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Destination of the Month

Amritsar

Sat Sri Akaal ji!! This is the universal greeting meted out the moment one enters here. Also, spiritual chants and kirtans are sung galore through out, which are indeed quite enchanting and enlightening and stirs the soul deep within. Undoubtedly, one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots for Sikhs where you have the Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple. The 'Guru KaLangar' offers free food to approximately two thousand people every day with numbers reaching up to a lakh on special occasions. A visitor to the Golden temple must cover his or her head all the time while in the temple premises.

The temple truly derives its name from its golden dome. The shrine is built over marble and is two stories high. It is the epicenter of Sikhism. The holy Granth Sahib is placed in the Temple during day time and at night it rests in the Akal Takht or Eternal Throne. The Akal Takht also showcases the ancient weapons used by the Sikh warriors against infiltrators and perpetrators in past. Founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das, Amritsar is home to Sikhism's holiest shrine, the spectacular Golden Temple, one of India's most serene and humbling sights.

Down the history lane the year 1919 has a great significance in Indian Freedom Movement. In this year the British under the command of ruthless General Dyer open fired at a gathering of people at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar who were holding a peaceful meeting in demand of freedom. This indiscriminate firing resulted in a macabre killing of hundreds of men, women and innocent children. Much too gory a sight, the bullet marks on the boundary walls have been preserved till date which bring alive the agonizing tale and cruelty of the British rule in India. The memorial well is also present here in which some people jumped to escape the firing. A complete story of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is recited in the Martyr's Gallery at the site.

Away from the melancholic environment of history and divinity of Sikhism, the streets of Amritsar offer the hustle and bustle of a true Punjabi culture. The city is divided in two by a tangle of railway lines. The old city, containing the Golden Temple and other historic sights and bound by 12 medieval gates, is southeast of the railway lines. This is a fascinating area to explore, with a capillary network of narrow bazaars that seem to float between the centuries. The north of the railway lines, defines a much 'modern' Amritsar that has grown up around a scattering of colonial-era boulevards. The modern day malls and upmarket hotels stand testament to the prosperity and economic development of the city. Sadly, today the over flowing and hectic traffic hardly makes this area a street to be loved. Local commuting between the old and the new streets is best suggested on cycle-rickshaws.

A visit to Ram Teerath cannot be missed if you are in Amritsar. Just about 12 Km from Amritsar Ram Teerath is a place which has an ancient tank and several temples within the vicinity. It is the place where Goddess Sita gave birth to her twin sons Luv and Kush. A four day fair takes place here, starting on the full moon night in November.

Other places of interest include the temple of Goddess Durga which has its structural design resembling the Golden Temple. This temple dates back to 16th century and the highlights include detailed carved paintings of the Goddess in her different incarnations as displayed in this shrine. The temple has a remarkable splendor and elegance of its own.

Ram-Bagh a beautiful garden was named by the ruler himself as a tribute to Guru Ram Das, the founder of the city. This garden is home to the famous summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was known as the Lion of Punjab. Today his famous palace is converted into a museum which speaks volumes on his quests and times. On display are weapons dating back to Mughal times, portraits of ruling houses of Punjab and a replica of diamond "Kohinoor".

Not to be missed is a visit to the Wagah border. Wagah is the sole road border joining India and Pakistan through Amritsar and Lahore cities respectively. The International border between India and Pakistan is located at a distance of 28 km from Amritsar. A ceremonial display of the Beating Retreat and Change of Guards every evening makes an extraordinary spectacle where soldiers from both countries demonstrate great enthusiasm and spirit as Nationalistic fervor rises amidst roaring applause on both sides. Enough to give goose bumps to all.

There are many more attractions in Amritsar which can be experienced by one and all who visit this holy sanctum of the Sikhs. These include the Faridkot Fort, Govind Garh Fort, Mata ka Mandir, etc.

Being well connected by road, rail and air, Amritsar is truly a destination to vouch for during weekends with your families. Also, a plethora of hotels are offered to suit everyone's pocket.

Come hither and take a sneak peek into the past….