Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Into the Past - Amritsar Heritage Walk

The Punjab Tourism website is like any other government website.  Rather boring. However, something did catch my attention .  It was the mention of the Amritsar Heritage Walk and a contact phone number.  A call to the number got me an immediate response and a text message with names of two guides.  So, there we were, early morning, going through small lanes of Amritsar city, with our young guide, Ms Gurvinder

The lanes were narrow, and you had to be on constant alert. Making sure you did not step into garbage, avoiding the speeding scooter, the stray dog, clicking sounds and occasional yells from the rickshaw driver and the motorcyclist. Photography comes with risks.  However, I did manage a few pictures but not quite the capture I would have liked.

The walk was around 1.5 km.  It takes you past some of the old monuments that were built by the British.  Old houses that  might soon sadly vanish. Through crossroads and lanes that were witness to unity marches and ghastly actions of British.

Our guide was knowledgeable and the walk into the past despite the chaos around was unbelievable.

Town Hall

The walk began at the Town Hall built by the British in 1866 as the centre for administration. The Central Tower houses a bell that was used when messages had to be conveyed.

Mosque and Bank

Nearby is the Jaan Mohammad Mosque built in 1872 by the businessman Mian Jaan. And the building that now houses the Punjab National Bank which was known as the Lal Haveli, and housed an oil and perfume manufacturing factory.  These had an international market as well !

Gurudwara Saragarhi

Onward to the Gurudwara Saragarhi, dedicated to the 21 soldiers of the Sikh Batallion who refused to surrender and fought a six hour long battle with 10000 Pathan tribesman. . This place was dedicated to the 21 soldiers of the 36 Sikh Batallion who were sent to protect the Fort Lokhart.  They were ambushed by ten thousand Pathan tribesman. They refused to surrender and lost their lives in a six hour battle. This is one of the three gurudwaras built to commemorate their bravery,

Qila Ahluwalia (Illustration on the left - from brochure of Punjab Tourism) The fort belonged to Alhluwalia Misl. 

Wooden Jharokas.

Painting on the underside of arches, and a hand that is pointing downwards
A little sculpture, almost went unnoticed

Jalebiwala Chowk.  Right under the blue windows is the famous jalebi shop
On April 9,1919, to defy the divide and rule of the British, the Hindu and Muslims came together to celebrate Ram Navami here.  And it is still home to Gurudas Ram de Jalebi Wala.  

Chitta Akhara

Baba Bohar in Bartan Bazaar, you find rows and rows of shops that sell utensils.  In the middle of the road is a huge Banyan ( Bohar) tree. It hasn't been axed or touched for centuries, houses have been built around it and the branches go into various windows
We then went past the Chowrasti Atari. Chowrasti ( crossroads) and Atari (terrace). It had four passages and 32 shops.

Then onward to the Taksal, or the Mint, where Maharaja Ranjit Singh minted coins (1803) dedicated to his queen Moran. Moran was a dancing girl. This did not go down too well with the priests of the Golden Temple who ordered the production to be stopped.   Right opposite is the Shahni Mandir.  

Shahni Mandir with images of Garuda and Hanuman

The walk ended at the Golden Temple.  After which  we proceeded to have a hot, crisp jalebi at the Jalebiwala chowk.  
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