Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Monday, 8 April 2013


Baisakhi is one of the significant festivals in India. Observed every year on April 13 or April 14, Baisakhi is celebrated with great gusto and fervour not only in northern parts of India but many Indian states in their own distinguished forms and with varied customs and rituals.

Traditionally, Baisakhi is a harvest festival and marks the culmination of a harvest season and beginning of a new one. On this day, farmers thank the Almighty for their fortune and pray for even a better crop the next year. Revelling in the glory of their revenues from the produce, they sing, dance and make merry.

Popular as Baisakhi in Punjab and Northern India, the festival is celebrated as ‘Vishu’ in Kerala, ‘Puthandu’ in Tamil Nadu, ‘Rongali or Bohag Bihu’ in Assam, ‘Naba Barsha’ in Bengal and ‘Vaisakha’ in Bihar.

Widely celebrated by Sikhs in Punjab, the state accredited for bringing the green revolution in India, Baisakhi has a deeper meaning and religious significance for the Khalsa community as it was during the Baisakhi celebrations in 1699 AD  when the tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, laid the foundation of the Khalsa community and blessed The Beloved Five (Panj Pyaras) with nectar and directed them to wear the five Ks – Kesh or long hair, Kangha or comb, Kirpan or dagger, Kachchha or shorts and a Kada or bangle.

Commemorating this historic and holy event, Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi with vigour, joy and devotion every year.

Grand celebrations take place at the historical gurudwaras of Sri Anandpur Sahib, Talwandi Sabo and Sri Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar. Water taken from all the sacred rivers of India is poured into the tank surrounding the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, is taken out in a procession led by the Panj Pyaras. Fairs are held
throughout the state of Punjab. Social events are organised where people dressed up in the traditional folk attire perform giddhas and bhangras.

Differences are forgotten, enemies are forgiven and all come out in unison to celebrate this beautiful festival which spreads joy, happiness and prosperity.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Heritage Site

Punjab's glorious past is most visible in the architecture that flourished during the Mogul era followed by the Maharajas who ruled it subsequently. However, every monument in Punjab, be it a gurudwara, palace or fort, displays magnificence in its construction styles. The majestic palaces of Patiala deserve a   special  mention.
Qila Mubarak and Shish Mahal built by the erstwhile emperors of Punjab are representative of the excellence of detail and works of arts during their reign. 

This section will take you through the historical times preserved in the museums and monuments.

  • Archaeological Destinations
  • Forts
  • Palaces
  • Museums

  • Archaeological Destinations
Due to its rigorous past, the best part of ancient Punjab is either in its ruins or underground. 

Evidence of Harappan Culture, Ropar
At Ropar, called Rup Nagar (the ‘town of beauty’) in olden times, evidence of Harappan culture of the Indus Valley Civilisation and relics of Alexander’s Army have been discovered

Dholbaha, Hoshiarpur
The excavations at Dholbaha, the ancient temple town at Hoshiarpur, date back to the Pleistocene period of Stone Age and show evidence of continued development of civilization right until the 7th and 8th century A.D. 
The museum containing these relics is situated in Hoshiarpur city. 

Sanghol, Fatehgarh Sahib
Archaeological digs here have yielded relics which date back from Harrapan Culture of 6th century A.D. A stupa and a Buddhist monastery complex of the Kushan era (1st-2nd Century AD) have also been unearthed here.

The simple earthen pitcher serves as a musical instrument in a number of folk songs. The Garah player strikes its sides with rings worn on fingers of one hand and also plays on its open mouth with the other hand to produce a distinct rhythmic beat.

Toomba is a famous folk instrument of Punjab, which is entirely based on Iktara (single stringed instrument), used by the legend singers. Now it's been adopted by a number of Punjabi folk singers. Toomba is made of wooden sticks mounted with a Toomba or wooden resonator covered with skin. A metallic string is passed on a resonator over a bridge and tied to the key at the end of the stick. The string is struck with a finger or sometimes with the Mizrab, and the Swaras are made by pressing the string to the stick.

Dhol is a favorite folk instrument of Punjab. It is a percussion instrument, which is used not only at male dance performances but also during social rituals and festive celebrations. The drummer is called Dholi or Bharaj. The dhol is a barrel-shaped wooden drum with a mounted skin on both sides. It is played with two different types of wooden sticks. The skin on either side is tightened at a different pitch.

Dhad is a small percussion instrument of the Damru style. Held in one hand, it is struck on either side, with the other hand holding the skinned sides vertically or horizontally. This instrument has been very popular with the Dhadies, who sing traditional ballads of brave warriors and heroes drawn from history.

This is a percussion twang-type instrument used in Punjab and neighbouring areas. The
tradition of playing it with songs goes back to the Naths or Jogis. This instrument consists of two long, flat pieces of iron with pointed ends, and rings mounted on it. The joint is held in one hand, while the two parts are struck with each other to produce tinkling sounds. Chimta has become popular in professional singing and devotional music in temples.

Sarangi is a popular bowed instrument in Punjab. It is wooden instrument about two feet long, cut from a single log covered with parchment. A bridge is placed in the middle. The sides of the Sarangi are pinched so as to bow it. The instrument usually has three major strings of varying thickness, and the fourth string is made of brass, used for drone. Modern sarangis contain 35-40 sympathetic strings running under the main strings. This is used for accompaniment by artists and is an ideal instrument for producing all types of Gamks and Meends.

This is a stringed instrument made of dried gourd (Ghia). A piece of skin is mounted on one side of the hollowed gourd while the other side is kept open. A gut string (Tand) is crossed through the centre of the skin and a small piece of wood is tied to the end of the string, which passes through the body of the gourd. To maintain a drum-like rhythm, the string is stretched or loosened while playing.

Algoza consists of a pair of wooden flutes. It is also called Jori (a pair) and is played by one person using only three fingers on each side. Folk singers of Punjab use this in their traditional legend singing like Mirza, Chhalla, Jugni etc. The instrument is also used as accompaniment with folk dances.

Bhangra festival to be held for the first time in Punjab will be organised on annual basis during pleasant season of approaching winter.
Scenic locations across Punjab with backdrop of Heritage and Conserved monuments, Bhangra Festival aims to provide an opportunity to people across the country and abroad to get insight into one of the most popular music genre, Dhol beats. Bhangra is an important aspect of Punjabi culture that has been celebrating the joyous occasions from 2000 BC.
Bhangra was mainly known as folk dance of harvesting season. Bhangra Festival shall strengthens communities by bringing people together in a festival atmosphere where everyone can enjoy food, music and dance. Audience participation will be highlight apart from competitions. People will dance
on replicated steps to be taught on spot. 

Monday, 25 March 2013


Celebrated on the 13th day of January, Lohri is a festival of zeal and verve and marks the culmination of the chilly winter. In true spirit of the Punjabi culture, men and women perform Bhangra and Giddha, popular Punjabi folk dances, around a bonfire. Enthusiastic children go from house to house singing songs and people oblige them generously by giving them money and eatables as offering for the festival. Late in the evening, people gather around the bonfire and throw sweets (gachak and rewri), puffed rice and popcorn (as holy offering) into it and sing folk songs. Lohri is also an auspicious occasion to celebrate a newly born baby’s or a new bride’s arrival in the family. The day ends with a traditional feast of sarson da saag and makki di roti and a dessert of rau di kheer (a dessert made of sugarcane juice and rice).

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The culture of Punjab has its own unique fragrance. It is unmatched. The scent of this fertile land is such in which the warmth of you-are-my-own is inborn. All communities hold pride in their traditions and the Punjabis whose open-mindedness has become proverbial also hold their unique tradition of hospitality high in their estimation as well as in their values of life. A guest in Punjab is considered as a representative sent by God.

Enriched with a distinct blend of rural and urban flavors, Punjab has a lot to offer to a tourist eye. It has a unique religious legacy with a host of Gurudwaras, the largest and the most prominent being The Golden Temple at Amritsar. Every year, thousands of tourists from around the world visit this holy shrine. The dome of the temple covered with pure gold presents a fascinating sight as its reflection falls in the holy waters of the sarovar. Other gurudwaras worth visiting are Sri Anandpur Sahib (the birthplace of Khalsa), Damdama Sahib and Goindwal Sahib.Jallianwala Bagh of Amritsar is another historical spot where a number of people jumped into a well to escape the firing of a British General. The place reminds one of the horrors of the British rule and Punjab's sacrifice to the struggle for freedom of India.

Then there is the Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which has now been converted into a museum. It preserves the weapons dating back to the Mogul times and portraits of the ruling dynasties of Punjab.

The best times to visit Punjab are the autumn and the spring seasons. The natural landscape looks breathtaking with lush mustard fields. The rustic charm of the place and celebratory spirit of the Punjabis are sure to make for a memorable travel experience.

Hospitality binds people together in bonds of love; it increases circles of friendship and makes the atmosphere aglow with human warmth. Punjabis have proved this in all corners of the world in seemingly alien lands and because of these qualities they have been willingly accepted as useful, responsible citizens of the world, warm neighbours and good friends.

When the British landed in Punjab as victors they were astonished to find that every little village and every mohalla in the larger cities of Punjab had special places to receive and honour guests, and that the people of this land were irrepressible extroverts. The District Gazetteers of the time bring forth Punjab's generous hospitality in bold relief.

Although Punjab has received hospitality as God's gift, on account of recent disturbances and rising prices it is coming under strain in the towns and cities. However, in villages it still reigns supreme. It resides in the soul of rural folk. Reach a home in the middle of the night, the ladies will happily get up and cook fresh food for you. You can't pass by certain villages without enjoying hospitality. You'll be looked after so long as you stay. You will be warmly sent off, not empty-handed, but with a gift of whatever is available in the house.

Like all other human traits of the people of Punjab, their hospitality is also guileless, rare and intense. It is a ubiquitous theme of Punjabi folklore. When the crow, sitting atop the roof, crows, or dough when it is being kneaded bubbles, folk songs tell us that these are auspicious omens that mean a guest is on his way. There are several other sayings that speak of the pleasures derived by looking after visitors.

Good habitat, laughter, playfulness and love from the environment in which hospitality grows. May the culture of this blessed land of the five rivers perpetuate and ever grow.