Located in the state of Punjab, Amritsar is one of the most important Sikh pilgrimage in the country. Religious, historical as well as contemporary sites of importance characterize the city. At the Golden Temple, the Sikhs from across the globe come to pay their reverence to Guru Granth Sahib and take a dip in the Amrit Saras Kund (Pool of Immortality) for spiritual purification is the major landmark of the place.
An Amritsar Tour boasts of the historic and religious path covered by India. The most popular and famous landmark is the Golden Temple Amritsar followed by other religious shrines. The holy place offers you the lap of spirituality and the spirit of selfless service taught by the Sikh faith. A Tour to Amritsar makes you forget your daily routine tension, stress and the tedious job. At the Amritsar tour you just remember peace, solace and divinity developing the feeling of oneness towards the whole humanity.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar
Amidst the water, this majestic monument stands with pride. For the Sikh community the Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara Golden Temple is the final spiritual "vision," journey's end or beginning. For other communities also, the Amritsar Tour is a must visit.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar is the most exalted of all Sikh shrines, drawing pilgrims from near and far for centuries. The temple's story began some four centuries ago when the third Sikh Guru Amar Das asked Guru Ram Das (who succeeded him) to build a central place for the congregation of the Sikhs. Guru Arjan Dev completed the work started by Guru Ram Das in the 16th century. The Golden Temple Gurdwara has four entrance doors, called deoris, in all four directions-symbolic of the new faith that made no distinction between caste and creed. People could enter and bow in any direction they want to.
Oral tradition dictates that the Muslim divine Pir Mian Mir of Lahore, at the request of the fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev laid the foundation of the temple in 1588. The Guru's followers settled down in the neighborhood and a small town called Ramdaspur quickly came up, deriving its later name, Amritsar, from the holy tank that encircles the Hari Mandir, or the Darbar Sahib, now known as the Golden Temple.
The Golden Temple is an eclectic monument evident of the evolution of Sikhism Faith. Whosoever visits the shrine praises the art and architecture of the golden temple, which is widely regarded as the most tastefully, decorated shrines anywhere. As one descends into the temple (unlike most temples, here one actually descends as the structure is built below the level of the surrounding area), one is confronted by the stunningly beautiful sanctum sanctorum glimmering in the water of the holy tank that is flanked on all four sides by spotless and clean marble walkways and pavements.
While the Golden Temple stands for the spiritual guidance, the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activities. The significance of both the structures gets clarified when you visit the shrine during the day and night. During the day, the Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the temple and at night at the Akal Takht. Traditionally all Sikh warriors used to receive blessings here before going for a war.
As it has done for several centuries, the temple mirrors many images that are dear to the devout. At the entrance itself you view the beautiful golden dome shimmering in the water. One sees thousands of devotees praying and kneeling before the holy book. You can also join the holy langar hall to partake the common meal served lovingly to all. One can also participate and listen the continuous kirtan (devotional) recitation that has provided solace to so many.
History of Amritsar
Want to know how and when did the city of Amritsar originated? Here is a brief historical track record of Amritsar. Legends say that before Sikhism originated and the city was renamed as Amritsar from Ramdaspur; Luv and Kush, the twin sons of Lord Ram, got education and were taught the Ramayana by the learned sage Valmiki in Amritsar.
Today Amritsar is a religious hub of the Sikhs. A major part of the city's history revolves around the Golden Temple and Jalianwala Bagh. It is believed that Guru Ram Das was supposed to have selected the villages of Tung, Gumtala and Sutanwind to lay the foundation of a new village, which would be a centre for the congregation of Sikhs - thus Amritsar came into origin.
Tourist Places in Amritsar
There are a number of tourist places in and around Amritsar. Most of the places are of religious and historical importance. Other than the Golden Temple, you can visit several other Gurdwaras that trace their links with the Gurus. Gurdwara Baba Atal Sahib and the Shahidi martyr's shrine are important religious centers, which tell their own history. The Amritsar tour has a religious hue as it accommodates both temples and Gurudwaras for the Hindu and Sikh disciples.
The Jallianwala Bagh is a memorial of the martyrs of the 1919 massacre by the British General Dyer. Today, here one finds a small gallery with photos of key personalities involved in the 1919 freedom struggle, the well into which the crowds jumped to escape the murderous hail of bullets and a simple memorial at the site that shaped India's destiny.
The Durgiana Mandir is a beautiful temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. The Baba Atal Rai Tower, close to the main town, is believed to be the spot where Guru Har Gobind died. Wagah (28 km) is on the Indo-Pakistan border where tourists throng to see the change of guards ceremony by the border security forces of both the countries.
Cuisine in Amritsar
Tour of Amritsar surfaces an interesting fact about the unique Langar system organized by the Sikh temples. A langar (community kitchen) is a place where volunteers prepare free meals for thousands of people everyday; open for everybody. Here you can observe the direct practice of Seva (service), which is a part of the philosophy of Sikhism. The idea behind organizing Langar is sharing equally as desired by the Sikh Gurus. The tradition of langar is intrinsic to the Sikh faith and symbolizes oneness of the humanity.
Through the tradition of Langar you can experience the magnanimity of Sikh faith and its belief in equality, hard work and community service. Amritsar is also the head in the production of milk and dairy products found here at cheap rates and in abundance. You can relish the delicious lassi (buttermilk) served in town, especially at Gyan's is the best found anywhere. Served chilled in long steel Punjabi glasses, it is available in both sweet and sour taste, topped with a clump of thick cream.
The legendary 'Amritsari Fish' continues to be a big favourite amongst the tourists. Just try out the crumb fried river fish seasoned with fresh limejuice. One can even go for the rabri (dessert of thickened milk) that is simply delicious!
Shopping in Amritsar
Shopping options mostly revolve around handicrafts and rugs with prices being competitive, where you require to do a little bargaining. You can also stock the Woolen blankets and sweaters for winters as they are much cheaper in Amritsar than in other parts of India. Katra Jaimal Singh in the old city is a good shopping area for having a large amount of purchase from clothing to handicrafts. The bustling bazaars in the city are stocked brimful with papadums, vadis, and other spices, and the ampapad (mango slices salted and dried) are something to be carried along with you the way back home.
Excursion Tours in Amritsar
Regardless of your religion, you can enjoy the excursion tours in Amritsar. You relax in your holidays and relish the historical and religious legacy of Amritsar as well. The Amritsar city is surrounded by the religious places especially Gurudwaras for the Sikhs, which are hardly an hour's drive from Amritsar. Several historical Gurdwaras like Baba Bakala, Goindwal Sahib, Tarn Taran, and Baba Sahib, attract the devout. You can breathe in the air of Pakistan too from Amritsar as the Wagah checkpost on the Indo-Pakistan border is very nearby. The crowds throng to see the change of guards ceremony and the flag hoisting and lowering, all done with great skill and precision.
How to Reach Amritsar
Amritsar offers you an easy assess to the nearby places in the country. The Rajasansi airport at Amritsar is well linked by flights from all over India. Recently, it has been declared as an international airport. There are direct links from Delhi to Amritsar through railways. Buses also ply regularly between the two cities.