The Golden Temple

Amritsar, Punjab

Sri Harmandar sahib also called as 'Golden temple'  or 'Darbar Sahib', is the most important pilgrimage site for Sikhism. Located in Amritsar , in north west India ,this Sikh temple has seen centuries of history , faith, conflict , destruction and has been reconstructed to its present form today.

The foundation of the Gurudwara was laid in 1589AD. by the 5th guru of Sikhism , Guru Arjan Dev. The Adi Granth- the holy scripture of Sikhism ,was placed inside the temple in 1604. The pool of water around which the temple stands was built in 1577 AD. The Gurudwara is unique , it is built as an open house of worship and has entrances in all four directions, signifying the openness towards everyone without discrimination. The temple is also  built on lower level compared to the city to emphasize humility and need to let go off ego before entering the premises to meet the Guru.

The golden temple houses a collection of buildings of significance. The clock tower, Akal Takht – the central religious authority of Sikhism, a museum , offices and Langar - a communal kitchen that serves food round the clock..

The temple itself is in the center of the pool, called 'Amrit Saras'.  Amritsar derives its name from Amrit Saras. Over 100000 people visit the shrine daily for worship.

The first version of temple was completed in 1604, and Guru Arjan dev called it a shrine of 68 pilgrimages. In 1606 , Guru Arjan Dev was arrested on orders of Emperor Jehangir and killed. Before Ranjit singh reconstructed the temple with copper and marble in 1809, the golden temple was witness to mutiny , execution and destruction multiple times. In 1830 Ranjit Singh donated gold to overlay the dome with gold foil.

The inner sanctum of the temple is connected to the outside platform by a marble causeway. It is square and double storied with sikh scripture ‘Guru Granth sahib’ at the lower floor and the upper floor has a gallery .The doors of the sanctum is beautiful gold foiled , the roof of the dome are jeweled and inscribed and around the temple one can notice colorful nature motifs inscribed on the marble. In front of the sanctum is the Akal Takht building, which is the center of authority in Sikhism.

The clock tower has its entrance on the north side and has a clock and houses a museum on its upper floor. On the east side of the courtyard is the Harmandir sahib complex that serves the Langar,  a community run free kitchen and dining hall.

Many believers take a dip in the Amrit saras, which is believed to have powers, purifying one’s karma.

The kar seva ethos is the centre of running the operations in gurudwaras. Volunteers or kar-sevaks take care of the cleanliness of the pool, the temple at large and the serving of the langars.

The services ,the basic construction of Golden temple are based on egalitarian principles where everyone is equal and welcome.

Also Read : Behind the scenes. Golden Temple