Inside Punjab and Haryana
PUNJAB, HARYANA & CHANDIGARH
While Punjab and Haryana are two different states of India, Chandigarh is an Union Territory.
The story of Punjab, is a story of its saga of sacrifices made by the Sikhs, and also the story of their sufferings. It is this state which bore the burnt of destruction and damage during the partition of India, in 1947. Yet, today, it is the most affluent state among Indian stales. This, the Sikhs have achieved by dint of their sheer hard work, enterprise and bravery in every field.
The story of Punjab centres mostly around Amritsar, which is very close to the Pakistan border. Before the partition, the capital city of Punjab was Lahore, which is today in Pakistan. The population of Punjab before the partition, was split between Muslims and Sikhs by the grim logic, under which it was divided into two slices.
Punjab is also called as the land of five rivers. Prior to partition, Punjab extended across both sides of what is now the Pakistan-India border. During partition in 1947, when Punjab was divided between India & Pakistan, lakhs of Sikhs and Hindus fled east-ward and an equal number of Muslims fled west. There were innumerable atrocities and killings on both sides. More recently, Sikh political demands have wreaked havoc in the state, particularly in Amritsar, the capital city of Punjab, and this has made it of late, a rather unsafe place to visit.
Amritsar is the holy city of the Sikhs. It is also known as the Golden city. The Sikhs, due to their hard work and no-non- sense attitude, are among the most affluent in India. They are also the most instantly recognisable people in India - i.e .. , they do not cut their hair. All Sikh men are beared and turbaned. They are normally tall and very well-built. All Sikhs have the surname Singh meaning lion. The Sikhs have a reputation for great dexterity and mechanical ability - they are always at home with machines, and in India, in any activity connected with machines, from driving an auto-rickshaw to piloting an aircraft, one finds Sikhs. Al- though Punjabis comprise less than 2.5 per cent of India's population, they provide 60 per cent of India's wheat surplus and 50 per cent of its rich surplus. Punjab provides a third of all the milk produced in India. Punjab's per capita in- come is 50 per cent higher than the all-India average. The second place is Haryana. Pun- jabis contribute 5 per cent of India's total bank deposits and their life expectancy is much more than the all-India average. Although predominantly an agricultural state, it also have thriving industries including Hero bicycles factory at Ludhiana.
Guru Nanak, founded the Sikh Brotherhood in 1497. Guru Nanak was born in 1469 at Tal- wandi, near Lathore (now in Pakistan). He was a social reformer and revolutionary. He was a follower of another mystic-saint, Kabir. Guru Nanak's famous saying was:
There is no Hindu, no Muslim. He fought for Hindu-Muslim unity, like his master, Kabir. Nanak thought that God is accessible to all. So, he drew disciples from the sects. The followers of his creed are now called Sikhs.
Guru Nanak died in the year 1539. He has both Hindu and Muslim followers.
History shows that Sikhs be- came militant after their Guru, Arjun, was tortured to death by Emperor Jehangir.
However, peace has now dawned on Punjab which has suffered untold misery before and even after independence.
Punjab means, the land of five rivers - Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum. It is not only nature that has made the Punjab the granary of India. The industry and organization of the Sikhs is also responsible for it. Sikhs have survived not only the partition of India, but also the Pakistani war of 1965. Sikhs are the chief component of Indian army. They have the capacity to survive war as well as peace. It was the Sikhs who came to the rescue of 650 mil- lion Indians in the mid-1970s when India suffered the worst drought.
In short, Sikhs, the followers of Guru Nanak, in their social awareness, energetic organisation and strength of devotion to duty, are sincere and impressive example of the four great principles of their faith- equality, industry, generosity and optimism.
Sultanpur: Sultanpur is 46 kms away from Delhi. There is a bird sanctuary here. The ideal time to visit is September to March. On way from Delhi to Chandigarh, a distance of about 260 km, there are a number of places of tourist interest. The road, 'part of the Grand Trunk Road, is one of the busiest in India.
Panipat: Panipat is 92 km to the north of Delhi and is also the site of three great battles. In 1526,' Babar defeated Ibrahim Lodi, king of Delhi at Panipat and founded the Moghul empire in India. In 1556, Akbar defeated the Pathans at : this same site.' In 1761 the Marathas, who had succeeded the Moghuls, were defeated here by the Afghan forces of Ahmad Shah Durani, Panipat has also the dubious distinction as one of the most fly-infested places in India.
Kurukshetra: Kurukshetra, according to legend, was the battle- field of the Mahabharata was fought here for 18 days. The Kurukshetra lake attracts lakhs of pilgrims during eclipses for, it is said that at these times, the lake gets water from every other sacred lake and tank in India. Thus, its ability to wash off sins during the eclipse, is unsurpassed. It was at Kamal that Nadir Shah, the Persian king, defeated the Moghul emperor Muhammed Shah in 1739, and took away the peacock throne from Delhi. Kurukshetra also has an interesting small mosque, the Lal Masjid, and a finely designed tomb.
Amritsar: Amritsar is the holy place of the Sikhs. it is about 450 km north of Delhi. The Golden Temple here is world famous. There is a lake around the temple. Inside the temple a copy of the holy book of the Sikhs-Granth Sahib-is kept. To the south of the temple is a garden, and the tower of Baba Atal The Central Sikh Museum is atop the Clock Tower. Jalianwallahbagh, the place where the British military fired at hundreds of helpless Indians, is at a walkable distance from this place. Four hundred seventy one person were killed in the firing which took place in 1919. Even today, the bullet marks on the walls can be seen. In Amritsar, the Ram Bagh Garden and the palace built by Ranjit Singh are a great attraction. This palace now houses the weapons of the Mughal period and the paintings of Punjab rulers, which are open to public.
Amritsar, from the point of view of tourists, is famous for Pashmina - a soft fleece of the Himalayan goat, which is woven into shawls, scarves and blankets. One can see here all races of traders - Baluchs, Turks, Kashmiris, Tibetans Iranis and Nepalis - all selling their wares.
Amritsar, being a frontier town, is also a haven. for the smuggler. It Looks like the city of I Ali Baba and the forty thieves'. The city also exudes an atmosphere of energetic industry. People are mostly prosperous here.
Things to buy:
Woollen Blankets, Sweaters
How to get there:
Air: Flights connect Amritsar with Delhi, Srinigar, Jammu etc.
Bus: Buses operate from Amritsar to Delhi, Debra Dun, Shimla, Kulu, Dalhousie, Dhar- masala, Pathankot, Chandigarh, Ganganagar, etc.
Train: Trains connect Amritsar with Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Calcutta, etc. The Indo-Pak express connects Amritsar with Lahore in Pakistan.
Train: A fast train Shatabdi Express runs between Delhi and Amritsar.
Chandigarh: The Union Territory of Chandigarh city was constructed according to a plan by the French architect; Le. Corbusier, which commenced in the 1950s. It is a well planned city which is divided and numbered sector-wise. Chandigarh is on the edge of the Sivalik Hills, the outermost edge of the Himalayas. It is divided into 47 sectors separated by broad avenues.
The Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly buildings are in Sector 1. From the top of the Secretariat, one can take an excellent view of Chandigarh. Close to this building is the Rock Garden. Nearby is the artificial Sukhna Lake, which offers rented row-boats.
In Sector 10, there is the art gallery which contains a collection of Indian stone sculptures dating back to the Gandhara period along with some miniature paintings and modem art. The adjacent museum has fossils and implements of prehistoric man found in India. In Sector 16, is the Rose Garden claimed to be the biggest in Asia and contains more than a thousand varieties of roses.
Woolen sweaters and shawIs from the Punjab are worth buying, especially in the Government emporium. The Chandigarh shopping centre is probably the most extensive in India.
How to get there:
Air: Flights operate from Chandigarh to Delhi, Jammu, Srinagar, Leh, Kulu etc.
Bus: Chandigarh is connected with Delhi, Shimla, Dharmasala, Manali, Jaipur, Kulu, Amritsar, Pathankot, etc.
Train: Trains connect Chandigarh with Kalka, Shimla, Delhi etc.
Near Chandigarh: The Moghul gardens at Pinjore, is 20 km away from Chandigarh. The gardens include the Rajas- thani-Moghul-style Shish Mahal palace. Below it, is the Rang Mahal and the cubicle Jal Mahal. There is also a mini- zoo here.
How to get there:
Buses connect Pinjore with Chandigarh.
Patiala is on the route from Delhi to Amritsar. It was once the capital of the independent Sikh state. There is a museum' in the Moti Bagh and the palaces of the Maharaja in the Baradari Gardens. Sirhind which is also on the route from Delhi to Amritsar, was once an important town and the capital of the Pathan Sur dynasty. From 1555 when Humayun defeated Sikander Shah, till 1709 Sirhind was a rich Moghul city. Due to clashes between the declining Moghul and rising Sikh powers, the city faced complete destruction in 1763. The Pathan style tomb of Mir Miran and the later Moghul tomb of Pirbandi Nakshwala both ornamented with blue tiles are worth seeing. The mansion of Salabat Beg is probably the largest private home remaining from the Moghul period.
Ludhiana is an important textile centre and was the site of a great battle of the First Sikh war. Hero bicycles are manufactured here.
Jullundur which is 80 km away from Amritsar, was once the capital city of an ancient Hindu kingdom. It was ravaged by Mahmud of Ghazni nearly a thousand years ago and later became an important Moghul city. This is an ideal place to see some Sikh farming villages.
How to get there:
Trains connects Julundhar with Delhi and buses operate to Northern centres of the State from Julundhar.
Pathankot: The town of Pathankot is the gateway to Jammu and is at crossroads as it is a junction to most places in this area for the traveller. It is 107 km away from Amritsar. The picturesque Shahpur Kandi Fort is about 13 km north of the town on the River Ravi.
How to get there:
Bus: Buses connect Pathankot with Jammu, Dalhousie, Dharmasala, etc.