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India Travel Guide

History of Amritsar

The city has been tested time and again and always has emerged victorious

Early history sees the area of present day Amritsar being a part of the Indus Valley Civilization. The Greeks under the rule of Alexander ruled the area in 326 BC. The Mauryan Empire and the Gupta Empire have also been known to rule the area around the district of Amritsar.

Muslim rule came to Amritsar in the 11th century. Among the important Muslim dynasties to have ruled the area are the Slave Dynasty, the Lodhi Dynasty and the Mughals. It was during the same time that the people of Amritsar were influenced by the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. The most illustrious of all rulers in Punjab was Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who captured this temple town in 1802.

Amritsar as we know it today came into existence in the 16th century. There are various theories on how the city came into being; the popular one says that Guru Ram Das purchased the land now called the district of Amritsar in 1574 for Rs. 700 from the zamindars of the village of Tung.

Guru Ram Das started work on the excavation of the Amritsar Sarovar in 1577. Guru Arjun Singh renovated the tank (sarovar) from which the city derives its name in 1586. Guru Arjun Sahib laid the foundation of the Darbar Sahib in 1588. In 1604 the first volume of the holy scripture of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, which was also prepared in this city was installed at the Darbar Sahib.

Amritsar played a pivotal role in India's freedom struggle. Valiant freedom fighters from this part of India sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the country. It was from here that Shaheed Bhagat Singh took a vow upon himself to free India from the British clutches. In 1846 the British in India set up the Lahore Darbar and thereby their trips to Amritsar increased. The infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre when General Dyer ordered firing on a gathering at the place happened on April 13, 1919. This was the city from where Udham Singh made his way to London to avenge the killing of innocents at the Jalliwanwala Bagh.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.G.P.C.) and the Shiromani Akali Dal were established here in 1920.


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