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Punjab

Punjab

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Punjab, the land of five rivers and integrated cultural history, is a treasure trove for an avid tourist. For this land of the great gurus not only boasts of ancient monuments but throbs with historical  embodiments. It is no secret that whoever comes to this land of yellow fields with blue mountains providing the romantic and picturesque backdrop has never gone back without imbibing the essence of Punjab.

There is no dearth of breathtaking palaces, for Punjab was the seat of royalty, as the imposing Quila Mubarak  will tell you. Museums galore and so are the religious   places with the Golden Temple offering succour to the mind and soul of any one  visiting. If you are a wild life freak, then   Punjab can take you on a tour of the sanctuaries, which are hot favourites with migratory birds. Since this state borders Pakistan, there are two main posts from which you can peep into the land that was once an integral part of Punjab and  experience the feelings of the people separated by a line. The much truncated India's portion of present Punjab is divided into three natural regions :the Majha,the Doaba and the Malwa

The Heritage

Archaeological Destinations

Due to its rigorous past the best part of ancient Punjab is either in its ruins or underground. At Ropar, called Roop Nagar (the town of beauty is olden times) evidence of Harappan culture of Indus Valley Civilisation and relics of Alexander's Army have been discovered.

The excavations at Dholbaha, the ancient temple town at Hoshiarpur takes back its antiquity to the Pleistocene period of stone age man and shows evidence of continued development of civilisation right down of the 7th and 8th century A.D.The museum containing these relics is situated in Hoshiarpur city.

 

Ghuram, Patiala District :  The first seat of Muslim Empire in India and the reputed birth place of Mata Kaushalya has ruins which show it is as a great enterpot, the archaeological digs are beginning to reveal indications of the epic age civilisation.

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

 

Forts

Govindgarh Fort Amritsar : early 19th century designed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.Has special defence mechanism against artillery attacks, which were frequent when Punjab was still open to depredations of the Afghan hordes. Being with paramilitary forces it is not open to visitors now.

Bathinda Fort : Schooner shaped fort stands like a ship in a sea of sand; design eminently suited to the desert environment; is reputed to be 1800 years old. It is said to have been built by Bhatti Reo.

In 1754 AD it was captured by Maharaj Ala Singh of Patiala. A small gurdwara commemorates the visit of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji here.

Faridkot Fort : 30 Km south of Ferozepur. Reputed to be 700 years old, noteworthy for the hall of mirrors and wall paintings called Sheesh Mahals these halls of mirrors were copied in Rajasthan style and were actually the prayer rooms of the ruling family.

 

Qila Mubark Patiala, founded in1764 by Maharaja Ala Singh. It was originally a kuchi-garhi of a mud fort which was later raised into a sprawling double storied structure with a massive gate having beautiful arches. The best part of the fort is a museum now.

Bhadurgarh Fort  6 kms from Patiala, originally founded by Nawab Saif Khan in 1658. The present fort was built by Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala in 1837. It has two circular ramparts and is surrounded by a moat and covers an area of 2100 sq meters. This rather compact but nicely designed citadil is in the custody of the Department of police.

Anandpur Sahib Fort, Ropar : Anandpur Sahib was defended by fiveforts. They have all become victims of the ravages of war and time. The central fort Anandgarh Sahib is still extant in parts. Its highlight is the deep well approached by a flight of stairs.

 

Phillaur Fort, Ludhiana was designed by Dewan Mohkam Chand,the brave general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh facing the, then, British border along Ludhiana.it is police training centre now.

Shahpur Kandi Fort,7 Km from Pathankot: This 16th century fort nestles at the foot of the towering Himalayas and overlooks the river Ravi. Is a comfortable rest-house now.

Fair and Festivals

Religious Fairs

Hola Mohalla, (National Fair) Anandpur Sahib: 90 km from Chandigarh. Mid-March immediately after the festival of Holi.The 10thProphet of the Sikhs, Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji had started this fair in 1700-AD. To the traditional festival of the colours, Holi, he added spiritual and martial dimensions. The fair begins a few days before Holi & is marked by the congregation of Sikh from all over the State, who arrive on trucks and tractors. A large number of 'Langars' (community kitchen) offer free food to the poor and the rich alike.The day after Holi, called Hola, begins with the singing of the divine hymns in the ambrosial hours of very early morning. With the dawning of the day the Nihangs called the Guru's beloved force and a colourful sects of the Sikhs come centre-stage. They still wear traditional robes and armour of blue and saffron colours and all steel. They tie conical rising double turbans inter-laced with steel chakras (quoits) and steel rosaries, a cutlass daughing at the waist and a sword. (sometimes also a lance) clutched in the right hand. They take out a procession riding their stallions. When they reach the bed of an old seasonal river Charan Ganga they perform feats of martial valour such as riding, two horses with one foot on the back of each and a weight balanced on their heads, fencing and enacting of mock battles. The splendorous pageant strikes as a fascinating novelty.

Bhangra- Folk Dance of Punjab State of India

Baisaki National Fair (April), Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda: It is another unique Punjabi fair, which tempers gay abandon with deep devotion. Dancing men and women, on the day of Baisakhi, emerge singing and dancing from the surrounding villages carrying a portion of the first harvest of wheat. Everyone is seen to be proceeding to the historical gurudwara to make an offering of it. Calm descends every where when they approach the Gurudwara and make their obeisance offerings. Devotees from far off places run free kitchens here. The next day is taken over by the Nihangs and their awe-inspiring feats of the martial arts.

RAM TIRATH AMRITSAR , National Fair 4 days starting on night of the full-moon in November.

The Chhapaar Mela Village Chhapaar ( Ludhiana) : It is celebrated every September to propitiate, Guga or Goga-the Zahir Pir. He is described as the Lord of the snakes. Snake poison is neutralised by his grace and barren women are blessed with off springs. Thousands of devotees take Guga Pir in a procession, common participation of the people of different sects in this fair works it out as a unifying force.

Fatehgarh Sahib: Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib Jor Mela.(December)

Mukatsar Maghi Fair: on the occasion of Makar Sankranti in January every year.

Baba Bakala:every amavas (moonless night) and on the day of Raksha Bandhan a very big fair is organised.

LUDHIANA: Jarag Mela

Dera Baba Nanak, Gurudaspur: Jor Mela eve of Maghi-second week of January.

Kartarpur: Jalandhar : Gurudwara Thumb Sahib, Maghi, January

Ludhiana : Gurudwara Manji Sahib Alamgir: (14-15, 16 posh last week of December)

Gurudwara Nanaksar Jagraon, Ludhiana – Barsi,Five day function (August)

Bhagwathi Temple – Maiser Khanna Bathinda twice a year.

Kali Temple Kapurthala A Mela is organised every year.

Qadian, Gurdaspur: Urs, last week of December

Rauza Sharif, Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib: Urs in August

Other Fairs and Festivals

Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan, Devi Talab, Jalandhar National Fair, every December. Started by Baba Harballabh in the memory of his Guru Swami Tulja Giri in 1875. It is the only music fair of its type in India and even, abroad. The best of the country's exponents of instrumental and vocal music deem their careers incomplete unless they come and perform here. Also, great people from all walks of life look forward to attending this gathering. In 1929, Mahatma Gandhi had attended this fair.

Rural Sports, National Fair (February), Kila Raipur, 6Km from Ludhiana This meet or the fair epitomises the special Punjabi bon homie and the spirit that never says die, ingenious for finding competition and pleasure from ordinary things of life. Bullock carts and other animal races, awe inspiring feats of strength and danger, the traditional wrestling, cock-fighting, kabbadi and jumps and races, the meet is wound up with the electrifying dances of the Punjab, the Gidha and the Bhangra.

Martyrs - Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev & Rajguru Fair The Fair to honour their memory is held on March 23rd every year at the site of the memorial in Ferozepur. Large gathering of people, here, is then addressed by freedom fighters and the leaders of Punjab and India who highlight the sacrifices these patriots have made to free India from the yoke of the British.

Prof. Mohan Singh Mela, Ludhiana It is a unique fair of cultural confluence of Punjabi artists, writers and folk performers- kind of a feast which may , again, be called typically Punjabi. Alongside this cultural extravaganza noted writers and artists are honoured for their contribution to the promotion of Punjabi literature, language and culture.

Wetlands and Wildlife

Hari-ke-pattan, Amritsar, National Wetland & Wildlife Sanctuary It is one of the India's most important lakes ; in winters (November-onwards) it becomes a welcome home to nearly 350 species of migratory birds, coming from as far as Siberia. It is also one of India's leading in-land sweet water fish market and home of varied wild life.

Kanjli Wetland, Kapurtala Maharaja of Kapurthala had built a lake after making a barrage on river Kali Bein. Many rivulet discharges into this river and a beautiful lake is still there. On the left side of lake lies a green forest with some wildlife. Maharaja had built a retreat called The Villa on French design on the banks of this lake. The present descendant of Maharaja uses as their residence. The lake is a beautiful home of migratory birds in winters, has been developed as a still more beautiful picnic spot with all the infrastructure facilities. The tourist can go for boating in this lake.

Warning Tigers Can Look At You!

Satluj Water Body Wetland, Ropar Over 250 species of migratory birds have been spotted here. 30 km of crystal clear water in scenic surroundings makes it a popular spot for angling, kayaking, canoeing, boating and long distance swimming.

Zoological Park Chhatbir: 20 km from Chandigarh and 55 km from Patiala spread over 202 Acres of raw scrubland, it houses 52 species of animal and 62species of birds in a simulated natural habitat. It is famous for its Lion Safari and is the biggest park of its type in India. Tiger Safari near Ludhiana and a Deer Park at Neelon on Ludhiana- Chandigarh road are also worth visiting