Amritsar is a spiritually significant city and a popular tourist destination in the Indian state of Punjab. The city is a significant landmark that brings together traditions, religious practices, and cultural expression. It is also a symbol of India’s national integrity and the country’s struggle for independence from British rule in the early twentieth century. Amritsar, despite its modernity, is a city that is deeply rooted in its history.
Amritsar does not have a distinct architectural style. It has always been borrowed from somewhere else because the people who came and settled here came from all over. Furthermore, through so many different periods and socio-political changes, they have left their imprints on Amritsar’s architectural history. As a traveling architect, one can visit the following places in Amritsar.
The Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is the holiest Sikh temple in the world. It is located in the heart of Amritsar, or Amrit Sarovar, a beautiful body of water that gives the city its name. It was built in the 16th century but was not completed until 1764.
The shrine incorporates elements of various architectural styles, including Indo-Islamic Mughal and Hindu Rajput architecture. It is a two-story building. The lower level of the shrine is made of marble, while the upper level is covered in gold panels. At the top of this structure is a 750 kg gold-gilded dome. Even the shrine’s doors are encased in gold foil. The temple’s inner walls are adorned with semi-precious stones, glasswork, and Meena Kari work.
Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar is a public garden that serves as a poignant reminder of one of India’s most tragic chapters in the freedom struggle. Parts of Jallianwala Bagh were restored and recreated years after the massacre, but bullet marks on some of the walls here keep memories of the incident alive.
The memorial to the Flame of Liberty is now located in the garden. The memorial consists of a 30-foot-tall central pylon in the middle of a shallow tank. This structure is made of 300 red sandstone slabs, each with the Ashok Chakra etched on it. Four stone lanterns stand at the tank’s four corners.
Through the creative reuse of underutilized complex buildings, four new galleries have been created to display the historical significance of the events that occurred in Punjab at that time.
With 13 stories and 3500 steps, Chand Baori is one of the most spectacular step wells in Amritsar, dating back to 800 AD! This is an excellent location for photographers to capture the beauty of this ancient architectural marvel. It is a magnificent step-well that also asserts to be one of India’s deepest and largest step wells.
Kaiser Bagh Park
The park’s most appealing feature is the entrance to Kaiser Bagh Park Amritsar. Amritsar’s Kaiser Bagh is a stunning garden that boasts a unique fusion of Gothic and Mughal architectural styles. This quadrangular park, which dates from 1845-50, has an extensive flight of stairs at its attractive entrance that gives the impression of a bridge. With its cluster of domes and cupolas, Kaiser Bagh is frequently visited by tourists who enjoy capturing nature.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum
The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum was originally the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first king of the Sikh Empire, and later it was converted into a museum in 1977. It is a treasure trove of Sikh history, art, and architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries AD. The museum provides insight into the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh monarch. The Museum houses items related to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, such as arms and armor, exceptional paintings, and centuries-old coins and manuscripts.
The museum is one of the most picturesque places in Amritsar, with two dome-shaped buildings and a large tower.
The Gobindgarh Fort, which is nearly 260 years old, was built by Gujar Singh Bhangi, a local chieftain, and was later taken over by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Government of Punjab designated this location as a historical site in 1964.
Before it was opened to the public in 2017, the fort was under the command of the Indian Army and was only used for military purposes.
The Gobindgarh Fort is currently being converted into an art gallery and a living museum. Some of the most ancient Sikhism-related artwork and manuscripts will be displayed at the location.
Khalsa College is one of Amritsar’s oldest colleges, founded to preserve and promote Punjabi culture and heritage. This 127-year-old college remains a place of learning and reform, with the primary goal of eradicating social evils through education.
Khalsa College, which sits on 300 acres of land, is a sight to behold with its red-sandstone exterior and bright red domes, a stunning example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The green garden in front of the building is a nice contrast to the red walls.
Durgiana Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Durga in Amritsar. Durgiana Temple, modeled after the Golden Temple, is also known as the Silver Temple due to its marble walls and massive silver doors. With its half-gold, half-marble facade, the domed structure resembles the Golden Temple—even though it’s located in the middle of a sacred lake.
The Khair-ud-Din Masjid, located in the bustling Hall Bazaar, stands tall with an elegant dome and minarets. The location is culturally and historically significant, and it is well-known for its Islamic-style architecture with various inscriptions on the walls and calligraphy-style writing. The beauty of this mosque’s white marble structure is enhanced by green splashes painted on the walls. Khair-ud-Din Masjid, adorned with inscriptions, is a sight that inspires peace and reverence. Khair-ud-Din Masjid is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places to visit in Amritsar.
Lahori Gate is a city landmark located next to a bustling market where both tourists and locals congregate day and night. The city had twelve powerful gates constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Some of them were secured with two or three brass guns. The Lahori Darwaza was the main road entrance from Lahore.
The gate was the most significant among all the others Maharaja Ranjit Singh built, with Lahore serving as the capital. Bagicha Hakeem Gulab Rai, a prominent location outside it, has also succumbed to the passage of time.
It is another heritage site built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, surrounded by many stories and legends. Pul Kanjari, located near the Daoka and Dhanoa Kalan villages on the Wagha border, is approximately 35 kilometers from Amritsar and Lahore.
Despite a ruined fort and a baoli—a bathing pool—this heritage site has a temple, a Gurudwara, and a mosque that reflect the Maharaja’s secular concerns. The interior of the dome on the corner of the baoli depicts scenes and sights from Hindu scriptures and the Raj Darbar. Floral frames are woven into the frescoes.
Gandhi Gate (Hall Bazaar)
Gandhi Gate acts as an entrance to the famous Hall Bazaar in Amritsar. Hence, it is also called the Hall Gate. It follows the Mughal architectural style, providing a view to the crowds in the Hall Bazaar.
Akal Takht, one of the five sacred seats of power in the Sikh religion, means ‘throne of the timeless one.’ The seat is located inside the Golden Temple, and the holy book, Granth Sahib, is kept here at night. It is an important part of the Golden Temple and was built by Guru Hargobind Singh Ji, the sixth Sikh guru. Akal Takht translates as a “symbol of political sovereignty.” The original structure stood 3.5 meters tall, but the current structure is a five-story structure with marble walls and a gold-coated dome.
In Amritsar, the various periods’ architectural styles can be distinguished. Previously, the Rajasthani style was the primary influence on architecture. There are numerous jharokhas, decorative motifs, and carvings. Later, with the arrival of the Mughals, people began to use elements such as domes and minarets, though they were slightly modified. The domes, for example, would be fluted. The British brought pediments, colonnaded verandas, and entrance porches with them.
The British altered the city’s appearance by erecting numerous structures, many of which are still standing. During British rule, the city experienced significant infrastructure growth. Large structures were built both inside the walled city and outside the Circular Road. The British immediately began raising European-style architecture after taking over the city.
St. Paul’s Church
St. Paul’s Church is one of the city’s most beautiful structures. It is one of Amritsar’s oldest churches, having been built in 1852 and consecrated by the Bishop of Madras (now Chennai) in 1857. It was a part of the Diocese of Lahore until 1947 when it became a diocese of the Church of India. This Anglican Church is known for its beautiful cathedral-style architecture and is surrounded by well-kept gardens.
Bhai Vir Singh’s Residence
Lawrence Road is home to eminent Punjabi poet, novelist, and scholar Bhai Vir Singh Niwas. The house was built during the development of planned communities on both sides of Lawrence Road. As of today, the house has been transformed into a museum/library hybrid.
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