Jewel of Punjab
|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage|
|Area||: 5000 sq km|
|Population||: 1,194,740 (As per Indian census- 2009)|
|Altitude||: 234 meter|
|Best Tourist Season||: October to March|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, heavy woolen in winter|
|Languages spoken||: Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (0183), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 143001|
|What to buy||: Sikh Religious Symbols such as Khandas, Karas, Swords, Daggers, Shields, Images and Photographs of Guru Nanak, Religious CDs, Punjabi Music, Juttis, Warian (Spicy Pulses Ground With Spices), Phulkaari, Patiala Salwars, Shawls, Sarees, Head Scarves, Salwar-Kameez, Carpets, Blankets, Embroidered Items,Traditional Handicraft Items, Durries, Kites, Bangles, Traditional Punjabi Jewelery, Cut-Glass and Woolen Textiles, Lacquered Wooden Works, Fireworks, Pickles, Jams and Jellies, Dry Fruits|
|Popular Shopping Places||: Shops near Golden Temple, Guru Bazaar, the Hall Bazaar flyover, Hall Bazaar, Kapra Market, New Misri Bazaar, Katra Jaimal Singh, Lawrence Road, Cooper Road, Mochi Bazaar, Shastri Market|
|Food Specialties||: Guru Ka Langar, Lachedar Parantha, Tanduri Kulchas, Puirs, Makki Ki Roti, Sarson Da Saag, Bhijje Kulche, Amritsari Stuff Kulcha, Stuffed Aloo Kulcha, Kulche Chole, Channa Bhatura, Channa-Puri, Dal Loaded With Desi Ghee, Maah Di Daal, Rajma Chawal, Kadi Pakoda, Karahi Paneer, Mutton Tikka, Seekh Kabab, Barbecued Chicken, Fried Fish, Tandoori Chicken, Cream Chicken, Amritsari Fish, Gur Ka Halwa, Balushahis, Pinnis, Amritsari Laddoo, Firni, Gulab Jamun, Jalebi, Kheer, Milk Barfi, Milk Products, Sharbat, Rabri, Lassi, Kesar-Piste-Wali-Lassi, Fruit Cream, Kesar Kulfi, Matka Kulfi, Satpuras, Samosas, Spicy Pickles, Papad, Badiyan, Chaat, Marmalades|
Amritsar, the ‘Spiritual Capital’ of Sikhism and the home to the world famous ‘Golden Temple’ is a municipal corporation in the Majha region of the state of Punjab. This city, serving as the administrative capital of the Amritsar District is located approximately 217 kilometers from the state capital Chandigarh and about 32 kilometers from Lahore, the capital of our neighboring country Pakistan. Initially known by two other titles; ‘Ramdaspur’ and ‘Guru Ki Nagri’, the city Amritsar has derived its present appellation from two words ‘Amrit’ and ‘Sar’. ‘Amrit’ means the divine nectar and ‘Sar’ is the short form of Sarovar meaning water tank. Thus, the term ‘Amritsar’ can be explained as ‘the Holy Pool of Nectar’ which refers to the big water tank situated adjacent the sacred Golden Temple.
Amritsar, one of the most ancient civics of the country is a foremost religious and spiritual pivot as well as a leading cultural and historical center of Sikhism in India. Acclaimed as the ‘Jewel of Punjab’, Amritsar is a prosperous gallery of national heritage and a proud anchorage of highly venerated places of worship and pilgrimage. It is also a harbor to important historical sites, vivacious monuments, folk art and culture and delectable traditional cuisine. Amritsar is an axis of Punjab’s political front and an opening to the Gulf Countries. Present day Amritsar is a thriving tourist destination in Northern India. Golden Temple of Amritsar draws more visitors than the Taj Mahal every year. Amritsar receives more than 100,000 tourists weekly and it happens to be the cardinal destination for NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) in the whole country.
History Of Amritsar
Amritsar, one of the principal cities of the state of Punjab was established by Guru Ram Das; the fourth Guru of Sikhism in the year 1574 AD. The mythological history of Amritsar can be traced back to the Ramayana Period when this was the venue of the Ashram of Maharshi Valmiki and the very place where the twin children of Lord Ram; Luv and Kush were born to Devi Sita. During the Vedic period, a number of Sages and Saints used to dwell here. Excavations done by the archeological department around Amritsar have laid hands on a number of sites that take us back to the epoch of Indus Valley Civilization. Some of the chief archeological sites near Amritsar include Vadalol, Chhina, Gharinda, Har and coasts of Ravi, Beas and Doab rivers.
Around 326 BC, Amritsar region came under the Greek influence when the Punjab terrain up to the banks of river Beas was conquered by Alexander the great. After the defeat of Greeks, Amritsar District was made a part of the mighty Mauryan Empire which extended all the way up to Afghanistan. Ashoka the great was the most remarkable Mauryan ruler who was appointed the Viceroy of the Taxila Principality during the reign of his father. Taxila Principality covered the region that is today known as Amritsar. From early 4th century to late 6th century AD, Amritsar belonged to Gupta Empire. Guptas were succeeded by Kushan, Kanishka, Rajput and Shahi Dynasties.
In 1008 AD, Raja Anangpal of Shahi Dynasty was overpowered by Sultan Mahmmod Ghazni and Amritsar was annexed to the Suba (Province) of Lahore under the Muhammdan Supremacy. Sikh influence over Amritsar marked its onset in 16th century when under the guidance of Guru Amar Das Sahib, Guru Ram Das Sahib founded this city in 1574 AD. In 1564 AD Guru Ram Das had started digging the Santokhsar Sarovar alongside a village named Sultanwind which attained completion in 1588 AD. Meanwhile, Guru Ram Das had purchased a piece of land from the owners of Tung for Rs 700. In the year 1574, he built himself a house on the land and started staying there. Owing to his residence there, the place came to be known as ‘Guru Ki Nagri’, which later became ‘Ramdaspur’. The devotees of Guru Nanak and those who were lending hand in the construction of the Santokhsar Sarovar also built huts for themselves and settled around the domicile of Guru Ram Das.
Guru Amar Das instructed Guru Ram Das to dig one more water tank near the ‘under construction’ Santokhsar Sarovar near a ‘Beri’ tree. Guru Ram Das identified the place and the digging work of the second tank commenced on 6th November 1573 under the keen supervision of Guru himself. Innumerable Sikh devotees alighted at Ramdaspur and participated in the holy work of digging the tank. This is the very tank which over the years came to be known by the name ‘Amrit Sarovar’, the water pool adjacent the well known Golden Temple. Ramdaspur was later renamed as Amritsar after this Amrit Sarovar. It is believed that the water of this Sarovar possesses miraculous healing qualities. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple or the ‘Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara’ was laid by Guru Arjan Sahib on 3rd January, 1588. The city Amritsar was fortified by Guru Govind Singh and it also played an important role in the independence struggle of India. The Jallianwala Bagh is the living monument of British tyranny during the period of colonization.
At the time of partition of 1947 the state of Punjab was divided between India and Pakistan when Amritsar remained in India and became a border city. This was the time when Amritsar faced some of the worst communal riots.