Amritsar, known for rich cultural heritage of four centuries, a living symbol of historical and religious traditions of Sikhs tangibly expressed through the divinely – blessed shrines, has rightfully earned for it the sobriquet “religious capital of the Sikhs”. Historically speaking, the fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das, secured the gift of a piece of land from Emperor Akbar, where he built the holy tank and laid the foundation of Amritsar, which became a sacred place for the pilgrimage of the community.
The fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev built the Harimandir in the centre of the holy tank. The execution of Guru Arjan Dev in 1606 transformed the religious community into a community of WAGAH BORDER 3 warriors. The process of transformation was started by Guru Har Gobind, the sixth Guru in line who girded two swords around him – one representing his spiritual leadership and the other as a weapon of self defence against aggression, thereby proclaiming the tradition of miri and piri. He also founded Akal Takhat symbolising the martial defence of the spiritual and pacifist aspect represented by Harimandir. Since then Amritsar became the nerve centre of Sikh activities and a symbol of abiding faith in the glorious traditions of the Sikhs.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh captured the city in 1805. His first important act was to gild the whole structure of Harimandir with gold. Thereafter it came to be called “The Golden Temple”. Akal Takhat and monument of Baba Atal – the tallest building in the city – were also completed and gilded. Flooring of the whole complex was done with white marble which symbolized beauty of purity. Jallianwala Bagh tragedy stands as a singular source of inspiration and strength during the freedom struggle. The inhuman face of the socalled paternalistic British Raj came to be seen by all the Indians and it is from here that the petitioning Indian National Congress became a martial force and converted the elitist movement into a mass movement. Gurdwara Reform Movement was launched from the city in 1920.
The movement reached its successful finale in 1925, when impregnable British colonial regime genuflected before the Guru’s warriors who had perfected the art of moral warfare. Mahatma Gandhi exclaimed it as the first moral victory for India’s independence. After partition, Amritsar has become the gateway of India by land route from Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries on the western side. With its glorious heritage, Amritsar is proudly holding its status of an internationally known city not only historically but also in context of social welfare, philanthropic activity and higher learning.