Amritsar (218 meters / 715 feet), is situated in the state of Punjab in North India. Amritsar is located on the historical Grand Trunk Road ( G.T Road) or National Highway No.1, and is a border Part between India and Pakistan. Lahore (Pakistan) by road is 35 kms. from Amritsar. It is an important seat of Sikh history and culture and is famous for The Golden temple, also known as Harimandir Sahib. The city derives its name from Amrit Sarovar (the holy water tank) that surrounds the fabulous GoldenTemple and means “pool of ambrosial nectar”. This important Sikh shrine (Golden Temple) attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal in Agra .
Amritsar has a rich and vibrant culture and is famous for its excellent Punjabi cuisine and culture. Arts & Crafts of the area is highly acclaimed the world over. The artisans of the area are skilled and dexterous. The women of the villages are mainly involved in carrying out the Punjab Arts & Crafts. The Mud Works is an ancient practice in Punjab. The Metal Work is also very popular. The Basketry works are done by shaving the thin straws of grass. These straws are used to weave mats, rugs, carpets, curtains and hand fans. The needle work or the weaving and embroidery is very much famous from the area. The Juttis (sandals) made in the whole area are world famous. The motifs of The Juttis are embroidered with threads of silver and gold.
The main commercial activities include tourism, handicrafts, service trades, carpets, fabrics, farm produce including potatoes, chilies, oranges, mangoes, grapes, litchis lemons, sugarcane, maize, cotton , barley, millet, oil-seeds, carrots, peas, beans, onions, turnips, cucumbers, and melons.
The “Punjab Fairs” add to the vibrant and dynamic character of one of the most colorful places of India. The area has a rich culture and tradition which is expressed through the various “fairs” that provides the people a platform to enjoy and indulge in merry making. The colorful fairs of the area attract many tourists, as they can witness the vibrant culture of the area. It is also famous for its energetic dance “The Bhangra” performed solely by men and “The Gidda” performed by women.
The city is often viewed as the best place to start traveling in North India, especially overland route to Himalayas, as it is very close to the gateways of Himalayas- Dharamshala, Manali, and Shimla. Amritsar that greets visitors today is a bustling, busy city with a population of around 1.5 million people. The main language spoken in the area is Punjabi, Hindi and English. A popular outing is to the Wagah check post on the Indo-Pakistan border where crowds throng to see the change of guards ceremony and the flag hoisting and lowering, all done with great skill and precision.
Characterized by colorful dressing features, delicious cuisines, vibrant folklores and traditional handicrafts, Amritsar is glowing with its inherent reserve of human resource which is further enriched by the diligent and sociable nature of the people of Punjab. So come and visit Amritsar to taste the rich culture of North India, it is a city you should not miss..!
Amritsar is a city of great religious importance because it is the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh Religion. The GoldenTemple also known as Harmandir Sahib, is situated in a Sarovar (the holy water tank), and the walls of the and roof of the temple are glided with gold. This “Gurudwara”, as Sikh temples are called, is the most holiest and biggest of Sikh shrines all over the world. It is not just Sikhs who travel to the GoldenTemple to pay homage, the sacred shrine is equally revered by Hindus and people of other faiths who, too, make the pilgrimage to offers prayers at golden temple (Harmandir Sahib). Its architecture represents a unique harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus way of construction work and this is considered the best architectural specimens of the world.
Another major highlight of the Golden Temple complex is the Guru-ka-Langar, a Community meals served where around 35,000 people a day are fed for free by temple volunteers in the Dinning hall.. Everyone is invited to join this communal breaking of bread. All participants sit on the floor, regardless of caste, status, wealth or creed, powerfully symbolizing the central Sikh doctrine of the equality of all people.
Is one of the major tourist attractions in Amritsar. It is a beautiful garden. It was here, that the worst massacre in the entire history of Indian Freedom Movement took place in the year nineteen hundred and nineteen (1919). This place was a popular ground for holding meetings and protests during the freedom movement in India. The Jallianwala Bagh was bounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had few narrow entrances, most of which were kept permanently locked On 13 April 1919 a large crowd gathered to protest the arrest of two Indian freedom leaders. The crowd was unarmed and included women as well as children. The main entrance was relatively wider, but was guarded by the troops backed by the armoured vehicles. The British General, Edward Dyer ordered troops to open fire without warning or any order to disperse, and to direct fire towards the densest sections of the crowd. He continued the firing, approximately 1400 rounds in all, until ammunition was exhausted. Continuous firing went on targeting the crowd while the people were trapped inside the Jallianwala Bagh, which had only one narrow gate. Apart from the many deaths directly from the firing, a number of deaths were caused by stampedes at the narrow gates as also people who sought shelter from the firing by jumping into the solitary well inside the compound.
Today Jallianwala bagh is a vast garden spread over to an extent of 6.5 acres and the most conspicuous structure in the garden is the memorial of the 1919 massacre victims. The memorial also preserves the portion of the wall with pellet marks along with the well.
The bullet holes can be seen on the walls and adjoining buildings to this day. 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. Situated adjacent to the golden Temple, this garden is easily accessible and it is a must visit place in Amritsar.
A major tourist attraction these days is the Indo-Pakistan border crossing at Wagah, just a distance of 35 kms from Amritsar. A visit to the border is an interesting experience, especially at sun-set, when the retreat ceremony called ‘Lowering of the flags’ takes place with the Border Security Force (B.S.F.) on the Indian side and The Sutlej Rangers on the Pakistan side putting up a well co-ordinated and spectacular display of the strange ceremony for closing the gates at the border between Pakistan and India. The sound from the bugles (trumpets) blown together from both sides paints past on the canvas when India and Pakistan were one, simultaneously Flags of the two nations are ceremoniously retrieved and lights are switched on marking the end of the day amidst thunderous applause. it really is just spectacular entertainment for the crowds with grandstands having been built on both sides.
Shopping in Amritsar is a delightful experience for the avid shopper. The place has a fairly rich tradition of handicrafts and handlooms. The city is noted for exquisite handicrafts like phulkari (traditional embroidery), lacquered woodwork, jewelry etc. These are the items; you should look for while shopping in Amritsar. Also go for the Punjabi jutis (shoes), which are typical of this region. Hand-woven carpets, blankets, woolen garments and of course Patiala salwar (the traditional Indian garments with a Punjabi twist in design) are hit with those who want to do some shopping in Amritsar.
Jams, jellies and pickles of Punjab are quite famous and are available in Amritsar.
There are several shopping joints in the city. The old city bazaars are better places for shopping traditional Indian wears in Amritsar. Trendy shopping malls with swish interiors are quite common in the city. Alternatively, hang out at Cooper Road, Mochi Bazaar, Guru Bazaar and Shastri Market for some good shopping in Amritsar. Shopping is recommended only if it interests you.
Summer months between May and June are hot and dry in Amritsar, when day temperatures go beyond 40° C. Monsoons (July & August) bring some respite, while winters are cold. Amritsar can be visited throughout the year but, September to April is the best months to visit Amritsar.
The city is often viewed as the best place to start traveling in North India, especially to the Himalayas. Belonging to the state of Punjab, Amritsar boasts of a strategic location. Communication network to and from the city is quite convenient.
By Road: The city is well connected by road to major cities of north India Including Chandigarh (235 Kms), Delhi the national capital (450 kms), Shimla (320 kms) , Kullu(400 kms), Manali (450 kms), Dharamshala(200 kms) and Dalhousie(190 kms) in Himachal Pradesh, Rishikesh(450 kms) in Uttarakhand and Jammu(219 kms). There is also a bus service to Lahore, 35 km away (Delhi –Lahore bus) which is the only overland connection between India and Pakistan.
By Train: The city has a Railway Station, which is regularly serviced by important Express, Mail and Passenger Trains linking it to the different parts of the country. One can approach to Amritsar by rail from any part of India. The best train between Delhi and Amritsar is “Shatabdi Express Train.”. Amritsar is also connected to Lahore in Pakistan by Train.
By Air:Raja Sansi International Airport at Amrisar, is located about 11km from the city centre. The airport currently handles about 90 commercial flights a week, both international and domestic. The airport is well connected by other parts of the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Srinagar. Several airlines operate flights from abroad, including Singapore as well as London, Birmingham, Toronto and Dubai.