Amritsar is one of the largest towns in Punjab, very close to the Pakistan border. It is the spiritual hub of the Sikh religion, and has tremendous historical significance. Amritsar literally means ‘Pool of nectar’, and it refers to the sacred tank surrounding the Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple. It was known as Ramdaspur long ago; the local name is Ambarsar.
The area of Amritsar is considered to have been part of the Indus Valley civilization. It later came under Greek influence when Alexander conquered the area, and subsequently was part of the Maurya and Gupta empires.
The city formally established in 1574 by Guru Ramdas, the 4th guru of the Sikhs. As he made his residence there, it was then known as ‘Chak Guru’.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was fortified with strong walls; areas called ‘katras’ offering unique defence systems during assaults on the city were meticulously planned and built.
Sher Shah Suri built the Grand Trunk Road which passes through Amritsar, connecting Delhi and Lahore.
Amritsar is famed for Art and Culture, Religion, Spirituality and Heritage
The city is a rich fount of spiritual and national heritage. It of course of paramount importance to Sikhs; apart from the Golden Temple, the city is also home to the Akal Takht, the highest seat of temporal authority of all Sikhs. Hindus and people of other faiths too pray at the Golden Temple.
The Ram Tirath fair held for three days, is celebrated with great fervour and pageantry. The celebration of Basant Panchami at Chheharta Sahib is a much awaited event.
It became a centre for music and spiritual literature in the time of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. The singing of the Shabad Kirtans also originated here. Many renowned artists and litterateurs began their work in Amritsar.
The city is famous for its handloom products and carpets, and hardly a visitor returns without purchasing them. Dress materials with Phoolkari embroidery, and juttis, traditional footwear, are other sought-after items.
Visitors also throng the many memorials and museums that are found in the city.
No visit to Amritsar is complete without a visit to the Jallianwallah Bagh, where hundreds of innocent people were mowed down by British bullets. This event marked a turning point in British rule in India and so has great historical significance.
The Punjabis are a hearty and jovial people, and this is amply reflected in their folk dances, the Bhangra and the Gidda. They are fond of good food and dress, and visitors flock to the numerous dhabas, (eateries) that dish out authentic Punjabi cuisine like Kulcha, Makke di roti, Sarson da Saag Murgh Tandoori, and so on. Lassi, a sweet yoghurt drink is a must after a meal. Pinnis and balushahis are the preferred sweet delicacies.
Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and English are spoken here.
The economy of Amritsar is driven by tourism, handicraft, carpets, agricultural and dairy produce, service trades, and so on. The city is well connected to other cities in India by road, rail and air.
The civic authorities have started several projects to improve infrastructure of the city, like public transport, sewerage, solid waste management and so on.
Tourists would do well to take care of their belongings especially while on foot in the quaint narrow streets.
Climate and Best Time to Visit
The climate is semi-arid and best visiting time is October-March.
- Golden Temple
- Wagah Border
- Jallianwala Bagh
- Attari Border Crossing
- Durgiana Temple
- RamBagh Garden
- Baba Atal Rai Tower
- Central Sikh Musuem