WHAT IS SPECIAL WITH AMRITSAR
A city which is famous for two shoot outs situated close to each other at a throw-away distance. A city with such historical importance that happened decades apart. And that is what Amritsar is famous for. One is Jalian Wala Bagh, the name itself enough to remind the brutal killing of Indians mercilessly by the British Army prior to Independence. And the second one is Golden Temple where another commando operation was held out to eliminate some Sikh terrorists by the Indian Army post Independence.
If the visit to Jalian Wala Bagh boils your blood for the many lives lost there for a patriotic cause but on contrary, a visit to Golden Temple is nothing to do with any such feelings or thoughts instead you will be mesmerized by a truly divine world.
Apart from these two places, the prospect of visiting the Wagah border was made this a must-visit place while in Delhi. It is around 500km from Delhi. As usual, booking a ticket for this overnight journey didn’t been a big task through some mobile applications. And on a weekend morning, I found myself in the Amritsar bus stand even before the sun is about to start its journey from the horizon.
A FRESH START
The hotel booked for staying a night was not that far away and an hour of sleep in the comfort of the room was a luxury. It was a great relief from the tiresome boring bus journey and made the day a fresh start. A Punjabi breakfast was the first thing before ventured out to explore the Jalian Wala Bagh memorial. It is one of the most important places as far as the Freedom movement is concerned. A place where cold-blooded murder has unleashed on ill-fated Indians in broad daylight by British Indian soldiers.
The place is also now known as “The Flame of Liberty” and is maintained by preserving every possible detail left behind after that calculated and well-planned assault very carefully. It is helpful for every visitor as they will get a chance to see how cruel the freedom struggle and the days prior to it were. A memorial stone is also installed in front of the memorial inscribed with all the details.
THE JALIAN WALA BAGH
Jalian Wala Bagh was a vast public place then with an area around 6 acres. It was enclosed all around leaving one main exit and a few small openings. On the day of Baisakhi morning, a number of peoples from many communities like Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims were gathered here. Baisakhi is one of Punjab’s largest religious festivals similar to Pongal and Vishu of South.
These people happened to join with some Non – Violent Sikh locals protesting against the decision by the British authorities. They were against the deportation of two Sikh leaders when Colonel Dyer has ordered to shoot on these crowds by closing all the exit points. They were angered with the way Indians were shown the courage to oppose some royal decisions.
Though we will never be able to know the extent of causality due to the fact that the available reports were contradictory and not matching with each other in different articles it is believed that more than a thousand people were murdered. And the number of injured people might have been much more than this too.
History is re-lived here in the exact place where many people had lost their lives. It can be seen through a number of bullet marks specifically marked in a square on the brick walls. And through a ‘well’ which is later named as Martyr’s well where many people fell or jumped while they run away to save their life from bullets.
CAREFULLY MAINTAINED PAINED MEMORIES
Bullet marks or precisely the deep impressions where the bullet stroked on the red brick walls are still conserved within white square marked on the wall. They might have fired without any particular aim among the crowd of approximately between 15000 to 20000 numbers as per the record. Literally scared at the thought when it read that 1650 rounds were fired continuously on innocent people without any warnings. Imagine, that too after closing all the available exit points.
Many pictures showing the gravity of events to demonstrate the extent of brutality were displayed in the Gallery. A light and sound show with the voice of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachan is also arranged. An Amar Jyot, a flame that would never cease is also made in a specially decorated place. It is with the purpose of respecting the sacrifice of many lives lost in the unfortunate event.
Not much time was required to complete the visit here. Unlike other tourist spots, this place was given some pain somewhere in the deepest corner of the heart. We were out on the busy streets from another building passing through other important locations. Those places were having many photographs, news articles, and reports published on the following days after the incident.
The next place was within the city only. It was a temple known as Durgiana Tirath. The Golden Temple is the most important attraction in Amritsar without any doubt. But once inside the main gate of this Durgiana temple, people will also wonder whether it is Amritsar special that devotional places are constructed within a lake and in Golden shade. This temple too is constructed in a huge water body with a bridge to reach the temple. The golden dome and white marble resemble to the style used in Golden Temple.
Another temple with a surprise element to many visitors most probably is Mata Lal Devi Temple situated very close to Durgiana Tirath. This was a place with less divinity but more fun. As there is a saying that India has 330 million Gods, this temple looks like they were having a plan to install as many as possible.
The entrance and immediate inside looks like any ordinary temple across many places in India. But a small entrance on the left side where its concept starts changing. It consists of a long corridor that seems like a never-ending one. Visitors need to walk through and the different locations consisted of many features with a variety of hidden amazement. Deities of a number of Gods were lined along. In some places, the whole area was arranged with mirrors.
Replicas of caves and streams were beautifully made and arranged in between. And in some other spots, one needs to crawl or bend or jump in order to move. Other spots were made to look like entering through the mouth of a wild animal. A cave that resembles like the famous Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu Kashmir is also made on the way. By the time I was out on the street it was time for lunch after which the program for Wagah border was fixed.
I wish it was lucky if there was a chance to witness some Bhangra music and dance that the Punjab and Punjabi’s are famous for, but sadly it never materialized. But spending few hours in Punjab with a visit to all these places was worth it. The Golden Temple and Wagah Border in addition to getting a taste of a local flavor and mingling with a society that shows a bundle of energy and happiness every time was some moments that were not easy to forget too.