Jallianwala Bagh

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Jallianwala Bagh
Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar 01.jpg
LocationAmritsar, Punjab, India
Coordinates31°37′14″N 74°52′50″E / 31.620521°N 74.880565°E / 31.620521; 74.880565Coordinates: 31°37′14″N 74°52′50″E / 31.620521°N 74.880565°E / 31.620521; 74.880565
Jallianwala Bagh is located in Punjab
Jallianwala Bagh
Location in Punjab, India
Jallianwala Bagh is located in India
Jallianwala Bagh
Jallianwala Bagh (India)

Jallianwala Bagh is a historic garden and ‘memorial of national importance’ in Amritsar, India, preserved in the memory of those wounded and killed in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that occurred on the site on the festival of Baisakhi, 13 April 1919.[1] It houses a museum, gallery and a number of memorial structures.[2]

The 7-acre (28,000 m2) garden site of the massacre is located in the vicinity of the Golden Temple complex, the holiest shrine of Sikhism[3] and is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, which was established as per the 'Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951'.[4]


Jallianwala Bagh or 'the garden of the Jallah-man', with its well, implies that it was once green and flowering. Over the years it had become popular as a recreation ground and an area of rest for those visiting the nearby Golden temple. In 1919, it was a dried out plot stretched to seven acres and was surrounded by tightly packed multi-occupancy buildings divided by some narrow gullies and holding only one narrow entrance and exit route.[3] It was unoccupied and surrounded by a wall.[5]

The place derives its name from that of the owner of this piece of land during the rule of the Sikh Empire. It was then the property of the family of Himmat Singh, who originally came from the village of Jalla district of the Punjab in India. The family were collectively known as Jallewalle.[3]


In 1919, in response to excluding Mahatma Gandhi from visiting Punjab, the secret deportation of Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satyapal on 10 April and the reactions to the Rowlatt Act, Punjab had witnessed attempts of Indians to gather and protest.[6] On the morning of Vaisakhi, 13 April 1919, to the beat of military drums by the cities town criers, 19 locations around the city were read out Brigadier General R.E.H. Dyer's new rules. He had placed restrictions on leaving the city without a permit, banned all "processions of any kind"[6] and any congregation of more than four people, and announced that "any person found in the streets after 8 pm will be shot".[6] However, the announcements came on a background of noise and unusual heat, missing key locations around the city, meaning that the notice was not widely disseminated. Dyer was subsequently informed at 12.40 pm that day, that a political gathering was to be held at Jallianwala Bagh.[6] One of the organisers was Hans Raj, who had accompanied Satyapal and Kitchlew just shy of their arrest and who later gave evidence in court as an approver.[7]

By 3.30 pm, 15 000 people had gathered, a mix of speakers, listeners, picnic makers and of men, women and children of all ages, including Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians.[8] Inhuman Dyer went with ninety Sikh, Gurkha, Baloch, Rajput troops from 2-9th Gurkhas, the 54th Sikhs and the 59th Sind Rifles and ordered them to fire towards the crowds.[9] More than 2500 were wounded or killed.[8]

As a result, in 1920, a Trust was formed with the aim of creating a memorial at the massacre site.[10] A number of the surrounding buildings were destroyed in the troubles of 1947.[11] In 1951, the government of India established the site as a ‘memorial of national importance’.[5]

The entrance[edit]

The entrance to Jallianwala Bagh is via a narrow passage, the same passage that was the only entry and exit point at the time of the massacre and the same route that General Dyer and his troops took to reach the grounds. At the entrance is a statue of Udham Singh. Once entered, 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 meditation area.[2]

The portico pillars, just inside the garden, represent Dyer's soldiers.[12]


During the massacre, there were no escape routes. The narrow passage was blocked by the army and people either ran towards the walls or jumped in the well.[2]

The 'Martyrs Well' is surrounded by a large structure[12] the Martyr's memorial,[2] with a sign giving a figure of "120" as the number of bodies that were recovered from the well.[12] It was designed by American architect Benjamin Polk and inaugurated in 1961.[10][13]

A number of the bullet holes in the walls are preserved.[14][15] One of the walls with a number of bullet holes has a plaque reading:

The wall has its own historic significance as it has thirty-six bullet marks which can be easily seen at present and these were fired into the crowd by the order of General Dyer. Moreover, no warning was given to disperse before Dyer opened fire which [sic] was gathered here against the Rowlatt Act. One Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Rounds were fired[2]

A number of other plaques are seen inside the garden, one of which reads:

This site is saturated with the blood of thousands of Indian patriots who were martyred in a nonviolent struggle to free India from British domination. General Dyer of the British army opened fire here on unarmed people. Jallianwala Bagh is thus an everlasting symbol of non-violent & peaceful struggle for the freedom of India[12]

The Flame of Liberty is represented by a central pylon.[12] It is white and shaped like a flame. Engraved are faces of 'martyrs' and below are given their names.[2]

The Martyr's gallery and museum[edit]

The Martyr's gallery contains a number of paintings including some of political leaders[2] and a painting of the inside of Jallianwala Bagh, showing a number of people dead on the ground. The addition to the painting of the Gurkha's was painted in at a later date.[12] A portrait of Udham Singh is on display in the gallery and his ashes are kept in the museum.[2]

Using newspaper clippings and letters from Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and others, 45 panels depicting the Amritsar massacre are displayed.[16]

The Trust[edit]

The initial Trustees of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial were named as

In November 2019, The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill was passed by Parliament in an attempt to seek the removal of the President of the Indian National Congress as a trustee.[17][18]

Site visits[edit]

Since the massacre, Jallianwala Bagh has been the site of a number of official and publicized visits. One of the earliest was during the public enquiry by the Indian Congress, when Jawaharlal Nehru visited the site in the immediate aftermath of the massacre. His investigation revealed 64 bullets in one part of the wall.[19]

The site was visited by the Queen Elizabeth II in 1961, 1983 and 1997, and British Prime Minister David Cameron visited in 2013. During Prince William and Kate's official visit to India, Jallianwala Bagh was not on their itinerary.[20] Others from Britain include Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London in 2017,[20] and Dominic Asquith[21] and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby in 2019.[22]

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the grounds in 2015[15] and politician Kiren Rijiju visited in 2016 as part of an Indo-Pak border visit.[23] Proposed renovations to Jallianwala Bagh were presented to India’s vice president Venkaiah Naidu, the governor of Punjab V.P. Singh Badnore and other officials when they visited the site in April 2019 to attend a commemoration ceremony organised by the Ministry of Culture.[16] Other visitors in 2019 included Rahul Gandhi.[24]



  1. ^ Anita Goyal and Aastha K Singhania (2019). Voices from Punjab: The strength and resilience of 15 Punjabi women living in the UK. Matador. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-83859-133-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Datta, Nonica (13 April 2019). "Why Popular Local Memory of Jallianwala Bagh Doesn't Fit the National Narrative". The Wire. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Anand, Anita The Patient Assassin (2019). pp.99
  4. ^ a b Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act. ACT NO. 25 OF 1951. 1st May, 1951.
  5. ^ a b Hazra, Indrajit (13 April 2019). "Memorialising, and Remembering, Jallianwala Bagh". The Economic Times. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Anand, Anita The Patient Assassin (2019). pp.97-98
  7. ^ Wagner, Kim. Amritsar 1919 p.203
  8. ^ a b Anand, Anita (2015). Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 331–334. ISBN 9781408835463.
  9. ^ Collett, Nigel (2007). The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer. London: Hambledon Continuum. pp. 256–259. ISBN 978-1852855758.
  10. ^ a b "Mayor calls for formal apology for Jallianwala Bagh Massacre". London City Hall. 16 December 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  11. ^ Nehru, Jawaharlal (1991). Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru: without special title. Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Wagner, Kim. Amritsar 1919 p.264
  13. ^ Seneviratna, Anuradha; Polk, Benjamin (1992). Buddhist Monastic Architecture in Sri Lanka: The Woodland Shrines. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 9788170172819.
  14. ^ Gopinath, P. Krishna (6 April 2019). "A visit to Jallianwala Bagh, where the bullet marks are still raw". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  15. ^ a b "PM Modi pays tributes to martyrs at Jallianwala Bagh". The Economic Times. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  16. ^ a b Vice President Venkaiah Naidu remembers martyrs at Jallianwala Bagh memorial on 100th anniversary. India Today (April 2019).
  17. ^ Saha, Poulomi (18 November 2019). "Parliament Winter Session begins today: From Citizenship Bill to slowdown, what's in store". India Today. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by the Parliament". Jagranjosh.com. 20 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  19. ^ Tharoor, Shashi. Nehru: The Invention of India. Arcade Publishing (2003). New York. First edition. p. 33. ISBN 9781559706971
  20. ^ a b "Jallianwala Bagh Massacre - Hansard". hansard.parliament.uk. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Jallianwala Bagh massacre centenary: Deep regret for what happened, says British envoy". The Economic Times. 13 April 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  22. ^ "I am sorry: Archbishop of Canterbury apologizes for Jallianwala Bagh massacre". India Today. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Kiren Rijiju visits India-Pakistan border, Jallianwala Bagh". The Economic Times. 31 January 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  24. ^ Hariharan, Revathi (13 April 2019). "100 Years of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: Rahul Gandhi Pays Tribute At Jallianwala Bagh Memorial: Highlights". NDTV.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.


Further reading[edit]

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