World Tourism Day – Exploring Amritsar; Taste the “Amritsari Amrit”

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Image courtesy: feelindia.org

On the occasion of world tourism day, scribbes.com, takes the opportunity to walk us through the land of the Golden Temple (Amritsar). Amritsar has pretty much emerged as the heart of Punjab. The city enlists a number of historical accounts, delivering travellers to a rich cultural heritage. From lush field to, dated monuments and upcoming technology, Amritsar has it all.

The pervading peace around the vicinity of the Golden Temple is a sight to behold. At the crack of dawn when you see the sun rising against the golden backdrop of the temple. Your energy synergises with the universe making you one with the lord. The gravity of the Sikh faith firmly grips you channelling your pathway more favourably.

Amritsar – a city

Historical events graphically relay in my imagination as we take to highway. My rather effervescent and fun loving chauffer gave me a virtual tour of the city while on my way to the Golden Temple. Interestingly, as a tourist, the only thing I knew of Amritsar was the Jalianwala Baug, and the Wagh Border. But interacting with the locals proved to be fruitful, as they give you greater insight on the lesser-known monuments in the city. My curiosity knew no bounds, and I decided to make my way to these lovely historical sites.

The old ‘bazar’ that sprawls around the vicinity of the Golden Temple totally caught my fancy. The traditional, colourful Amritsari ‘Juttis’ (Shoes) and ‘Phulkari’ (material for ladies suits), enticed me, and I blithely hopped away on a shopping trip.

A rumbling sound from my tummy pushed me towards a typical ‘dhaba’, where I could avail of the choicest of Punjabi food. Oh yes! How could I forget the divine ‘phirni’?

The Golden Temple

The construction of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) concluded in the 16th century by Guru Arjan Dev. The Sikhs consider the Golden Temple as the epitome of the Sikh faith. The ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ (holy scripture) rests in the temple. On  the brink of dusk, pious devotees zealously participate in the ‘Palki Saheb’ ceremony, where the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’  is carried onto a palanquin to the ‘Akal Takht’ to rest. The ‘Akal Takth’ is also where the Sikh parliament meetings are organised from time to time.

The Sikhs have also constructed a ‘Gurudwar’ in honour of the very first Granthi of the Harmandir Saheb (Golden Temple). ‘Baba Buddha Ji’ had served and anointed most of the Sikh Gurus. He was very close to Guru Nanak. This Gurdwar is also known as ‘Baba Buddhaji Gurdwar’. After the temple visitations are concluded, devotees are guided to take the ‘langar’. Lakhs of people flock to the temple to avail of the delicious food that is prepared by the volunteers at the langar. Even as you walk out of the temple the priest gives you a spoonful of rich and delicious ‘Halwa’ as a little blessing from the Guru.

The Jalianwalla Bagh, a significant monument for martyrs is just a two minute walk from the temple. The site takes us back to the horrific happenings of Major General Dyer during the British Era. Even today, you can see the walls riddled with the bullets that were fired back then.

Ram Tirth Mandir

Many think that the Ramayan is a ficticious account enlisted by Valmiki. But Ram Tirth is situated eleven kilometres outside Amritsar city, proves us wrong. It is more eminently known as the birthplace of the sons of Ram, Luv and Kush. The Temple also houses Valmiki’s hut (the great sage who wrote the Ramayana). When Ma Sita was exiled, she lived here at this very place. This is evident as Hanuman even scooped out the earth to give rise to an evergreen well.

Wagha Border

Wagha border better known as the ‘Attari crossing’ is the last station of India (from the state of Punjab). Crossing this border could take you to Pakistan! The energetic flag down ceremony in the evening is a sight to behold. The premises flock with a number of visitors to witness this ceremony. Soldiers from India and Pakistan showcase their patriotic fervour as they conduct the ceremony. However before getting there please ensure you take the necessary permissions to get into the V.I.P. quota rather than getting caught up in the crazy crowds.

Pul Kanjri

Very close to the Wagha border is a ‘Bardari’ constructed by Maharana Ranjit Singh. The emperor and his troupe as a guesthouse used the ‘Bardari’ during times of war. The monument has Mughal leanings. There is also a bridge constructed. It is believed that Moran’s (the emperor’s favourite courtesan) shoe once fell in the canal flowing past the ‘Bardari’, she insisted that if the bridge be constructed, or else she would participate in the evening dance rituals. Moran only resumed to entertain the emperor once the bridge was built. This is also how the bridge got its name ‘Pul Kanjari’ , the bridge for the courtesan. The Pul Kanjari houses a ‘Masjid’, a ‘Gurdwara’, and a temple, displaying the secular beliefs of the Maharaja. The frescos give a vivid description of the proceedings at court, and also display instances from the Hindu Mythological scriptures. The monument is a UNESCO world heritage site, but it has not received as much attention as the other monuments and historical sites.

Kalanaur

There is acommon belief stating, that if you haven’t visited Kalanaur, you haven’t seen anything at all. Kalanaur has invests in a rich historical past. Behram Khan, crowned Akbar as emperor of the Mughal Empire in Kakanor. Muslim brothers of the Noor tribe founded the city. The fort could have also borrowed its name by a celebrated Shiv temple in that region. Kalanaur was ruled over by King Janme Jiya who was the great grandson of the warrior Arjuna. The city was a major urban centre during the 14th and 16th century. A beautiful palace was built by Firuz Tughluq Shah on the banks of the banks of the Kiran rivulet. traces of this palace stand to this day.

Kartarpur

Guru Nanak founded the ‘City of God’, in 1522. It is believed that Guru Nanak spent the last days of his life in Kartarpur. Just three kilometres away from Kartarpur is Guru Nanak’s Shine, Dera Nanak Saheb. This falls under the Pakistani Jurisdiction. The ‘Gurdwar’ can be viewed using a pair of binoculars. Hindus and Muslims visit the Shrine from both the nations.

One may sound very historical and pious in their ways if they sound off their visit to Amritsar. But while there is history and religion lie on one hand of the city of Amritsar, other come alive with the modern skyscrapers and malls. Amritsar is fast emerging as a MICE destination for most business goers.

Note: Images used in the article has been taken from different sources for representation purpose.

 

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