Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden in Amritsar city in the north Indian state of Punjab. It is a site which holds national importance, as it stands as a memorial to all the Indians who lost their lives during an open-fire by notorious British General Dyer in 1919.
It is a 7-acre (28,000 m2) garden site that also houses a museum, gallery and various memorial structures. The garden is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, which was established by India’s central government.
The garden actually derives its name from that of the owner of the land on which it stands, during the rule of the Sikh Empire (1799 – 1849) in the region. It was the property a royal family that originally came from Jalla district of the Punjab in India, and were also referred to as Jallewalle.
But it also has a deeper meaning - Jallianwala Bagh or 'the garden of the Jallah-man', implies that it was once green and flowering, until the massacre happened.
It was a dried-out plot surrounded by tightly packed buildings divided by some narrow lanes and holding only one narrow entrance and exit route. Other parts are surrounded by a wall, and during the massacre on 13 April 1919, the only entry and exit were sealed by British soldiers on the orders of General Dyer, after which bullets were shot into the crowd of Indians (who had gathered there to protest peacefully against the arrest of two pro-Indian independence leaders) his soldiers until their ammunition was exhausted, killing around 379 people and seriously injuring more than 1200). A lot of people, mostly children, had apparently jumped into the well inside the garden to save themselves.
Parts of Jallianwala Bagh were restored and recreated years after the massacre, but memories of the incident are kept alive through bullet marks that can be seen on some walls here.
The entrance to Jallianwala Bagh is still a narrow passage - the same that had been the only entry and exit point at the time of the massacre, which was blocked by the British soldiers to stop people from escaping.
At the entrance is a statue of Udham Singh – a known figure from Punjab in the Indian Independence movement during British Raj. Inside, some old trees can be seen in the garden with some buildings at the back. With the words 'Vande Mataram', a flame titled 'Amar Jyoti' is seen burning to the right under a domed area.
Some bushes among the grassy lawns and flowery shrubs are sculpted into the shape of armed soldiers. A red tower-like structure commemorates the happenings of that fateful day. There are also some portico pillars in the garden which are supposed to represent General Dyer’s soldiers who carried out the firings.
There is also a well inside the garden – the one in which people jumped to avoid getting fired; and a memorial that is dedicated to the massacre victims.
Jallianwala Bagh is open to public from 6.30 AM to 7.30 PM every day. The entry to the site is free of cost.
A light and sound show is hosted each day, that begins at 7 PM in Summers and 5 PM during the Winters. The whole site is beautifully lighted up and stories are narrated in 3 languages – English, Hindi and Punjabi. It narrates the happenings from the perspective of people who have seen/experienced it or were alive during the time – and provides a soul stirring experience.
Amritsar can be reached easily by: