Amritsar will soon have a heritage village to showcase its culture, cuisine and lifestyle

A goldsmith working intricate patterns on the metal, a potter gently shaping his earthenware while a mini-mela (village fair) is in progress; a jolly ride on the tonga; artists performing nukkad natak and bhangra and delectable Punjabi cuisine to be savoured! If everything goes as planned, Amritsar will have all this and much more in its very own heritage village by mid next year.

Work’s on in full swing to complete the project offering people a flavour of the quintessential Punjabi village with its traditional lifestyle, culture, food, artifacts, jewellery, crockery and even dwellings with an aim to prolong tourists’ stay in the holy city.

The 12-crore project which started in 2010 is a result of a MoU between Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board and the city-based Guru Nanak Dev University. The Central and the State governments have provided the funds.

Since Amritsar is widely regarded the focal point of tourism in Punjab, with the Golden Temple and the flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah Border attracting thousands every day, it is hoped this heritage village -- located on the bypass road on the outskirts of the city for the convenience of visitors returning from Wagah -- will prove to be an added attraction.

“The purpose is to retain a tourist for at least three nights in Amritsar. We are trying to bring alive a village of the 1950s. It will not be a lived-in village. However, we will have blacksmiths, goldsmiths, carpenters, paranda (hair accessory)-makers going about their work, even as women are engrossed in their household chores and the men wrestle it out in the akhara (wrestling arena). We will also recreate a chaupal (community space), barat ghar, dak ghar (post office) and a sarpanch’s (village headman) house in a typical village,” says local tourism officer Balraj Singh.

The University that has provided the 10-acre land has decided to set up a research centre within the heritage village for promotion of studies on Punjabi culture. While the tourism department is constructing the buildings and dealing with the civil work, and its officials along with the University professors comprise the monitoring committee tasked to oversee the overall functioning, a private operator will run the complex.

“We will try and complete the structure, comprising 16 big buildings including the ‘houses’ of people from different communities (farmer, potter, carpenter), and ticketing and administration block by January 2013. Thereafter, a tender will be floated to select a private operator who will then complete the interiors in the next six months. We are hoping the village will be fully functional by June-July 2013,” informs a senior tourism official. “A block of 21 guest rooms will also be built for those wishing to spend a night,” he adds.