Amritsar: City of golden grandeur

Sikhism weaved liberal, inclusive commonalities of Islam and Hinduism

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Sameer Arshad Khatlani

Jun 03, 2007

If you are looking to beat the heat, Amritsar is perhaps not the place to go. But, if you are interested in history, want to celebrate diversity, and if you are looking for a hair-raising experience of nationalism, the city of Golden Temple is the place to go.

Though the city offers a combination of charms, Golden Temple attracts maximum tourists to Amritsar. Drawn by the majestic pull of the Golden Temple, diverse devotees add to the grandeur of the place.

Among other things, the sanctum sanctorum of the temple has an uncanny resemblance to a Sufi Dargah, understandably so, the genesis of Sikhism can be traced to a critical point of time in history, when the subcontinent was fragmented on communal lines.

The religion beautifully, as illustrated by the Sufi Imprint, weaved the liberal, inclusive commonalities of Islam and Hinduism to leave an indelible impression on India, at the height of Bhakti and Sufi movements.

While you may get engrossed in realms of devotion, don’t forget to taste the modest but delicious langhar, inside the temple premises. The langhar —  served on the extreme left corner of the temple — represents the essence of Sikhism. I find it an affirmation of inclusiveness and equality of human beings — the cornerstones of Sikhism and the reasons for its birth.

Another religious attraction in Amritsar is the Durgiana Temple. It is unique; unlike a Hindu Temple. Built in the 1930s, its architecture is influenced by the Golden Temple. The Temple rises from the midst of a tank and has canopies and the central dome in the style of a Sikh Temple. Politician and educationist Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya had laid its foundation stone.

The Jallianwala Bagh in the vicinity of Golden Temple is another major attraction in Amritsar. Walking down the path of the Bagh, I was transported back in time to the centre of India’s nationalist movement. It is where a brutal General of the British Army slaughtered scores of men, women and children. The massacre, however, roused the conscience of a subjugated nation and intensified the urge for freedom.

I rounded off my visit to Amritsar with a visit to the Wagah border. It hosts a unique ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony; probably unparallel anywhere else in the world. The soldiers on either side of the international border virtually stamp their authority on their respective sides of the border. The atmosphere is virtually filled by the nationalistic fervour, with patriotic songs and sloganeering trying to outdo the same on the Pakistani side.

While the sun sets on the Pakistani side, the numerical strength of Indians outdoes Pakistani and overwhelms the audience with the ferocity of the patriotism and raises them in one go to salute the unfurling national flag and chant in one voice: “Bharat Mata Ki Jai’’.

Courtesy: The Economic Times



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