with an average elevation of 234 metres (768 ft).

Amritsar has a warm continental climate, typical of Northwestern India and experiences four seasons primarily: winter season (November to March) with temperature ranges from 4 °C (39 °F) to about 19 °C (66 °F), summer season (April to June) where temperatures can reach 45 °C (113 °F), monsoon season (July to September) and post-monsoon season (September to November). Annual rainfall is about 790 millimetres (31.1 in). Since 1970, the lowest temperature, −2.6 °C (27 °F), was recorded on 21 Jan 2005 [3] and the highest temperature, 47.7 °C (117.9 °F), was recorded on 21 May 1978. [4]

Demographics

As of 2007, Sikhs form a majority in Amritsar consisting about 74% of the population, Hindus being the largest minority at 26%. Males and females constitute 55% and 45% of the population, respectively. Amritsar has an average literacy rate of 75% (which is higher than the national average of 59.5%). 15% of the population is under 6 years of age. The main spoken language in Amritsar and in the surrounding villages is the Punjabi dialect of Maajhi, considered to be Standard Punjabi. Other languages spoken in the city are Hindi and English.

District Administration

  • Administration of departments such as public works, health, education, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc is headed by district officers who belong to various Punjab state services.
  • The Divisional Forest Officer, an officer belonging to the Indian Forest Service is responsible for the management of forests and wildlife in the district. He is assisted by officers of the Punjab Forest Service, other Punjab Forest officials and Punjab Wildlife officials.
  • A Municipal corporation is responsible for the management of public works and health systems in the city of Amritsar. The municipal corporation is a democratic body of councilors and is presided over by the Mayor, who is elected by the councilors. At present, there are more than 70 councilors.
  • The state government's department of Town and Country Planning has a district level office of District Town Planning. Since the formation of this office, the city has not received a comprehensive development plan[citation needed]. Amritsar has been selected by the government of India recently to receive Rs. 1000 Crore in development assistance over the next few years[citation needed].

Transport

Air

Amritsar's international airport, Raja Sansi International Airport, has more than 160 domestic and international flights during the week with daily connections to Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu.

Rail

Amritsar Railway Station at night

Amritsar is well connected with daily trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Benguluru, Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Ujjain, Ahmedbad, Pune and other major Indian cities. The main railway station in Amritsar is the Amritsar Railway Station. There is a special train that runs west to Wagah (Attari Border), which is the last station on the border in India before continuing on to Pakistan. Indian Railways has proposed a high speed rail line to serve Delhi-Amritsar via Chandigarh and Ambala. The train is to run at high speeds of 350 km/h, a first of its kind in India after the Bhopal Shatabdi. It will travel the distance of 445 km between the two cities in 2.5 hours (compared to nearly 8 hours right now). Companies from Japan, China, UK and Canada have expressed an interest in the project. The contract for building the line will be awarded at the end of May, 2008. Other lines of this kind have proposed in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Kolkata. [5][6][7]

Road

Amritsar is located on the historic Grand Trunk Road(G.T Road) also known as National Highway 1 and therefore, very well connected to the road network. Daily bus services run to and from Ambala, Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu. A sum of Rs 450 crores is being spent to expand the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of G.T. Road to four lanes. In 2006, the government of Punjab finalized plans for the construction of an elevated road with four lanes connected to the National highway for better access to the Golden Temple.[8]

For transportation within Amritsar city, rickshaws, autorickshaws, taxis and buses are easily available. Recently, the government of India and Punjab pledged Rs. 2,100 Crore for the development of a Mass Rapid Transport system for the city.[citation needed] It is hoped that this will help in relieving traffic congestion and improving air quality.

Religious Shrines

The following is a list of the prominent Sikh Gurudwaras and sacred places in the city and its vicinity:

  • Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)
  • Dhan Dhan Khalsa
  • 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

The following is a list of important Hindu Temples in the city and its vicinity:

  • Durgiana Temple alias Sitla Mandir

[[

  • Maha Kali Mandir]]


The Maha Kali Mandir is situated at national highway Near Majitha bypass on Jalandhar-Rajashansi airport road. This temple is made by Late Sh. Romesh Chander Sharma and now its running under MAHAKALI MANDIR TRUST.

This Mandir has the temples of Maha Kali, Ram Parivar, Maa Durga, Shri Radha Krishan, Sindori Hanuman Ji, Maa Sarawati, Luxmi Narayan Mandir, Shiv Parivar and this Mandir has the Chamakari Shivling which changes the colour. Mandir also has the Great Murti of God Hanuman on the roof of Mandir.

This temple is the only temple in Amritsar which has Nav Grah Mandirs(Temples of nine Planents).

The Maha Kali Mandir also runs various Charity programs like Eye Check up camp every Sunday at the temple premises,Dispensary and school(stiching) for the girls.

This temple celebrates all major hindu festivals like Shivratri, Holi, Janamashtami,Diwali and Dussheerra.

Dussheera is celebrated on large scale. Many polotician, religious guru's take part in that. Temple witness more then 15- 20,000 public presence for this celebration.

On all the major festivals food is given to all by temple trust.

This trust is running under Mr. Ritesh Kumar Sharma who himself is looking after the temple and organizing all the events.

This temple is helping people in raising the living standards by giving free advice,helping poor girls by giving them free courses like tailoring etc which helps them in earning.

This Temple is also becoming famous in Film and Music industry as a lot of Religious album were shooted in temple premises.

Temple welcomes the Film industry for shooting the scenes and other charity organisations to do any sort of event in good humanity cause which can help everyone without any religion restriction.

  • Mata Lal Devi Mandir
  • Bijli Pehalwan Mandir- Lawrence Road
  • Purshotam Das Mandir
  • Gopal Mandir- Majitha Road
  • Ramtirth- back side Guru Nanak Dev University
  • Longaa Wali Devi Madir- Katra Jaimal Singh

References

External links



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : India : Plains : Punjab : Amritsar
The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) and the main entrance
The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) and the main entrance

Amritsar is a holy city in the state of Punjab, India.

Understand

The name of the city derives from the name of the pool around the Golden Temple (aka Harmandir Sahib) and means "holy pool of nectar" (Amrit: elixir; Sar: (short for sarovar) lake). It is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion, and they are rightfully very proud of the city and their very beautiful and unique Gurdwara (place of worship). The Golden Temple was initiated by Guru Ramdaas Ji, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed in 1601 by his successor Guru Arjan Dev Ji. It is now a major pilgrimage and tourism center.

Get in

Best time to visit Amritsar is in the winter, between October and March

Airport

Raja Sansi International Airport (IATA: ATQ) [1] is about 11 km and a 15-20 minutes drive from the city center. It's one of the modern airports in India and quite adequate if not exactly exciting. Most flights are to Delhi, an hour away, but there are an increasing number of international connections: Jet flies to London, Air India flies to Toronto via London and Air Slovakia flies to Bergamo, Barcelona and Birmingham via Bratislava. There are also surprising numbers of flights to Central Asia (eg. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan).

By train

Amritsar (IR station code : ASR) is an important railway station and is well connected to major cities in India through daily trains. Onward/return trains can be booked online [2], at the train station or, most conveniently, at the small booking office in the Golden Temple Complex.

Here are some useful trains to get to Amritsar:

Train Number Train Name You may board at You may alight at
2013 Shatabdi Express New Delhi Amritsar
2029 Shatabdi Express New Delhi Amritsar
2497 Shan-e-Punjab Express Nizamuddin (Delhi), New Delhi Amritsar
2903 Golden Temple Mail Mumbai Central, Nizamuddin (Delhi) Amritsar
2925 Paschim Express Bandra Terminus (Mumbai), New Delhi Amritsar
2317 Akal Takht Express Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Patna Amritsar
3005 Howrah-Amritsar Mail Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Lucknow, Patna Amritsar
2053 Jan Shatabdi Express Haridwar Amritsar
8102 Muri Express Jammu Amritsar

It's advisable to book your return train ticket as soon as you arrive in Amritsar, or before if you know the exact date, as trains are often heavily booked.

Also see Rail travel in India

By car

Long-distance taxis are available from most places. It takes around 6-7 hours from New Delhi via NH-1.

Amritsar is well-connected by bus to most major cities and the northern areas within a days drive. Pathankot is about 2.5 hours away, and there are daily direct buses to New Delhi, Jammu, Katra, Chandigarh, Dharamsala (once daily, ~6 hours), etc.You can find Volvo buses from Chandigarh , Delhi and Katra to Amritsar.

From Pakistan

If coming from Wagah at the Pakistani border, take a cycle-rickshaw (Rs 15, 3km) to the Attari station, where you can catch a local bus to Amritsar (Rs 15, 25 km).

Taxis also use this route and charge around Rs 200 for the entire vehicle.

  • An auto-rickshaw from the train station to the temple should cost around Rs 40, while a cycle-rickshaw will run about Rs 20.
  • There is a free bus service from the train station to the golden temple

By car

You can easily visit Amritsar by car. There are many car rental companies available which Provide world Class Services.

  • Enterprises Car Rental.
  • Savaari Car Rental, Savaari Car Rental Amritsar [3] has a reputation for providing quality luxury car rentals Amritsar. For more information on online booking of Rental Car in Amritsar, check the website.
  • Hertz Car Rental
The Golden Temple at night
The Golden Temple at night
Pilgrims bathing in the Amrit Sarovar
Pilgrims bathing in the Amrit Sarovar

The Golden Temple [4] is the main attraction in the city, and the most important religious place to the Sikhs. It's a stunning complex, and always full of thousands of pilgrims from all over India, excited to be at a place that they usually only see on television. The excitement to be here is infectious, and many people will be more than happy to tell you all about their religion and customs, and show you around the temple itself. Cover your head, remove your shoes and wander around one of the most amazing places in India. The complex is open almost 24 hours (from 6 AM until 2 AM) and is worth visiting twice: once during the day, once at night, when it's beautifully lit up.

As you arrive near the complex, you will more likely than not be accosted by hawkers trying to sell you bandannas to cover your head. It's not a bad souvenir for Rs.10, but there's also a big barrel of free ones to choose from at the entrance itself. Deposit your shoes at the subterranean building to the left of the entrance, wash your feet at the entrance and head in.

  • Darshani Deori. This is the main entrance, sporting a distinctly Victorian clock-tower.
  • Amrit Sarovar. The giant pool of water that surrounds and reflects the Golden Temple. Sections (marked off by ropes) are set aside for (male) pilgrims wishing to bathe.
  • Harmandir Sahib. This is the Golden Temple itself, floating above the Amrit Sarovar, housing the sacred Adi Granth scripture which is recited out loud during the day. This is the most crowded point, accessible by a bridge from the edge of the pool, and entry here is regulated by guards.
  • Akal Takht, directly opposite the Harmandir Sahib. Meaning "the Timeless, this is where the highest council of Sikhs sits and deliberates. At night, the Guru Granth Sahib is taken to the Akal Takht.
  • Central Sikh Museum, 2nd floor (entrance on the right side of the main side of the main entrance). Devoted to large gallery of paintings, mostly showing the gruesome ways countless Sikhs have been martyred, and various knick-knacks from the gurus. Free.

All Sikhs are expected at some point in their lives to volunteer for a week at the temple, and everyone you see working here is fulfilling that duty. It's likely possible that you can join in if you feel so inclined - you could start by chatting up the people outside peeling vegetables, or those washing dishes.

Jallianwala Bagh Entrance
Jallianwala Bagh Entrance

Jallianwala Bagh (Garden) is a short 5-minute walk from the Golden Temple, and is the site of the 1919 Amritsar massacre. On April 13 of that year, British Indian Army soldiers opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. The firing lasted about 10 minutes and 1650 rounds were fired, killing 1579 people.

A memorial was built on the site and inaugurated by the then-President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on 13 April 1961. to this day the bullet holes can be seen on the walls and adjoining buildings. The well into which many people jumped and drowned attempting to save themselves from the hail of bullets is also a protected monument inside the park.

Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

This palace is located in the Ram Bagh park. Now the palace houses a museum, exibiting oil paintings, miniatures, coins and weapons from the Sikh period.

In this park is the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, so ask, if you are at the right museum.

  • The Golden Temple has a massive library where tourists/visitors can get books on Sikhism for free or at almost very little cost.
  • Almost every Sikh at the temple will be willing to talk to you about the temple and their religion and culture. Go there with an open mind and you'll leave with a smiling heart.
  • Guru Nanak knick-knacks. His face graces all kinds of goodies.
  • CDs of temple recordings, chants, and Punjabi music in the shops along the front of the temple.
  • Punjabi Juttis (shoes) from the tiny shops near the Hall Bazaar flyover.
  • Warian (spicy pulses ground with spices) from Hall Bazaar
  • Sikh symbols and relegious paraphenelia like Karas (sikh relegious bangle), swords, daggers etc from the shops close to the Golden Temple
  • The Golden Temple has a dining hall (langar) serving free basic meals to all... A definite must for visitors. Plates and spoons are handed out near the entrance, then follow the crowds inside and take the next vacant spot in one of the rows on the floor. Servers come by with large buckets of dal, chapatis and rice. Make sure to finish everything on your plate (wasting food isn't an option here!) then take it outside to volunteers at the washing area. It's inside the complex which means no shoes and cover your head.
  • Crystal Restaurant, around the corner of Bhandari Bridge serves up great Indian, Italian, Continental and Chinese food.
  • My Kind of Place offers fast food such as pizza, burgers, and chips. It offers Chinese & Continental food also.
  • The Brothers or Bharavan the Dhaba, is place situated near to Golden Temple where you can eat traditional food or chinese, continental where you can enjoy taste of your choice at affordable prices.
  • New Punjabi Rasoi, around the corner from the temple it's one of the most popular restaurants in town and serves up great Indian food including tasty masala dosas. Meals ~Rs 40-60.
  • Neelam's, a few doors down from New Punjabi Rasoi, offers pizza and other basics. Meals from Rs 30.
  • Pizza Hut, Yes, the American chain. about a 30 - 50 Rs Auto-Rickshaw ride from the golden temple. Most auto-rickshaw drivers know where it is, or can get directions. Good if your stomach needs a western meal for a change. Comes with customer service that one would expect in a four-star restaurant in the west.
  • kesar da dhaba. Located near the Golden Temple, it offers good Punjabi food made in pure ghee. Daal Makhni is worth trying. Don't forget to try a glass of Lassi after a heavy meal.  edit
  • Bubby Dhaba, opposite Golden Temple (Just opposite the main entrance of Golden Temple). serves authentic Punjabi food at a very reasonable cost and ideally located, just few meteres from the main entrance of the Holy Golden Temple  edit
  • Mohni Shawls, Guru Bazar, 911832542599. This is the ultimate destination of good quality Shawls and Stoles with a very wide range of designs  edit

Note: There are very few Decent Non Veg Joints and almost non near the temple complex.

Drink

Lassi is the good Yogart(Curd) Drink there in Amritsar.

All indian and imported alcoholic drinks are available at the omnipresent licenced liquor stores with prices ranging from Rs 100 for a local english whisky to Rs 1000 for good scotch whisky like teachers.

  • Food & Beverages, near Hotel Mohan International. Imported wines, beers and other liquors.
  • The Golden Temple offers free accommodation to pilgrims and tourists in very basic dorms or 3-bed rooms in Guru Ram Das Niwas, behind the temple. While free, donations are expected (Rs 50-100 minimum per person per night is appropriate). You should also remain quiet and respectful of the surroundings, keeping in mind that this is a holy place of pilgrimage more than a tourist attraction. Alcohol and smoking are strictly forbidden, not only within the temple complex but anywhere within eye-sight of the temple complex. If you can handle that, then this is arguably the best place to stay - watching people go about their routine, talking to the pilgrims, and absorbing the gorgeous atmosphere. Put your donations in the donation box near the entrance to Ram Das Niwas, as opposed to the guards who will ask you for it when checking out.
  • Hotel Sita Continental, Sheran Wala Gate, Ph +91-183-5002840 is 10 minutes walk from Golden Temple. Its basic, new and clean. Rates for double bed-room vary between Rs. 550-650.
  • Tourist Guesthouse, 1355 GT Road, a popular backpackers choice near the railway station. Rates for double bedroom Rs. 250-400
  • Hotel Sapphire, [5] Hotel near Golden Temple having view of Golden Temple from Hotel Rooms. Rs 1250.
  • Hotel CJ International, +91-183-254 3478,09876444000 [6]. A newer hotel just Opp. Golden Temple and with views of the Golden Temple. Rs 1200. Also now they have beautiful splurge higher end rooms beautifully designed & created. Rs. 2000. Wifi enabled lobby & restaurant.
  • Hotel Heritage Inn, 0919876631047, [7]. Next to Golden Temple. Rooms are well furnished and decorated. Rs.1350.
  • Royal Castle A nice hotel located in the city about 15 min from the Golden Temple. Though they claim to be a 3 star hotel 2 is more like it. They have decent rooms for around Rs 2,100 a night.
  • Hotel City Heart, [8] Hotel near golden temple and jallian wala bagh. Offers views of Golden Temple and the city. Rs 800-1550.
  • Hotel Indus, [9] Hotel right opposite to Golden Temple. Offers direct views of Golden Temple and the city. Rs 1450-1650.
  • Hotel Sarovar Plaza, [10], Bazar Maisewan near Golden Temple, phone="0183-2535354-5, Rs. 1000-2850, Very neat and clean rooms, 24hrs room service and panaromic view of Golden Temple
  • Ista Amritsar, MBM Farms, G.T. Road (adjoins Alpha One City Center), +91 183-2708888, [11]. 5 star hotel with a contemporary design, two restaurants, lounge and spa. Rooms starting at Rs 5000.
  • Hotel P.R. Residency, 4 Kms from Railway Station, Ranjit Avenue +91-98141-76567, 2502666. Located in the most porsh area, it has undoubtedly the best rooms and view in the town. Along with the most modern equipped suites, it is a great local favourite for dining for its hospitality n memorable stay. Dont forget to try out Golden Fried Chicken and continental cuisine. Rooms starting at 2000 to 4000 for suites.
  • Ranjit’s Svaasa, 47-A The Mall (opposite the Ebony Mall, down a little side street) [12]. The only boutique hotel in town, and a comparative oasis of calm in an otherwise hectic city. Ranjit's is set in an old colonial house, and has been nicely refurbished with understated style - the place looks at its best at night. There is also a spa and small restaurant attached. Must be Amritsar's most expensive hotel with rooms starting at around Rs.5,000 per night.
  • Grand Legacy, 8 G.T. Road (near railway station), tel. +91-183-5069991, [13]. Claims to be Amritsar's best hotel and the public areas look nice enough, but the rooms (and especially the bathrooms) don't quite pull it off. Avoid the restaurant downstairs, or face amoebic dysentery. Single/double from Rs. 2000/3150.
  • Ritz Plaza, 45 The Mall, 256 2836, [14]. A more classy hotel also located in the city with good rooms and service and a swimming pool. Price starts at approx Rs 2,500 a night.
  • MK Hotel, Ranjit Ave, 250 7911, [15]. Slightly out of town, but a nicer more upmarket option with great service. Doubles from Rs 3000, suites available.
  • ONKAR CREATIONS baba deep singh colony/ 2556462 the only boutique in a city famous for stiching,embrodiary,painting,with exclusive suits,dresses and material located just 2 mins walking distance from gurdwara shaeed baba deep singh and 7 mins walking distance from golden temple.
  • Hotel AJ Regency . Small but comfortable air-conditioned rooms. About RS. 700/night.
Behave!
Behave!

The sectarian strife of the 1980s is just a bad memory and Amritsar is currently a safe and welcoming city, if a little polluted.

  • You should remain aware and respectful of the Sikh religion anywhere near the Golden Temple complex.
  • Inside the complex both men and women are required to cover their heads (scarfs are widely available throughout the town for Rs 10, or a box of them are free to use at the entrances to the temple).
  • Smoking and alcohol are forbidden not only within the complex but anywhere within eye-sight of the temple. Lighting up a cigarette on the busy street out front may not seem strange but will definitely attract negative attention, as will spitting near the temple.
  • Photography is allowed on the outside ring of the holy lake, but not inside the actual temple itself.

Contact

Internet

There are quite a few good internet surfing facilities in Amritsar. Reliance WebWorld and Sify Internet kiosks are located at strategic locations.

  • Cyber Swing, (above New Punjabi Rasoi restaurant), has several machines and a decent connection. Rs 40/hour.
  • Cyber Pub, Opposite District Courts on Airport Road. Scanner and printer available.
  • Visit the Pakistan border at Wagah to see the border closing ceremony. Indian and Pakistani soldiers do a march-off every evening, a popular and fun event. Taxis leave from the backside of the Golden Temple. It's a 45 minute ride, and you should leave Amritsar by around 3:30PM. Their are basically two options for getting there one is to hire a taxi/autoriksha or go in a pool in taxi,charges would be a minimum of 350 for hiring an auto,the cheaper option would be to go for a pool in taxi which would cost about 60 - 80 rupees per person , 'however, beware ,these taxis are nearly in junk condition and its risky travelling in them'.Tickets for the pool in taxi is available at the golden temple gates with agents arriving around 3 pm on the spot with little chits of paper they call tickets.
  • Lahore – armed with a visa, take the plunge into this bustling gateway city, one of the cultural hubs of Pakistan
This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

Amritsar (ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ), meaning: The Lake of the Holy Nectar,[1] is the capital of the Amritsar District in the state of Punjab, India. According to the 2001 Indian census the population of the city was over 1,500,000.

Amritsar is located in the north-western part of India in the State of Punjab, 32km east of Lahore, Pakistan. It is home to the Harimandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, and is the centre of the Sikh religion.

History

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The city has been famous for many events in history, one of these was the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 under British Rule when a lot of people were killed by British troops. The city is also famous for Operation Bluestar, a military operation, that took place in 1984 that was ordered by the late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Many Sikhs were angered by Operation Bluestar as the holy temple of the Sikhs was damaged.

References

  1. Amritsar City Information Guide of Amritsar India

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