Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Punjab

Chandigarh is some five hours by road north of Delhi and became the capital of the Indian Punjab following partition. The subsequent growth of the city was heavily controlled by planning restrictions on a grid pattern and consequently is far more navigable by road than most other destinations in India.
I visited in 2001 and explored the strange rock gardens with sculptures made from junk which was strangely impressive but despite being outdoors the narrow walled walkways made it quite oppressive in the heat.



The central area though has a very impressive and cooling waterfall feature.





The large museum is well worth a visit and has many statues and an extensive art and textiles collection.






More on Chandigarh:
http://www.answers.com/topic/chandigarh

Jalandhar is a large industrial town some 400 kilometres north-west of Delhi on Highway 1 (about 8 hours by car). This wasn’t somewhere on my list of places to visit but it is a reasonably convenient stopping off point for a journey to Amritsar, especially when you’ve received an invite to a wedding reception in the town!

So it was a long Friday evening drive to Jalandhar and on Saturday morning after too little sleep another two hours in the car for the relatively short 100 kilometre journey onwards to Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple.

Amritsar was founded in 1574 by Guru Ram Das and construction of the Golden Temple commenced in 1588, completing in 1601. The first volume of the Sikh scriptures was completed and placed in the temple three years later.

After removing your shoes, covering your head and washing the temple compound can be entered through one of the narrow access ways through the surrounding temple complex.






The temple sits in the centre of a large reservoir and is accessed from one side by a large walkway.


















A gateway is used to control the flow of the crowds onto the narrow walkway to access the temple where unfortunately no photography is allowed.
Some of the locals though are quite happy to be photographed!







A short walk from the Golden Temple is the Jallianwala Bagh the scene of brutal repression of protests against the Rowlatt Act by the British in 1911.
The enclosed gardens saw (according to official figures) 379 killed and 1200 wounded, and some of the bullet holes have been “preserved” in a slightly bizarre fashion.





The gardens are nicely laid out with a central memorial and seemed very popular despite the history.
The enclosed space still has very limited access today by narrow walkways and the garden has a memorial “hall” with paintings of the events that made the gardens infamous.


Gobindgarh Fort is a little unusual being mid-18th century and constructed in brick. When I visited in 2004 it was still occupied by the Indian military and while access was granted by the commanding officer (we literally drove up to the gates and asked!), no photography was allowed. They seemed particularly happy to show me the cells (maybe I wasn’t quite polite enough), “Dyer’s” bungalow (the officer who ordered the shooting in Jallianwalla Bagh, and where the gallows had stood. The fort was handed over to the civil authorities in 2008 and should be easier to visit nowadays!

The main musuem in Amritsar is housed in the former summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.










The museum is set in some nice gardens and has an impressive arms and armour collection together with a reasonable collection of paintings, coins and manuscripts. Although the surrounding walls are long gone the Palace still retains it’s impressuve gatehouse.


The most significant ones are the paintings of the city of Lahore with all its elegant structures, and of the Maharaja visiting the Golden Temple.


We returned to Jalandhar for the wedding ceremony of the son of Aviva’s Chief Actuary KK Wadhwa which took place at a wedding “palace”.








The ceremonies last at least for the day and the latter stages are a large event and many wedding “palaces” can be seen stretched along the roads around most major towns and cities.
The groom arrives on a small pony and accompanied by a band heralding his journey.

The newly married couple with KK and the actuarial team from Aviva.

While there is LOTS of food the proceedings are “dry” although I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the gathering of “Uncles” who were all very generous in sharing their supplies of Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Punjab photo collection:


More on Jalandhar:
http://www.answers.com/topic/jalandhar

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