Friday, July 19, 2024

Amritsar needs an attractive Museum


Harjap Singh Aujla

In its four hundred plus year history Amritsar has seen several destructions and resurrections. At one time Ahmad Shah Abdali destroyed the soul of this great city, by desecration of the holy Golden Temple. The 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan dealt sever economic blows to this city. The 1980 to 1995 period of militancy dealt the last and the most deadly blow to the industry of this great city. Not only its industry, but its wholesale trade also could not recover so far. But the holy city has the unique ability to bounce back from every crisis big or small.

Since the dawn of the new millennium the economy of Amritsar has found a new avenue to survive. Now it has started bouncing back not as an industrial city, but a tourist city. Several star category hotels belonging to some of the most popular international chains have sprung up in this city. But to survive, they need more footfall and prolonged stay in the hotels. The people of Amritsar think that it is place for religious tourism. Of course primarily, it is a place for religious tourism, but the non-Sikh tourists, like the European, Japanese and Americans their need are different. They want to see some non-religious tourist attractions too. Zoological Gardens with peacocks, tigers, lions and elephants and museums are very popular with the foreign tourists. Some tourists do not hesitate to spend a whole day in a museum, if they like the exhibited stuff.

India’s film industry in terms of its dollar value is next only to the Hollywood filmdom. In terms of number of films produced, India ranks the highest. Since the early days of its film industry (1931), India has produced the biggest number of movies. India has also introduced its finest beauties to its filmdom. Amritsar, which sits next doors to Punjab’s erstwhile film city of Lahore, is an appropriate location to house a film pictorial museum. Amritsar has also produced some of the best known playback singers like Shamshad Begum, Mohammad Rafi and Mohinder Kapoor. Hindi film Superstar Rajesh Khanna belonged to Amritsar and Dev Anand was a product of Gurdaspur. Other than Calcutta and Bombay, in the pre 1947 days, the twin cities of Amritsar and Lahore had the highest number of cinema halls between them.

The museum does not need to be in the heart of the city. Located on a highway, even ten miles outside the city, with a nice spacious parking area, one high-end restaurant and one budget eatry, it can flourish in the city of Amritsar. The business community of the city should pool its resources to build a state of the art, but otherwise traditional in style film museum for Amritsar. A lot of pictures of the past and present film personalities are available in the poster shops of Bombay and in the old photography shops. These can be procured for display, some can be converted into paintings through local talent. The beauty of a museum is in the art of display. Amritsar needs such a museum for the healthy growth of its tourism.


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