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Punjab

Punjab is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west, it is also bounded to the north by Jammu and Kashmir. The state capital is Chandigarh, which is a Union Territory and also the capital of neighbouring state of Haryana. Major cities of Punjab includes Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Jalandhar, Moga, Phagwara, Rajpura, Bathinda and Mohali.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab; it is the largest single provider of wheat to India. Other major industries include the manufacturing of scientific instruments, agricultural goods, electrical goods, financial services, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, tourism, fertilizers, bicycles, garments, and the processing of pine oil and sugar. Punjab also has the largest number of Steel Rolling Mill Plants in India which are located in Steel Town Mandi Gobindgarh, District Fatehgarh Sahib.

Places to Visit in Punjab

Anandpur Sahib was founded in the year 1665 by the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, near the ruins of an ancient place, Makhowal. On May 13,1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Bilaspur to attend the mourning for Raja Dip Chand of Bilaspur State. The Dowager Rani Champa of Bilaspur offered to give the Guru a piece of land in her state. The Guru bought the site on payment of five hundred rupees. The land consisted of the villages of Lodhipur, Mianpur and Sahota. Here on the mound of Makhowal, Guru Tegh Bahadur raised a new habitation. The ground was broken on June 19, 1665, by Baba Gurditta Randhawa. The new village was named Chakk Nanaki after the Guru's mother, Nanaki. The place later came to be known as Anandpur Sahib.

The Takht Sahib proper is a square hall with a balcony in front overlooking a spacious courtyard on a lower level. In the middle of the inner domed room are placed some weapons preserved as sacred relics. The space being limited on the top of the hill, the sarovar is on the plain ground west of the Takht Sahib. A large spacious pavilion is also around for larger congregation. Although the town is small but on the occassion of Hola Mohalla every year in the month of March it booms into boisterous activities and recaptures its old glory and splendor.

Anandpur Sahib comes to life every year on the occasion of Hola Mohalla. This tradition dates back to the times of the 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The Guru decided that the occasion of the festival of Holi, fun and frolic and colour splashing, be the occasion for the display of the martial spirit of his people and he gave this festival of Holi a more masculine name of Hola Mohalla. Each year Hola Mohalla marks the congregation of lacs of devotees from all over the country for a festival of colour and gaiety.

Bhakra Nangal Dam is truly one of the most awe-inspiring attractions in entire Punjab. Started in the year 1948, construction of Bhakra Nangal Dam took 15 years to complete. Not only is this the biggest in India, it is the world's highest straight gravity dam. Situated on Sutluj River on the border between Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, approximately 116 km from Chandigarh, Bhakra Nangal dam provides solutions to power troubles of many cities outside Punjab. With the construction of Bhakra Nangal Dam, another masterpiece came into existence; the huge Gobind Sagar reservoir. Name after the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, the resevoir covers an area of nearly 40 sq. km.

Even though the construction of the dam started in the year 1948 by Sir Louis Dane, it's work was halted in between. It was again resumed by the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the year 1955. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru described Bhakra Nangal Dam as 'The Temple of Resurgent India' and dedicated its services for the benefit of entire nation. Built at a total cost of 245 crores, Bhakra Nangal dam is considered a feat in engineering that is hard to be parallaled.

Devi Talab Mandir is an ancient temple located in the heart of Jalandhar city. The temple is magnificently structured with an inverted conical shaped shikara, covered with golden plates. Recently, the Structure of these temples has been modernized. The main temple of Devi Talab Mandir is encircled with a sacred water pond which is of 200yrs Old, devotees take a holy dip in this pond. There are several temples located at the Devi Talab Mandir. It is a holy place visited by number of devotees and travelers.

Goddess Kaali Temple is another temple located on the other side of Devi Talab Mandir. This temple is prominent as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas and is called as Tripurmalini Shaktipeeth. It is believed that, the right breast of Sati fell here.

Bhishan Bhairav is another important temple of lord Shiva which is located in the surroundings of Devi Talab Mandir.

Hariballabh Sangeet Sammelan is the famous mela, held in the limits of Devi Talab Mandir every year. This is a very prominent fair, performed in the memory of Swami Hariballabh. This mela is held in the last week of December every year. Eminent singers and instrument players from the different parts of the country come here to participate in the event. Hariballabh Sangeet Mela is being held every year at Devi Talab Mandir since 125 years.

Cave Temple is another prominent temple built in the recent times, in the limits of Devi Talab Mandir. The model of this temple is an exact replica of Amarnath temple (Jammu and Kashmir). It has become very famous tourist attraction in short time. The travelers, who find difficulty in taking up Amarnath Yathra, can comfortably visit this place.

Standing in the centre of a large tank, Amrit Sarovar, the Golden Temple is the most beautiful aspect of Amritsar.

The city of Amritsar was built around the Golden Temple and the Amrit Sarovar Lake, from which it derives its name. Originally named Sri Harmandir Sahib, the temple complex is surrounded by a fortified wall with eighteen gates and has its main north entrance under a Victorian clock tower known as the Darshani Deori. The entrance is up a flight of steps and down again to the temple and holy tank.

The Golden Temple sits on a rectangular platform in the centre of the Amrit Sarovar. It is surrounded by a white marble corridor, through which pilgrims visiting the shrine walk, circumnavigating the temple. A narrow causeway links the Harmandir, or Darbar Sahib, as the temple is also called. The entrance to the temple is through an ornate archway with intricate inlay work, inscribed with verses from the Granth Sahib.

The temple building is three storeys high and is crowned with a dome shaped like an inverted lotus. The lower storey is in white marble, while the two upper storeys have gold plating. The temple has four entrances instead of the usual single entry, symbolic of the openness of Sikhism and the fact that followers of all faiths are welcome here. The walls within are decorated with carved wooden panels and elaborate inlay work in silver and gold.

The Akal Takht, next to the Golden Temple, is the seat of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, the religious governing body of the Sikhs. The building of the Akal Takht was begun by Guru Arjan Dev and was finally completed in 1609 by Guru Hargobind.

The Adi Granth (the immortal scripture), compiled by Guru Arjan Dev was installed in 1604 in the temple and today rests on a throne beneath a jewel-encrusted canopy. It is housed in the Akal Takht and is taken out in procession every morning to be placed at the Harmandir where priests continuously recite verses from the holy book in 3-hour shifts after which it is brought back to the Akal Takht at night. A complete reading of the text takes 48 hours.

Facilities within the Golden Temple complex include a number of private books and music stores selling religious literature and music and souvenir shops for the tourists.

Noted for its most infamous massacre under British rule, Jallianwala Bagh is a beautiful public garden that houses a memorial of national importance. Located in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh is one of the major tourist attractions of Amritsar.

Spread over 6.5 acres of land, Jallianwala Bagh is associated with the saddest day in the history of the Indian Freedom Movement. This place was a popular ground for holding meetings and protests during the freedom struggle in India. On 13th April, 1919, on the occasion of Baisakhi, a large crowd of around 20,000 people had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh to protest against the arrest of two Indian freedom leaders. The crowd included women as well as children. As they were listening to the speeches of their leaders, the British General, Edward Dyer, ordered his soldiers to fire on the unarmed and helpless crowd. Continuous open-firing went on targeting the crowd while the people were trapped inside the Jallianwala Bagh. The place had only one narrow gate which had already been blocked by General Dyer and his troops.

This tragic incident has left a deep scar on the Indians. Post independence, the massacre memorial was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 13th April, 1961. Today this ground has been changed to a beautiful public park. The memorial is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust. There is a narrow lane between the houses which leads to the lawn of the park. At the entrance there is a memorial tablet which gives an account of the history. There is a well at the site in which many people who tried to escape from the bullets were drowned. The memorial also preserves the remnants of the wall which have the bullet marks. At another side of the garden is an eternal flame of remembrance, named the ‘Flame of Liberty’, set up in commemoration of those who died at the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Kurukshetra is a very holy place where the battle of Kurukshetra took place and where the xe "Bhagavad-gita" Bhagavad-gita was spoken. This event is described in the Mahabharata. It is believed that all the holy waters of India flow into the Kurukshetra tank at the time of an eclipse. At that time, one million people come to bathe. It is said that those who visit this area, reside here, take bath in the tanks here, or die in Kurukshetra go to heaven after death. The Mahabharata states that one who dies at Kurukshetra attains salvation. Kurukshetra is 160 km north of Delhi.

The Kurukshetra area covers a 160km (100 miles) area and is home to many places of pilgrimage related to the Mahabharata events. The area includes Pehowa, Kalayat, Amin, Phalgu, Thanesar, Jyotisara, and Kurukshetra town. It is said that after performing a great yajna, Lord Brahma created the universe from here. It is said that Manu wrote his Manu-smriti here, and that the Rig and Sama Vedas were compiled in this place. Kurukshetra is named after King Kuru, who also performed a great sacrifice here.

Buddha is said to have visited Kurukshetra. Bhisma Kund is where Bhisma lay on a bed of arrows. Ban Ganga was created by Arjuna shooting an arrow into the earth there, and the now subterranean Saraswati River once flowed at this place. The astronomical meridian goes through Kurukshetra, Mathura, and Ujjain. Gita Jayanti is a major event celebrated in December. This is the anniversary of the speaking of the Bhagavad-gita.

The lieutenants of Sikandar Lodi, the second ruler of the Afghan Lodi Dynasty who reined Ludhiana from 1481 AD constructed Lodhi Fort in the last decade of 15th century. Stationed at the strategic location on the banks of the river Satluj, this more than 500 years old military fort is now in a decrepit condition. Nihang Khan, one of the military generals sent by Badshah Sikandar Lodi stayed in this fort and protected the entrance to the newly established Lodhi Ana. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was in possession of Ludhiana as well as Lodhi fort for some years who repulsed many British invasions with the help of the strong architecture of Lodhi Fort. However, Lodhi Fort fell into the hands of British with his decline. This massive structure spread over an extensive area of 5.6 acres was well maintained during the British Rule.

After Independence, Sikh regiments of Indian Army were lodged in this fort for some decades. But after their withdrawal, the Lodhi Fort started crumbling due to the lack of maintenance. Moreover, Ludhiana citizens also started encroaching upon the fort premises and started digging it for making space to build their houses and shops. Even the Archaeological Department of India hasn’t helped in the conservation of this historical edifice and today some parts of the fort have completely vanished. Only some ruins of the ponderous outer wall, two colossal entrance gates opening to the meandering paths leading towards the interiors of the fort and some damaged barracks stand representing the grand history of Ludhiana at present. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had dug up a tunnel linking this fort to his palace at Phillaur across the river Satluj, but only the entrance of the tunnel is visible now. Government Institute of Textile and Dyeing Technology was housed in this fort earlier, but it has been shifted to other location presently and the fort is left untended and unguarded.

Qila Mubarak is one of the prominent tourist attractions of Patiala. Built in 1764, by Maharaja Ala Singh, the fort was originally made as a mud fort or kachi garhi. The Maharaja constructed the pacca qila after his conquest of Sirhind. He constructed the qila by using the octroi received from the merchandise passing through his territory of the GT road. Qila Mubarak stands in a 10-acre ground, in the heart of the district, about 29 km to the west of Ambala.

Qila Mubarak has two main parts, which were built by two royals. One of them is Qila Androon i.e. the interior portion, built by Maharaja Ala Singh. Situated on a mound, it ascends as one move into it. It forms the main palace where the royal family resided in the past. The palace has an architectural style with synthesis of the Mughal and Rajasthani rule. The complex has 10 courtyards along the north-south axis and each courtyard is unique in size and character. Each set of rooms in the Qila Androon makes a cluster around a courtyard and each bears a specific name.

The other part of the palace is Qila Mubarak, which is between Qila Androon and the outer walls, with the secretariat on the left and the Darbar Hall on the right. The Darbar Hall has now been converted into a mini museum, which contains rare arms and armors, including the sword and dagger of Guru Gobind Singh and the sword of Nadir Shah, called 'Shikar Gah’, who invaded India in 1739. This portion was built by Maharaja Karam Singh. The gate of the Qila Androon is decorated with exquisite geometric and floral designs and is made of lime plaster.

Qila Mubarak has several apartments inside it like, the Jail Walla Palace for royal prisoners, the Moti (pearl) Palace, the Sheesh (mirror work) Palace, the Rajmata (Queen Mother) Palace, the Palace of Colors and the Palace of Moon. There are also recreational chambers called the Putli Ghar (Puppet House) and Bagh Ghar (Garden House). The striking feature of the palace is that it is fitted with underground sewerage system and has a room connected with a tunnel, which brings cool air from the basement.

Ranjit Sagar Dam Pathankot (Shahpur Kandi): - Shahpur Kandi, a place of unique beauty a little north of Madhopur. Close by is the newly constructed Thein or Ranjit Sagar Dam. RANJIT SAGAR DAM (HYDRO ELECTRIC PROJECT) 4 X 150 MW. 1), Location, The dam is located at river Ravi near village Thein. The Project is to be executed on River Ravi. 11 KM downstream of Ranjit Sagar Dam and 7.8 KM upstream of Madhopur Head works. It will provide a balancing Reservoir to ensure Uniform supply at Madhopur Head works and to enable Ranjit Sagar Power Plant to work as a peaking station.

Known as the `City of Gardens and Palaces', Patiala doesn't quite make it to the top of Punjab's high-profile tourist destinations, but it's worth a visit nevertheless- if only to have a look at the sumptuous Sheesh Mahal in the Qila Mubarak. A telling tribute to the days of the flamboyant Maharajas of Patiala, the Sheesh Mahal is part of the Qila Mubarak.

The then Maharaja of Patiala, Narendra Singh, built the Sheesh Mahal (in Patiala's Old Moti Bagh) in 1847, and his much-admired aesthetic sense governed the design and decoration of this stunning palace to a substantial extent.

Maharaja Narendra Singh was widely acknowledged as a patron of the arts, and the Sheesh Mahal is definitely a tribute to his taste. It's a sprawling three-storied building, part-European and part-Mughal in appearance, set amidst landscaped gardens supposedly modeled on Lahore's Shalimar Bagh. Fountains, terraces and an artificial lake (near which is the Banasar Ghar, a repository for stuffed animals), verdant lawns and flowerbeds form the backdrop for the Mahal, with its two watchtowers at both end and a suspension bridge, modeled after the Laxman Jhoola at Rishikesh.

The Sheesh Mahal is decorated throughout with everything from murals and exquisite mirror-work to lovely floral designs on the walls which are reminiscent of Mughal pietra dura. Most of the murals at the Sheesh Mahal portray themes from mythology and religion, along with depictions of some of northern India's best classical poetry, especially that of masters such as Surdas, Keshav Das and Bihari Lal. The decoration of the Sheesh Mahal was entrusted to an army of skilled artisans from both Rajasthan and Kangra, and the typical art styles of both regions are apparent in the exquisite work on display. Amongst the Sheesh Mahal's most highly recommended displays is a series of Kangra-style miniatures depicting the Geet Govind, the epic poem by Jaidev.

The creation of theSukhna lake was one of the greatest gift from Le Corbusier and the Chief Engineer P L Verma to the city of Chandigarh. To preserve its tranquility Corbusier insisted that it be forbidden to motor boats and the top of the dam (promenade) prohibited to vehicular traffic. The lake is fringed by a golf course to the south, and Nek Chand's famous Rock Garden of Chandigarh to its west. Sukhna is an inseparable part of the city of Chandigarh. Le Corbusier had foreseen that the residents of the city would be drawn it for the 'care of the body and spirit'. The city planners were deeply attached to the lake. So much so that Pierre Jeanneret's ashes were immersed in the lake in 1970 as per his wishes by his niece.

The roof of the 'bandh' or dam has become a favorite promenade. Serious walkers pursue an exercise regime, families enjoy an evening stroll and nature lovers mingle with children on roller skates. Photographers and painters love to capture its scenic beauty of the setting sun, or the heavily clouded monsoon sky, or the early morning mist in winter set amidst the tranquility of the lake. Even anglers do not leave unrewarded.

Wagah is an army outpost on Indo-Pak border - between Amritsar and Lahore. I had the opportunity to witness a ritual of 'madness' at this border post recently.

Wagah Border is situated at a distance of 28 kilometers from Amritsar Punjab. Wagah Border is the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. Wagah Border is an army outpost to keep check intrusion from Pakistan and prevents any Indian from going to Pakistan. Unique buses and taxes from Amritsar city take the tourists to Wagah Border. Way Wagah the tourist chance upon seeing some of the lushest lands of Amritsar Punjab.

At the Wagah border outpost there is a complex of buildings, roads and barriers on both sides. At the entrance of this outpost, there is a sightseeing gate with a dedication "Swarna Jayanti". From this a panoramic view of the scenery is seen. There are electrified barriers with 66,000 volts of electric current. Person visit Wagah border to see "Beating the Retreat" observance performed by the soldiers in evening. Soldiers from India and Pakistan make a flag march. The flags are India and Pakistan is brought down. Then the gates between India and Pakistan are opened. Soldiers make some drills and then the complex is illuminated. The whole service takes about half an hour.

 

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