Amritsar: Land of Historic Value
Around 15th century, Guru Nanak began teaching a faith which was quite distinct from Hinduism and Islam. Based on his teachings and the nine gurus that succeeded him, Sikhism emerged as a monoaethist religion in the Punjab region of Indian Subcontinent. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus and making the scripture the eternal, religious spiritual guide for Sikhs. The Sikh scripture articulate the fundamental belief of Sikhism. Written in Gurumukhi script Guru Granth Sahib acknowledges the Vedas, Puranas and Quran but it does not imply a syncretic bridge between Hinduism and Islam. On the contrary the religion was emerged as a ray of hope for the people of India who were stuck in obscurity – who craved for a way out from the rigorous invasion and persecution by the Mughal rulers.
To name a few religious places which holds utmost importance for Sikhs are Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) in present day India and Kartarpur Sahib in present day Pakistan. The partition of Punjab at the time of independence was very disturbing for millions of people. The Radcliff line drawn by British Government didn’t consider what religious effect it will have on people in the foreseen future.
The Sikhs of India cannot visit the holy place of Guru Nanak’s demise which was later built into Kartarpur Sahib transpiring Darbar Sahib (The Golden Temple) as the preeminent pilgrimage site for Indian Sikhs.
A small village close to Amritsar named Wagah witnessed the bloodshed of the Partition. It became of supreme importance overnight as international border checkpoint between India and Pakistan was built there named Wagah Border.
A flag retreat ceremony happens in the open auditorium at sunset on all days. An aura of celebration can be sensed as the patriotic songs are played before the ceremony. The procession is marked with loud shouts of patriotism from both sides. Both nations have been performing this ceremony since 1959. The procession happens with clinical military precision and lasts for about 45 minutes.
One can see well-dressed Indian Border Security Force soldiers in khaki and Pakistani Sutlej Rangers dressed in black taking part in the ceremony.
As it appears the city has a long history of being at war. It all started with invasion from the west during Lodhi rule followed by oppression from Britishers, then massacre of millions at partition and so on. One of the infamous incident which marks the history is Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. It was a cowardly attack on the unarmed Indians as they gathered to protest peacefully. Thousands of people died on 13 April 1919 as the British Indian Army fired rifles. The preserved walls of Bagh is retaining a series of bullet holes.
These are few of the reasons which makes Amritsar a place of cultural and heritage value. Lanes filled with history and delectable cuisine makes the visit worthwhile.