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Amritsar (əmrĭtˈsər) [key], city (1991 pop. 709,456), Punjab state, NW India. It is a district administrative center, as well as a trade and industrial city where carpets, fabrics of goat hair, and handicrafts are made. The center of the Sikh religion (see Sikhism), Amritsar was founded in 1577 by Ram Das, the fourth guru [Hindustani, = teacher], on land given by Akbar. The Golden Temple (refurbished 1802), set in the center of a lake, is especially sacred to Sikhs. The city was the center of a Sikh empire in the early 19th cent., and modern Sikh nationalism was founded there. Khalsa College, a branch of Punjab Univ., is in Amritsar. The first Amritsar massacre took place in the Jalianwala Bagh, an enclosed park, in Apr., 1919; hundreds of Indian nationalists were killed and thousands wounded when troops under British control fired upon them. The second massacre occurred June, 1984, when Indian troops, opposing a militant Sikh separatist movement, shot their way into the Golden Temple, killing more than 400 people inside.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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