AMRITSAR AT A GLANCE


In the words of Guru Arjan Dev Ji : "Dithe sab thao nahi tudh jehia".


Area
About five Thousand sq. km
Population
About 2.5 million (District)
About 1 million (City)
Literacy
About Fifty percent
Languages
Punjabi, Hindi, English
Crops
Wheat, Rice, Cotton, Sugarcane
Climate
Summer 30 to 46 C
Winter 0 to 17 C
Monsoons
July to September
Airport
Guru Gobind Singh International Airport
(Raja Sansi Airport)

:: History Of Amritsar ::

AMRITSAR SIFTI DA GHAR

Amritsar means Amrit Sarovar [Tank of Nectar]

RAMDAS SAROVAR NAHATE SAB UTRE PAP KAMATE

Long ago, the present city of Amritsar was dense forest with a pool in it. Several villages fringed the forest. Many legendary and mythological references are attached to this land. It is said that Lord Rama had fought a battle with his sons, Luv and Kush at this place in which whole of Lord Rama's army was destroyed. At that time a jug of nectar descended from heaven to restore the soldiers to life.

Lord Budha is believed to have stopped here for a while and have said," This spot is best for Bhikshu (Buddhist monks) to attain their Nirvana (Salvation) and is far superior in that respect to other places so far visited, but it must have its time for its celebrity". The place acquired some prominence in the earlier days of Buddhism. But it did not last long and in the days of Guru Nanak Amritsar was again dense deserted forest owned by adjoining villages of Tung, Sultanwind, Gumtala and Gilwali.

During his travels, Guru Nanak Dev Ji happened to pass through this land. It is at this time he met Baba Bura Randhawa, while he was grazing his cattles. The young boy at the age of nine got illuminated by the flery touch of the spiritualism of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He talked in such a vein with the master that Guru Nanak Dev Ji told him, "You are not Bura but Budha." From this day he came to be known as Baba Budha. Guru Nanak Dev Ji bestowed upon him the privilege of atoning the Sikhs guru to come. After passing of Guru Nanak Baba Budha become so associated with this spot that he become the first head priest of the temple and he lived a ripe old age upto the times of sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind Ji.
It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev Ji referred to the coming up of an important temple and an important town at the site he blessed by his visit. The pool was enlarged and converted into regular tank by Guru Ram Das Ji (1574-1581), the fourth Master. He named it AMRIT-SAROVAR (The Pool of Nectar), the city that grew around the Tank also came to be known as Amritsar. Bhai Jetha, the future Guru Ram Das Ji (1574-1581), the fourth Master, was sent here by the third Master Guru Amar Das Ji(1552-74) to found a common center for commerce and worship. Guru Ram Das Ji laid the foundation of a village. It has grown largest city of the post partition Punjab. The village was formerly called Guru Ka Chak. It is popularly believed that the village was built on a site bought with 700 Akbri rupees. The excavation of Amrit-Sarovar was started by Guru Ram Das Ji in 1574. After the death of Guru Amar Das Ji, next year the work was abandoned. It was resumed two years later in 1576. The small village founded by Guru Ram Das Ji had by this time grown into a township. It come to be known as Chak Ram Das or Ramdaspur. The excavation of the tank was completed in 1589, during the pontificate of Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

                              Guru Arjan Dev Ji built the Hari Mandir in the center of the tank. The temple was known as Hari Mandir. The foundation of the tank was laid on January, 1589 (Magh 1, 1645) Samvat by the Muslim Saint Mian Mir, a friend and admirer of Guru Arjan Dev Ji and belonged to Lahore. The Mandir was completed in 1601 and the Adi Grantha was installed therein on August-September, 1604 (Bhadron 1, 1661 Samvat). Baba Budha Ji was appointed the first "Granthi", i.e. the reader of the Holy Scripture (Adi Grantha). The Hari Mandir has a chequered history and changed hands a number of times. The Sikhs were turned out of their temple and temple itself was destroyed and descrated again and again by the Mughal rulers. Again and again did the Sikhs recovered it and avenged the sacrilege at a tremendous sacrifice. There are many stories of bravery and heroism displayed by the sikhs for the recovery of the temple.

                             The Mughal Governor of Lahore drove the Sikhs out of the temple in the middle of the 18th Century. Troops were posted to keep them away from Amritsar and Hari Mandir. A Sikh could have a dip in the sacred water of the tank and drink it only at the risk of his life. A police post and a civil court were established in the temple in 1740. The Mughal Commandant Massa Ranghar used the holy Sanctorum as a dancing hall. The temple precincts were used as stables. Two valiant Sikhs Mehtab Singh and Sukha Singh came all the way from Bikaner to punish the Ranghar. Disguised as cultivators, they got into the temple precincts on the plea of paying the land revenue. While Mehtab Singh entered the temple, Sukha Singh stood guard outside. The former killed Massa Ranghar and escaped with his companion before the official guard had recovered from the shock. The murder of Massa Ranghar was followed by a severe persecution of the Sikhs and they were compelled to go into hiding. The temple was locked. Sentries were posted at the entrance with strict orders not to let any stranger in. The Sikhs, however took advantage of the confusion and anarchy which followed Nadir Shah's invasion of India (1739). Jassa Singh Kalal, one of the important Sikh leaders of the time, openly declared that the Dal Khalsa i.e. the Sikh Commonwealth would be the new rulers of the land. But Ahmad Shah Abdali's invasion of India (1747) ushered the new era of persecution for the Sikhs. Abdali was determined to wipe out the Sikhs out of the existence and to pull down the Golden Temple. The temple was occupied and desecrated in 1757 in the famous year of the Battle of Plassey, which made the English the de-factor Masters of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa. The Sikhs, however, united under two of their leaders both named Jassa Singh occupied Lahore and Amritsar in 1758.
                               On hearing about the desecration of the Golden Temple, a body of Sikhs under the leadership of Baba Deep Singh started at once to avenge the insult. A bloody encounter took place about eight miles away from Amritsar. Yet the avengers went on cutting their ways through the Muslim hordes. When about four miles away from the City, Baba Deep Singh was mortally wounded, he staggered and was about to fall, a comrade-in-arms reminded him of his vow to reach the sacred precincts, he at once recovered himself. With his left hand he gripped and supported his almost chopped off head and with right hand, he went on moving the enemies. Thus fighting, this unique warrior reached the holy precincts. His vow fulfilled, he let drop his head and went to the eternal abode martyrs. Near the spot stands the memorial later erected in memory of him and his great deed. It is called Gurdwara Shaheed Bunga Baba Deep Singh. The Abdali, however was not the man to let a challenge go unaccepted. He invaded India in 1762 and inflicted a deadly blow on the Sikhs in the battle of Kup Rahira in District Ludhiana. This even is still remembered as "Ghallughara". The victor raided Amritsar on his way back to Kabul. The Golden Temple was blown up with gunpowder by him and the holy tank was also desecrated. Countless Sikhs laid down their lives in the defence of their shrine.
                                After the final departure of Ahmed Shah Abdali from India in 1767, the Sikhs re-conquered the Punjab and re-occupied the Golden Temple, With the Sikhs misalas (Confederations) gaining power in the later part of the 18th century, Amritsar was rebuilt. The temple was constructed a new and holy tank redug. 'Parikarma' was built and soon Bungas, Katras, Bazars, Forts, Gardens, Tanks, Havelis came up all around as constituents of the now ever enlarging city of Amritsar. Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), the Lion of Punjab, who was able to merge all the Misals into one single unit under his sole control arranged development of Amritsar in a big way. He made Amritsar as the summer capital of his regime. Present Ram Bagh was laid down for the purposes of his residence and officers. The construction of the wall was begun in 1821 and was completed in about 20 year. The wall had 240 towers and 12 gates. Maharaja Ranjit Singh got the domes of the holy temple gold-plated and from thence the temple became famous as the "Golden Temple". The temple was managed in his days by a Council of the Sikhs of which the Maharaja was the head. The council functioned till the end of the Punjab as a sovereign State. Kooka movement and Akali movement also originated in Amritsar and even Indian National Congress gathered a lot of support from this place. The Golden Temple passed under the control of one man, the 'Sarbrah' (Manager), during the British period. The 'Sarbrah', a nominee of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar mismanaged the affairs of the temple. Immoralities were practiced within the Temple precincts. Practices, repugnant to the tenets of Sikhism were openly indulged in. The Sikhs resented the objectionable practices. The resentment grew and grew till at last it took shape in the Sikh Gurdwara Reform Movement of the early twenties of the past century. He Akali Dal became the spearhead of the struggle for the reform of the places of worship .The struggle was directed against the control of the Sikh shrines by the 'Mahants' and against foreign imperialism. The Dal made great sacrifices for the cause. The members of the Dal took vow of Swadeshi and non-violence. 'Satyagrah' was the weapon used by them. Nationalist India looked on the struggle with admiration.
                                The famous Sikh shrines at Amritsar include: Five Sarovars (sacred tanks): Amritsar (1586), Santokhsar (1587-88), Ramsar (1602-03), Kaulsar (1627), Bibeksar (1628); and, Gurdwaras: Baba Atal (1770), Shaheed Ganj Baba Dip Singh (1803, partly in 1823), Shaheed Ganj Baba Gurbakhsh Singh, Guru De Mahal (It was the residence of Guru Ram Das Sahib, Guru Arjan Sahib, Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was born here), Darshani Deodi (near Guru Bazaar, associated with the memory of Guru Arjan Sahib), Gurdwara Thara Sahib (on the bank of Amritsar Sarovar; associated with the memory of Guru Ram Das Sahib and Guru Arjan Sahib), Gurdwara Thara Sahib (in memory of the visit of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib), Damdama Sahib (in memory of the visit of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, in 1664), Pippali Sahib (It is associated with memory of Guru Arjan Sahib and Guru Hargobind Sahib), Gurdwara Tahli Sahib (Guru Ram Das Sahib used to rest under a Tahli, i.e. shisham tree. The Tahli tree, believed to be the same still exists), Churasti Atari (associated with memory of Guru Hargobind Sahib), Gurdwara Lohgarh Qila (Earlier it was a fort built by Guru Hargobind Sahib in 1609) etc. Besides, 68 Bungas were constructed in the town from time to time. (See: Bunga). The Central Sikh Museum and the Sikh Reference Library are also established here. The Indian Army burnt the Sikh archives, libraries and the records of the offices of the Akali Dal and the S.G.P.C. on June 6-7, 1984.
                                  It is Amritsar where the smoldering surge of Independence of our country burst into a full fledged "Flame of Liberty" in the form of Jallianwala Bagh massacre in which about two thousand people were killed. In December 1919 the All India Congress Committee held its session at Goal Bagh in Amritsar, in which most of the National Leaders participated. The Muslim League also held its session in Amritsar in 1919. Many buildings were constructed during the British rule. Town Hall was built in 1863-64, St. Paul Church (1864) Alexandra School was built in 1878 mainly for providing education to the girls of the British. Many other buildings which were added include Khalsa College (1890), VJ Hospital (1905) later rechristened as Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, GPO (1920), Andh Vidyalaya (1923), Durgiana Mandir(1924), Hindu College (1924), Indian Academy of Fine Arts (1928), Govt. College (1932), TB & Chest hospital (1938). The riots that accompanied the partition of the country affected Amritsar very badly. About 25% of the buildings within the walled city were burnt and destroyed. However, reconstruction was soon undertaken and many new buildings constructed. Various institutions which have come up after the independence of the country include Mental Hospital (1949), DAV College (1954), Punjab Dental College (1967), Guru Nanak Dev University (1959), Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Guru Nanak Auditorium, Dr. Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health (1998).

[Back to Top]

 What's New | Home | Feedback

Copyright 2001-2008 Agrikhalsa. All Rights Reserved.