Welcome to Amritsar, a city steeped in history and culture, located in the Majha region of the Indian state of Punjab. With a population of almost 2 million, Amritsar is the second-largest city in Punjab and the most populous metropolitan region in the state. It is a major economic, transportation, and cultural center, and home to the Golden Temple, one of Sikhism’s most spiritually significant and most-visited gurudwaras.
The city of Amritsar has a rich mythology, with the Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal believed to be the Ashram site of Maharishi Valmiki, the writer of Ramayana. According to the Ramayana, Sita gave birth to Lava and Kusha, sons of lord Rama at Ramtirath ashram. Nearby cities to Amritsar, Lahore, and Kasur were believed to be founded by Lava and Kusha, respectively. It is believed that during Ashvamedha Yajna by Lord Rama, Lava and Kush caught the ritual horse and tied Lord Hanuman to a tree near today’s Durgiana Temple.
The city was founded by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh guru, who purchased the land with Sikh donations for 700 rupees. The site was chosen and called Guru Da Chakk by Guru Amar Das, and after Guru Ram Das was coronated in 1574, he built the town named Ramdaspur with a man-made pool as its central point. The town grew to become the city of Amritsar, and the pool area grew into a temple complex after his son built the gurdwara Harmandir Sahib, and installed the scripture of Sikhism inside the new temple in 1604.
Amritsar is famous for its textiles, especially pashmina shawls, woolen clothes, and blankets. It is also known for its wooden chessboards and chess pieces manufacturing industry. The craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru in Amritsar district got enlisted on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014, and the effort to revive this craft under the umbrella of Project Virasat is among India’s biggest government-sponsored craft revival programs.
Tourism and hospitality have recently become the backbone of the local economy due to heavy tourist arrivals. Hundreds of small and large hotels have sprung up to cater to the increased tourist inflow. Restaurants, taxi operators, and local shopkeepers have all benefited from the tourist boom. Amritsar is a major tourist center with nearly a hundred thousand daily visitors. The city has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY scheme of the Government of India.
The city’s most famous attraction is the Golden Temple, also known as Harmandir Sahib, the holiest gurdwara and one of the most spiritual sites for Sikhs. The temple is located in the heart of the city and is surrounded by a sacred pool, which is believed to have healing properties. Visitors can take a dip in the pool and enjoy the serene and peaceful surroundings. The temple also serves free meals to thousands of visitors every day, regardless of their religion or social status.
Another popular attraction is the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, which commemorates the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that took place on 13 April 1919. British troops opened fire on a crowd of unarmed Indian protesters, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. The memorial includes a museum and a park and is a sobering reminder of India’s fight for independence.
Amritsar is also famous for its food, particularly Amritsari Kulcha, a type of bread made with refined flour, stuffed with spiced potato filling, and cooked in a clay oven. Other popular dishes include Chole Bhature, Tandoori Chicken, and Lassi, a sweet yogurt drink.
In conclusion, Amritsar is a city with a rich history and culture, and a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to India.