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Who should be blamed for keeping Amritsar dirty and robbing tourist?

  • Miscreants tried to snatch NRI woman’s gold chain. She fell from the rickshaw and died.
  • Daya Shankar and his wife Feroza, was coming out of the Golden Temple after paying obeisance when they were robbed of their cash and gold.
  • Amritsar DC KS Pannu said, the state government is serious about making the Holy City a major tourist destination but I am waiting funds to be released by the Govt.

Los Angeles, Feb. 28, 2008
Gary Singh,

Amritsar is known for its tourist and pilgrimage land mark, the Golden Temple. We believed that as a place of religious devotion it would be a smooth transition to the more bustle full and notoriously noisy Indian cities.

Tourists are being Mugged every week, what a Disgrace. Amritsar used to be one of the cleanest and most beautiful cities of India. It was a well-planned city with gardens, orchards and drains all around the walled city and proper places for the dumping of garbage.

The Govt. meant for providing civic amenities and maintenance of law and order are hardly paying any attention towards the needs of the citizens. Roadsides, lands, parks are being encroached upon recklessly and municipal bye-laws exist only on paper.

The electrical and sanitary fittings are broken, polythene bags and garbage are spread all over and wild grass growth is rampant.The residents alleged that trolleys belonging to the corporation were throwing garbage everyday in the area, instead of dumping the garbage in the dumping ground. It is also said that the suspended particulate matter (SPM) in Ludhiana is about 250 to 300 mg per cubic metre and Amritsar it ranges from 350 to 400 mg per cubic metre cube against the acceptable upper limit of 200 mg per cubic metre.

The Golden Temple is the Sikh's most holy site and as soon as you enter the compound you realise why. Entrance is through a huge white marble pillared building/palace, into a massive 'courtyard' of white marble walkways centred around a holy lake which surrounds the Golden Temple. Such a contrast to the dirty city outside - was a sensory delight walking barefoot (no shoes allowed, headscarves needed) onto the clean, cool marble floors with a cool breeze floating off the lake and the temple glowing gold against the rising sun.

Voluntary service is an integral part of the Sikh religion. A prominent aspect of this service is seen in Gurudwara kitchens, where Sikhs serve food to all, removing destinations between caste, colour or creed. Sikhs are not evangelical about their religion, they let it talk for itself.

The golden temple feels special. Unlike the impersonal, cold and dark cathedrals of Christianity that are more spooky than spiritual, there is a celestial atmosphere, an aura of peace on the Golden Temple; it's the sort of place God would chill out in. Surrounding the Sarowar, the 'pool of nectar' is a marble walkway. Pilgrims generally walk clockwise around it (although this does not seem to be as rigid as with the Tibet circumbulation of their stupas). In the central of the Sarowar is the Hari Mandir, the Golden Temple itself. The bottom is constructed with inlaid marble, whilst the top is covered with gold, reflected in the pool below.

It was easy to find peace, sitting by the pool, staring at the Hari Mandir, listening to the Kirtan.

Read Below:

No safety at ‘Sifti da Ghar’
Amritsar. February 25, 2008
By Dharmendra Rataul

A Mumbai-based couple, Daya Shankar and his wife Feroza, was coming out of the Golden Temple after paying obeisance when they were robbed of their cash and gold.

* February 2008: An NRI couple went out to dine at a local restaurant after visiting the Golden Temple when miscreants tried to snatch woman’s gold chain. She fell from the rickshaw and died.

* January 2008: When a Jalandhar-based family protested overcharging at a parking lot at Dharam Singh Market, a group of goons thrashed its men.

These unholy happenings have shocked the visitors to the Holy City, which is anything but safe for thousands of tourists and pilgrims.

So pathetic is the situation that taxi drivers, parking lot contractors, beggars and anti-social elements do not miss an opportunity to fleece the pilgrims. The Tourists’ Centre, to be developed by the state government near Railway Station to provide information on site-seeing in and around the city, is just a dirty make-shift room, which doubles up as a public lavatory. There is no place from where tourists can get help for hiring taxis or avail vital information for tourist destinations.

Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) local head Gunbir Singh said the Golden Temple attracts more visitors than Taj Mahal daily. “And then there is Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple, Ram Tirath Temple and the much-loved Attari border post, where the daily Retreat Ceremony, jointly by the Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force is a rare treat,” he said, adding that the facilities for the tourists were zilch, and they often fall prey to the touts of hoteliers.

Traffic congestion, absence of public transport and piles of dirt and garbage in every nook and corner of the city make it unwelcoming for the tourists, whose number had seen a surge following the start of international flights from Rajasansi International Airport.

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) state convener Dr Sukhdev Singh said Amritsar should be developed as a major tourist destination and tourism circuits linked with Faridkot, Bathinda and Patiala, which have rich cultural heritage, should be promoted. “But there seems no political will. We had often taken up the matter of providing basic facilities to the tourists with the government, but to no avail,” he said.

He added that the district administration has also failed to completely acquire the Gobindgarh Fort, which can be developed as a major tourist attraction as it showcases the rich history of the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Dr Harkanwaljit Singh, a Guru Nanak Dev University professor and member of Intach, narrating a story, said when he was travelling to Delhi by a train recently, his co-passenger, a Korean who had entered India through Attari, said he wanted to visit some tourists places, but there was no information centre here. “He had heard about the Golden Temple and even Jallianwala Bagh and had one full day to spare for sight-seeing, but as there was no help, he spent the day sitting at the railway platform and took an evening train to Delhi,” he said.

However, the Tourism Police concept, an initiative by SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, is the only redeeming factor. “The concept is seen as a positive step,” said Gunbir Singh.

Amritsar DC KS Pannu said apart from the Tourism Police, they had various other projects in mind, which would see light of the day as soon as funds were released. “The state government is serious about making the Holy City a major tourist destination,” he said.