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Himalaya

Day 30: Amritsar

Amritsar, India 
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In the Jallianwala Bagh. 13 framed bullet holes on the walls are said to date back to the Amritsar Massacre of 1919.
Michael Palin - HimalayaOn one roundabout is a statue of a dashing figure in a theatrical moustache, a puja garland around his neck, running forward pointing a gun. This celebrates the assassin Udham Singh, who shot and killed Sir Michael O'Dwyer, a hated governor of the Punjab, in London in 1940.

Around the next corner is a statue to S. C. Bose, who felt so strongly about getting the British out of India that he tried to ally his Indian National Army with the Germans and Japanese in the Second World War. A half-mile further on is the alleyway leading to the Jallianwala Bagh, where 400 peacefully but illegally protesting Indians were massacred on the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer in April 1919, an outrage considered by many to mark the beginning of the end of British rule. Today the site is a park where a sacred flame burns, sponsored by Indian Oil.

The complex of buildings that contains the Golden Temple is called a Gurudwara (Gateway to the Gurus), the name given to all places of worship of the 20 million or so Sikhs in India. This, the holiest and grandest of them all, dominates the centre of Amritsar, its balconied, white stucco facade and flamboyantly domed roof rising exotically above a clutter of stalls, billboards, shops and crowded pavements where groups of Dalits ('the oppressed') squat inches from the traffic.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 30: Amritsar
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Amritsar
  • Book page no: 66

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