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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Amritsar?

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When it comes to discussing the history and culture of a place, a prominent destination like Amritsar will never disappoint you. The awe-inspiring history and its cultural consequences stare in your face as soon as you step into the city.

The city of Amritsar has been entitled as the jewel of Punjab. The
Golden Temple, one of the most important cultural and religious shrines of Sikhs across the world, interestingly attracts more visitors than even the Taj Mahal, and is the most popular destination in the whole of India for the Non-Resident Indians(NRIs).

Amritsar has a rich historical and cultural lineage flowing in its veins. The city was founded in the late 16th century by
Guru Ramdas Sahib, the fourth guru of the Sikhs. He only began work on the magnificent Golden Temple, surrounded by a beautiful tank, which was meant as a sacred place of pilgrimage for Sikhs. Guru Arjan Dev Sahib, the fifth guru, later went on to further develop and beautify the temple architecture, and also developed Amritsar on a larger scale.

During the Partition of India in 1947, Amritsar became a tragic witness to some of the worst communal riots.
Muslims of the city had to flee the place in masses to avoid getting brutally murdered, while Hindus and Sikhs from Lahore migrated to Amritsar. Amritsar served as a border city between India and Pakistan(the Wagah Border), often witnessing India-Pakistan wars. All these events immensely impacted the demographic and cultural profile of this city.

The city bore many patriots during the freedom struggle of India such as
Sohan Singh Josh, Baba Sher Singh, to name a few. The infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on April 13th, 1919 and left more than 300 innocent Indians dead. The fire of rage against the Britishers grew with time and finally this patriotic fervour had to culminate into the sad events of the Partition.

Amritsar's tryst with destiny did not however stop at that.
Operation Bluestar, a military operation ordered on the Golden Temple b y the then PM Indira Gandhi, invoked strong political reactions and left many dead.

The city is dominated by Sikhs and harbours a number of their sacred shrines. The unique residential units called
Katras act as a major defence mechanism for the residents. The chief economic activities for the population include tourism, fabrics, service trades and handicrafts. The people are simple and religious, and welcome the tourists warm-heartedly, thereby displaying their secular inclinations.

A visit to the city is a must for any Indian atleast once in his lifetime. Its iconic history and religious wonders are something one cannot afford to miss. Lose yourself in the glittering glory of Amritsar, and have the time of your life!


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