Hailed as the “Home of all Virtues” (Sifti Da Ghar), Amritsar has a dazzling showcase of composite culture and secular heritage. With a proud past, a glorious present and a promising future, the city are rightly called the “Mukut-Mani” (The Jewel of Crown) of Punjab. A focal point of Sikh faith, a pivot of Punjab politics, a nursery of defense pool and an alert sentinel at the Indo-Pak border, it is a city that is like a diamond with many facets. The true spirit of the city is found not only in its art & architecture, fairs & festivals, folk dances & stimulating music, traditional markets & lip-smacking cuisine but is also vibrantly visible in its gurudwaras & temples, tiraths & mosques.
Apart from being the major commercial, cultural and transportation center, Amritsar is also the center for Sikhism with the Golden Temple being one of the most visited gurudwaras. The city has been given a status of a Heritage City under the HRIDAY scheme – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana with an aim to preserve and revitalize the city’s unique character by encouraging aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative & secured environment for its people and travelers across the globe. The initiatives include façade makeovers, facelift of markets and roundabouts, infrastructure development has been done in 2016. Under this scheme, various tourist spots have been made active like Heritage Street from Town Hall to Golden Temple, Partition Museum, Jallianwala Bagh, Sadda Pind, Gobindgarh Fort, Jang-e-Azadi Memorial near Kartarpur and the Wagah Border. The places are recognized well by global travelers and have become one of the attractions for World Tourism. So much so, that it has given a boost to the tourism industry by becoming the fastest growing State in the tourism sector with a 35% growth in tourist footfall in the last five years.
But as we said earlier, there are many facets to Amritsar, so we as the tour planners still feel that certain places are yet to be explored by world travelers in the Holy City. So, here we are trying to explore those places through their rich culture, historical importance, and avid attractions. Let’s take a walk through such 5 places in the City of Nectar – Amritsar.
An important historical monument of Valmikis located at Lopoke road is a temple panorama complex that dates back to the period of Ramayana. The place is famous for the ashram of sage Maharishi Valmiki who gave shelter to Devi Sita, wife of Lord Ramachandra when she was abandoned by the later after the Lanka Victory. It is a place where Devi Sita gave birth to Luv and Kusha, the sons of Lord Rama (Lord Ramachandra). The great epic Ramayana is also said to have been written here by Maharishi Valmiki. It is also believed that the fight between Lord Ram Chandra’s forces and Luv-Kusha had also taken place at Ram Tirth.
Designed and developed by the Department of Architecture of Guru Nanak Dev University, the project is managed and maintained by Valmiki Tirath Development Board. The historic site was renovated with approx. Rs. 200 crore (US$29 million) and has entrance portals at both ends, a sacred pond, circumambulation with a bridge, a devotee hall with a capacity of 5000 members, a Sanskrit library, a museum and a multi-story modern car parking with a capacity of 500 four-wheeler vehicles. Inaugurated on December 01, 2016 by the Chief Minister of Punjab, the monument is open for world Tourists, so that the same would be reached out, acknowledged and appreciated globally.
Yes, You read it Right.! Punjab has its own Taj Mahal in the form of Pul Kanjari, now named as Pul Moran that narrates an eternal Love story of a Royal – Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and a commoner – Moran, a Muslim nautch dancer. The legend has it that Maharaja Ranjit Singh used to travel often between Amritsar and Lahore when his empire was at its zenith. The place was often used as a rest-and recreation spot by the King which is 40 km from Amritsar and is near to Indo-Pak Border, popularly called Wagah Border. A concubine was called especially for his entertainment. Moran was a young Muslim dancer living in a nearby village. She was Maharaja’s favorite. On one of her visits, she lost one of her shoes which was made of silver and was gifted by Maharaja, in the flowing canal. She refused to perform that night until her shoe was retrieved. This is when the ‘Pul’ was constructed to avoid such an incident to happen again. Since the construction was done primarily to give a travel comfort to Moran, it was named Pul Kanjari, – Kanjari being synonymous with the dancers of ancient times. Later on, Historians argued that the name ‘Pul Kanjari’ is derogatory as Moran was not a concubine and was later married to the king, which technically made her the queen. So the name was changed to “Pul Moran”.
It is also believed that Emperor Shahjahan has a close connection with this Pul. The canal over which the bridge was made, was dug in the behest of Shahjahan in the early seventeenth century with a prime purpose of bringing the water of river Ravi from Amritsar to Lahore for irrigation of Shahjahan’s favorite Shalimar gardens. Even the Lahori bricks which were used to fabricate the bridge were also used to erect Lahore Fort and the Taj Mahal in the Mughal era. Besides being a trade route between Amritsar and Lahore, the bridge became a symbol of the love and unity of the Maharaja and his Queen Moran. Though by marrying Moran, besotted King wants to set a social precedent for communal and social harmony, he was summoned by Akal Takht and was awarded a punishment of public flogging which he gladly accepted. But later, this punishment was reduced to a fine.
Apart from the bridge, the Maharaja also made one Sarovar-(historic tank) to store water, one Gurudwara, One Mosque, one temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, that depicts our rich culture in the form of frescoes covering the inner walls of the temple and various art and architecture. Through its war memorial, the place sets an example of not only self-love but the love for country – a feel for patriotism by the soldiers who had to lay down their lives for the people of their country. In our Wagah Border tour, we take our guests to all these historical sites to give them some glimpses of the past.
Built-in the year 1876 by Muhammad Khairuddin, the mosque holds great historic significance in India’s freedom struggle. It was from this mosque that Tootie-e-Hind, Shah Attaullah Bukhari, called upon the people for the first time to wage war against the British rulers.
Situated near Gandhi Gate in the Hall Bazar of Amritsar, also a part of our Heritage Bicycle tour, the mosque bears the characteristic of unparalleled architectural elegance. Being one of the most revered religious centers in Amritsar for Muslims, it is also believed and remarked as a center of courage and patriotism with the love of one’s own country. During the time of Namaaz, the large courtyard of this mosque is crowded with hundreds of men who want to pray to Allah. The strategic position of this imposing mosque makes it a recommended tourist spot.
Situated deep inside the city, in Katra Mohar Singh near the Chowrasti Atari, the courtyard of the Thakurdwara is like stepping back in time, shedding light on the beautiful colonial-style architecture that has influenced much of downtown Amritsar. It is believed that there was a rich businessman, named Dariana Mal who had a Krishna Temple in his home. But out of his curiosity, he wanted to build one such temple for local people as well. So he constructed Thakurdwara. These are basically the Vishnu temples which strictly follows the Vaishnava traditions. The presiding deity in these temples is Laddoo Gopal – the Baby Avtar of Lord Krishna.
The frescoes represent intricate floral patterns, ornamentation and various incidents from Hindu mythology, particularly from the life of Lord Rama. The Thakurdwara is dedicated to Lord Krishna and contains two shrines. Upstairs, the intricate designs and striking artwork adds to the lure of the structure. This destination is also a part of our Heritage Walking Tour
Named after Amanat Khan Sirazi, one of the greatest calligraphers of his time, the Sarai Amanat Khan is a rest house which is 29 km south-west of Amritsar, Tarn Taran-Attari road. A Scrivener, who designed the calligraphy on the mausoleum in Agra, later known as the ‘Taj Mahal’, built his own monument in the revered memory of his beloved brother Afzal Khan. It is believed that heartbroken by the sudden death of his brother, Amanat Khan spent all the money he had received as a reward for his services to the Mughal court and for his calligraphy on the Taj Mahal, on building his own monument of love.
Being one of the 35 caravan sarais on the Lahore-Agra section of the old Grand Trunk Road its arresting calligraphy distinguishes it from other sarais across India. The Sarai has two large gateways – Delhi Gate and Lahori Gate – where you can see these designs that contain Koranic verses. Today, only Delhi Gate is accessible, and on either side of the gate are two identical octagon-faced minarets that support the structure.
The Sarai consists of a big courtyard, a long passage that runs through the middle of the complex, with rooms of different sizes on either side. Since animals were the only means of transportation in those times, the Sarai has stables for horses, camels, and elephants that still line the walls inside both the gateways. To the center-left of the complex, is the mausoleum of Amanat Khan. It is in the center of the courtyard with steps on all sides. On the top of the mausoleum are three circular domes and three doors that lead inside. Each door is decorated with calligraphy and floral designs. Inside the mausoleum, there are inscriptions on the main wall that portrays the art of the land.
So in order to explore a place beyond its obvious tourist attractions, the above mentioned are the best to visit that echoes the art & architecture, love & patriotism with some of the finest intrinsic qualities.