Amritsar


Amritsar

Infobox Indian Jurisdiction
type = city
locator_position = right
native_name = Amritsar
state_name = Punjab
skyline = Golden Temple India.jpg
skyline_caption = Nightview of the Harmandir Sahib(Golden Temple In English)
latd = 31.64
longd = 74.86
district = Amritsar
leader_title_1 = Mayor
leader_name_1 = Jagdev Maan
altitude = 218
population_as_of = 2007
population_total = 1,500,000
area_telephone = 91 183
postal_code = 143-0xx
vehicle_code_range = PB02

Amritsar ( _pa. ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ, meaning: "The Lake of the Holy Nectar", [ [http://www.target-tours.com/city-guide/amritsar.html Amritsar City Information,City Information of Amritsar,City Information Guide of Amritsar India ] ] ) is the administrative headquarters of the Amritsar District in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, and that of the entire district to number just over 3,695,077.

Amritsar is located in the northwestern part of India in the State of Punjab, convert|32|mi|km|0 east of Lahore, Pakistan. Some have taken the name Amritsar to derive from "Amŗit-saagar", meaning "The Ocean of the Nectar of Immortality".

It is home to the Harimandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, and is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. This important Sikh shrine attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal in Agra and is the number one destination for non-resident Indians (NRI) in the whole of India.Fact|date=July 2008 This city is known for the incidents of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919 under British Rule and Operation Bluestar in 1984 under the late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.

The main commercial activities include tourism, carpets and fabrics, farm produce, handicrafts, service trades and light engineering. The city is popular and known for its food and culture. Amritsar is also home to Pingalwara, the home for the destitute founded by Bhagat Puran Singh, and Central Khalsa Orphanage, which was once a home to Shaheed Udham Singh, a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement.

History

Amritsar city is one of the major cities of the Punjab state in India. Under instructions from Guru Amar Das, this city was founded by Guru Ram Das in 1574, on land bought by him for 700 rupees from the owners of the village of Tung. (Earlier Guru Ram Das had begun building "Santokhsar Sarovar", near the village of "Sultanwind" in 1564 {according to one source in 1570}. It could not be completed before 1588. In 1574, Guru Ram Das built his residence and moved to this place. At that time, it was known as "Guru Da Chakk". (Later, it came to be known as "Chakk Ram Das").

Guru Ram Das began excavation of the Amritsar Sarovar tank in 1577. It was ready by 1581. This tank was renovated by Guru Arjan Dev in 1586. Since then this city has been known as Amritsar (after the name of the sarovar). The first stone of the foundation of the Darbar Sahib is said to have been laid by "Sain Mian Mir Sahib", a Muslim saint from Punjab, at Guru Arjan's request. A story in Sikh lore tells of a mason who then corrected the stone's alignment and was chided by Guru Arjan for doing so, with the Saint stating that the re-alignment was symbolic of the complex being continually attacked and rebuilt. Many masons worked on laying the foundation on January 3, 1588.

Sant Mian Mir was very friendly with Guru Arjan Dev and tried to intercede with the Guru's subsequent torture and death at the hands of the Emperor Jahangir. He continued to be a friend of the next Guru, Guru Hargobind, and again worked on attaining his freedom when he was held for some time at Gwalior Fort. In 1590, Guru Arjan Dev moved to the village of "Wadali" where Guru Hargobind was born on June 19, 1590. By 1601, the Darbar Sahib was fully ready. In 1603-1604, the first volume of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures, was prepared in this city and was installed at Darbar Sahib on August 16, 1604.

It is here that the Akal Takht (The throne of immortality, lit. the never ending throne) the seat of Sikh political power was built by Guru Hargobind in 1609. Two flags representing temporal and spiritual authority and Sikh sovereignty were set up in front of the Akal Takht. Here Guru Hargobind wore two swords of Miri and Piri (temporal and transcendental authority).

On April 13, 1634, the Mughal army attacked Guru Hargobind here. From 1635 to 1698, Amritsar remained in the control of the Mina family (descendants of "Pirthi Chand"). During this period, on November 23, 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur visited the town. In April 1698, Bhai Mani Singh was appointed as the caretaker of the shrines of Amritsar.

The Mughal chief of Patti tried to occupy Amritsar several times. One such attempt was made in April 1709. The Sikhs, under the command of Bhai Mani Singh and "Bhai Tara Singh" of "Dhillwan", repelled this attack. When Baba Banda Singh Bahadur occupied several areas in the Punjab, Bhai Mani Singh chose to leave Amritsar in order to avoid the Mughal attacks. On December 30, 1711, the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, granted "Ajit Singh Palit" the charge of Amritsar in order to use him against Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. After the death of Bahadur Shah, Ajit Singh Palit returned to Delhi. In 1721, Bhai Mani Singh returned to Amritsar and re-started regular worship. His first act was to solve a dispute between the Tat Khalsa and the "Bandai Khalsa" factions for the right to the management of the shrines in Amritsar.

On March 29, 1733, a major gathering of Sikhs was held here in front of Akal Takht. During the same time a Sarbat Khalsa gathering was also held. It discussed the Mughal offer of Nawab-hood. In April 1734, Bhai Mani Singh was arrested and was executed in Lahore on June 24, 1734.

In 1740, "Massa Ranghar", an official, desecrated the Darbar Sahib. He was killed for this action by "Bhai Sukha Singh" and "Bhai Mahtab Singh", on August 11, 1740. In 1757 an Afghan army of Ahmed Shah Abdali demolished both the Darbar Sahib and the Akal Takht. Baba Deep Singh led several thousand Sikhs against the Afghans. A major battle was fought on November 11, 1757. Baba Deep Singh and several thousand Sikhs were killed. Again, in 1762, the Darbar Sahib complex was again demolished by an Afghan army. On December 1, 1764, the Afghan army made another attack. 30 Sikhs, led by "Jathedar Gurbakhsh Singh", fought against the mammoth Afghan army and were killed. In 1765, the Sikhs began re-construction of the shrines. The central part was ready by 1776.

During the eighteenth century, Amritsar, like the Sikh community as a whole, witnessed many vicissitudes of history. It suffered repeatedly desecration and destruction until it was finally liberated upon the establishment of sovereign authority of the Sikh misls, principalities, over the Punjab in 1765. The town was thereafter under the control of several misl chiefs although its surrounding district was held by Sardār Harī Siṅgh of the Bhāṅgī misl. Different sardārs or chiefs constructed their own buṅgās or residential houses around the principal sarovar and also their respective kaṭṛās or wards encouraging traders and craftsmen to reside in them and over which each exercised exclusive control. The sacred shrines were however administered by a joint council comprising representatives of the chiefs who had made endowments in land for their maintenance. Even prior to the time of Sikh ascendancy, joint councils, known as Sarbat Khalsa (lit. the entire Sikh Panth), to take crucial decisions on political matters had been held at Amritsar. Now again with all misl chiefs having their buṅgās there, it became the common capital of the Khālsā. Devotees from far and near, free to visit the holy city after six decades of the severest persecution, flocked to "Gurū kī Nagarī" (the Gurū's town). So did businessmen and tradesmen to take advantage of the increasing pilgrim and resident population. Trade, commerce and crafts flourished in different kaṭṛās each having its own markets and manufacturings. By the end of the eighteenth century, Amritsar had already become Punjab's major trading center. Yet the town with its multiple command setup remained a confederated rather than a composite habitation until Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh (1780-1839) rose to power and consolidated the whole of the Punjab into one sovereign State.

Ranjīt Singh, chief of the Sukarchakīā misl, who first occupied, in 1799, Lahore, the traditional capital of the Punjab, and declared himself Mahārājā in 1801, extended his hegemony to Amritsar in 1805 when he took over from his traditional rivals, the "Bhāngī" chiefs, their fort with its mint striking the "Nānakshāhī rupee, and the famous "Zamzamā gun. The fort of the "Rāmgarhīā" misl was occupied in 1815 and with the possessions of "Rānī Sadā Kaur" of "Kanhaiyā" misl and Fateh Singh Āhlūwālīā in Amritsar during the early 1820s, Ranjīt Singh's occupation of Amritsar was complete. He then constructed a double wall and a moat around the city with twelve gates and their corresponding bridges over the moat. Already in 1809 he had constructed the Gobindgarh Fort outside "Lahaurī Gate" complete with a formidable moat, three lines of defense and several bastions and emplacements for heavy guns. Amritsar thus had already become his second capital. The royal "Toshākhānā" or treasury was kept in Gobindgarh Fort which was also used as the royal residence during the Mahārājā's frequent visits to the city before his palace in the city, "Rām Bāgh", was completed in 1831. Several members of the nobility also raised palatial houses and beautiful gardens in and around the city. Ranjīt Singh devoutly provided liberal funds to have the dome and exterior of the Darbar Sahib gold plated and to have the interior ornamented with fine filigree and enamel work and with decorative murals and panels in marble inlaid with colored stone. Sardār Desā Singh Majīthīā (died 1832), who had been appointed manager of the holy shrines in the city since its occupation by Ranjīt Singh, donated gold for gilding the top of "Bābā Attal". Around 1830, Ranjit Singh had Muslim goldsmiths to gold-plate some parts of the inner section of the Darbar Sahib. The Gold plating led to it being called the Golden Temple.

In 1846, the British established themselves in the "Lahore Darbar", with a resident in the Court; and, Amritsar became a place of frequent visits by the British. In order to keep the sanctity of the city, "H. M. Lawrence", the British resident, issued an order, dated March 24, 1847, asking the English people to follow Sikh protocol while visiting Sikh places of worship. In 1858, a municipal committee was set up here. In 1862, train services between Lahore and Amritsar were started. Khalsa College, the first Sikh college was established here in 1892. [In 1969 Guru Nanak Dev University was established here] . In 1913, the city was electrified. In September 1915, the British declared Amritsar a holy City. (This order was later annulled after Indian independence in August 15, 1947 by the Indian government). On April 13, 1919, General Reginald Dyer opened fire on the gathering, at Jallianwala Bagh, near Darbar Sahib, killed 379 people and wounded another 1200. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.G.P.C.) and the Shiromani Akali Dal were established here in 1920.

In addition to the damage done by the Afghan armies the Akal Takht was damaged by the Indian government forces in June 1984 during Operation Blue Star launched to deal with a Sikh secessionist movement which had fortified the Holy site with automatic weapons and rocket launchers. The Group was headed by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale head of the Damdami Taksal, a mobile college begun by Guru Gobind Singh. The Indian government repaired it in September 1984. The Sikhs promptly removed the work done by the Indian Government and re-did the repairs themselves. They began demolishing the repairs on January 26, 1986. The present structure was repaired by five service-groups headed by Baba Thakar Singh of Bhindranmehta Jatha.

The city is dominated by the history of the Sikhs and many of their sacred shrines are found in and around the city. It was established by Guru Ramdas. The city has highest temporal seat of Sikhs "The Harimandir Sahib" popularly known as Golden Temple. The city has central old city called walled city. It has narrow zig zag streets mostly developed in the 17th and 18th century. The city has a peculiar example of introvert planning system and has uniques areas called Katras. The Katras are self styled residential units that provided unique defence system during attacks on the city.

The city lies on the main Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) from Delhi to Amritsar connecting to Lahore in Pakistan. The G. T. Road, built by Sher Shah Suri, runs through the whole of the northern half of the Indian subcontinent, connecting Peshawar, Pakistan to Sonargaon, Bangladesh. The city is also connected to most other major cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta by an extensive network of rail system. The city also provides air connectivity to major Indian cities, as well as international cities such as Birmingham, Toronto, Dubai, Singapore, Tashkent, Ashgabat, London etc from the Raja Sansi International Airport. The airport is being developed for increasing demand in future; a new International inbound & outbound terminal is operational and cargo terminal is also under construction.

The city is the administrative center for the Amritsar District. Amritsar developed from a small village pool to a business center. However, it did not become the industrial center of Punjab due to its proximity to the volatile Indo-Pak border.

Modern Amritsar

Modern Amritsar is currently seeing rapid urban growth. To facilitate the development process, the Government of India and Government of Punjab have released a Rs.3,150 Crore (roughly 769 million USD) plan to develop Amritsar. Fact|date=October 2007. The planned budget would fund construction of roads, sewage management, water, and a mass "Rapid Transport" transit system. Amritsar is witnessing a spurt in high-end residential property and multiplex development, courtesy the government’s decision to set up a special economic zone there, and the growing interest of real estate developers.

Leading developers from Delhi as well as local ones have lined up a series of townships comprising of villas, luxury apartments, service apartments and penthouses. About a dozen malls are also in various phases of completion. A new city Convention Centre has been planned{as of October 2007}, as are four 5 star hotels - the Radisson Hotel Amritsar is to open by October 2008 The Taj and Holiday Inn Group, Marriott Hotels are also completing projects.

To protect Amritsar's historical and religious heritage, part of the new budget is dedicated to the preservation of religious shrines in the cityFact|date=October 2007.

Geography and Climate

climate chart
Amritsar
4|16|24
8|20|33
12|24|48
19|33|30
23|37|45
26|36|27
26|33|231
25|32|187
22|32|79
17|29|18
10|24|6
5|18|18
source= [http://www.wunderground.com/NORMS/DisplayIntlNORMS.asp?CityCode=42071&Units=both Weather Underground]
float=right
Amritsar is located at coord|31.63|N|74.87|E|. [ [http://www.fallingrain.com/world/IN/23/Amritsar.html Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Amritsar] ] It has an average elevation of 234 metres (768 ft).

Amritsar has a continental climate, typical of northwestern India. The winter season (November to March) when temperatures ranges from 18 °C to about 4 °C, the hot season (April to June) when temperatures can reach 49.5 °C, monsoon season (July to September) and post-monsoon (September to November). Annual rainfall is about 790 mm. The best time to visit Amritsar is between October and March.

Demographics

As of 2007, 85% of the population in Amritsar are Sikh. The total population of Amritsar is 1,547,695. Males constitute 55% of the population and females 45%. Amritsar has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. 15% of the population is under 6 years of age. The main spoken language in Amritsar and in the surrounding villages is the Punjabi dialect of Maajhi, considered to be "Standard Punjabi".. Other languages spoken in the city are English and Hindi. Before partition there was a large population of Muslims. Amritsar was one of the most effected city with violence during the partition of India and Pakistan. Amritsar is the strong hold for the Sikhs.

District Administration

* The Deputy Commissioner, an officer belonging to the Indian Administrative Service, is the official in charge of general administration in the district. He is assisted by a number of officers belonging to the Punjab Civil Service and other Punjab state services.

* The Senior Superintendent of Police, an officer belonging to the Indian Police Service, is responsible for maintaining law and order in the district. He is assisted by the officers of the Punjab Police Service and other Punjab Police officials.

* The Divisional Forest Officer, an officer belonging to the Indian Forest Service, is responsible for the management of the forests, environment and wildlife in the district. He is assisted by the officers of the Punjab Forest Service and other Punjab Forest officials and Punjab Wild-Life officials.

* Sectoral development is looked after by the district head/officer of each development department such as PWD, Health, Education, Agriculture, Animal husbandry, etc. These officers are from various Punjab state services.

* The Amritsar city has a local government (municipal corporation) responsible for the management of local and public health systems of the city. The municipal corporation is a democratic body of councilors. At present there are more than 70 councilors. They elect their mayor.

* The District Town Planner - The state government's department of Town and Country Planning has a district level office of District Town Planning. Since the formation of this office, however, the city has not received a comprehensive development planFact|date=February 2007. The government of India has selected Amritsar to invest 1000 crores rupees for development.

Transport

Amritsar has international airport which has 150+ flights weekly, and which are increasing day by day. Amritsar is connected by bus with Ambala, Chandigarh, Delhi, Ferozepur, Jammu etc. Some of the road distances are as follows:- Jammu 216 km, Ferozepur 120 km, Chandigarh 235 km, Delhi 445 km and Wagah 29 km. Rickshaws, autorickshaws and buses are an easy way of getting around Amritsar.

The city is on the G.T. Road (Grand Trunk Road, NH1), and so is well connected to the road network. A sum of Rs 450 crore, is being spent to make the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of G.T. Road four-laned. In 2006, Punjab Govt had finalised the construction of the elevated road to provide smooth access to devotees coming from the Jalandhar-Amritsar road and Amritsar airport. The four-laned elevated road is being constructed from Maqboolpura Chowk to Bhandari Bridge with two entry points and one exit. [ [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060401/punjab1.htm Tribune India] ] .

Amritsar is connected by rail with Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Varanasi, Wagah (Attari Border) and other major Indian cities. The main railway station in Amritsar is the, Amritsar Railway Station.

The city's international airport, Raja Sansi International Airport, is growing in size rapidly handling around 150 flights a week. By July 2008, it will be doubled in size, 4 jetways, with a new parking area and much moreFact|date=October 2007.

About Rs. 2,100 Crore is being left aside for the Mass Rapid Transport system for the cityFact|date=October 2007. It is hoped that this will help relieve city traffic, save money and help the environment.

Indian Railways has also proposed a high speed rail line to serve Delhi-Amritsar via Chandigarh and Ambala. The train is to run at an amazing 350 km/h, a first of its kind in India. It will get travelers between the cities in 2.5 hours. Countries such as Japan, China, UK, Canada and others have expressed a lot of interest in the project.The company to build the line will be awarded the contract at the end of May, 2008. Other lines of this kind will run in Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Pune, and Kolkata. [ [http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Fancy_reaching_Chandigarh_from_Delhi_in_50_mins_flat/articleshow/2925479.cms Rail ride to Chandigarh from Delhi in 50 mins flat?- Shipping / Transport-Transportation-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times ] ] [ [http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Railways_invites_global_bids_for_Delhi-Amritsar_high_speed_route/articleshow/2890633.cms Railways invites global bids for Delhi-Amritsar high speed route- Railways-Transportation-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times ] ] [ [http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News_by_Industry/Speed_machines_13_states_want_Bullet_Train/articleshow/2929820.cms Speed machines: 13 states want Bullet Train- The Sunday ET-Features-The Economic Times ] ]

Education

Amritsar is a major educational center. World renowned educational institutions like Guru Nanak Dev University (established 1969),Hindu College(estd 1928)-alma mater of Dr Manmohan Singh, "Govt Polytechnic, Amritsar" (established 1964), BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar(established 1967), Khalsa College, Amritsar (established 1892), DAV College Amritsar (established 1955), "S.R. Government College for Women" (established 1932), Government Medical College, Amritsar (established 1926) "Government Dental College & Hospital, Amritsar" (established 1952) are in Amritsar, and are among India's best universities and colleges. A proposed civil aviation college is also in planning stages. If built, it would the first in IndiaFact|date=October 2007. and 2 new engineering colleges in the Ouskirts(Amritsar college of Engineering, Maanawaala and Kuma singh engineering college,Nr. Attari).

Among schools, Alexandra School situated at Queens Road (estd 1869) is one of the oldest in North India.Among its alumni was India's late Field Marshall SAM Manekshaw(1914-2008).Another yet older school in Town Hall was recently razed amidst much controversy to pave way for a parking lot.D.A.V Public School ,lawrence road is one of the best in Punjab while Spring Dales School does well to round off the list.

Religious Shrines

The following is a list of the prominent Sikh Gurudwaras and sacred places in the city and its vicinity:

Dhan Dhan Khalsa
*Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)
* Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Devan Asthan
* Gurudwara Shaheed Ganj Sahib Ji (Dhan Dhan Baba Deep Singh Ji)
* Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib
* Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh, built at the site of the martyrdom of Baba Deep Singh
* Gurdwara Bebaaksar Sahib
* Birth Place of Guru Hargobind Sahib
* Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran (twenty five km south of Amritsar)
* Gurdwara Baba Budha
* Guru da Bagh, Kokawali
* Gurdwara Bowli Sahib, Goindwal Sahib
* Gurdwara Bir Baba Budha, Thattah-Chabhal
* Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Khadur Sahib
* Chheharta Sahib, Guru Hargobind Ji
* Baba Bakala, where Bhai Makhan Shah proclaimed that he had found the ninth Sikh Guru in Guru Teg Bahadur
* Birth Place of Baba Budha Ji, Kathunangal
*Saragarhi Gurudwara
* Tala Sahib Gurudwara
* Gurudwara Bhai Manjh Sahib Ji
* Gurudwara Pau Wind Sahib Ji (Dhan Dhan Baba Deep Singh ji)

References

External links

* [http://amritsar.nic.in/ Official Website of District of Amritsar]
* [http://www.amritsarcorp.com/ Official Website of City of Amritsar]
* [http://www.traveltoamritsar.com/ Travel To Amritsar]
* [http://www.hotelsinamritsar.com/ Hotels in Amritsar]
* [http://www.hotelindus.com/ Hotel Indus]
* [http://www.thecircumference.org/experiences/get-spirited-away-in-amritsar-golden-temple Get Spirited Away in Amritsar's Golden Temple] Best of flickr, youtube video wall, references and more.

*
* [http://www.baudelet.net/voyage/inde/amritsar.htm Amritsar History and Pictures]
* [http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/42071.html Current time and weather in Amritsar]
* [http://www.amritsartravel.com/ Schedules for Flights to Amritsar from Birmingham and London, UK]
* [http://www.goldentemplephotos.com/ Golden Temple Photographs]



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