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Golden Temple

Golden Temple

Harmandir Sahib Pilgrimage Site

The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib also referred to as the Golden Temple , is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab (India). Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev. In 1604, Guru Arjan Dev completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the Gurdwara. In 1634, Guru Hargobind left Amritsar for the Shivalik Hills and for the remainder of the seventeenth century the city and gurdwara was in the hands of forces hostile to the Sikh Gurus. During the eighteenth century, the Harmandir Sahib was the site of frequent fighting between the Sikhs on one side and either Mughal or Afghan forces on the other side and the gurdwara occasionally suffered damage. In the early nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and English name of " Golden Temple ".

 

 

Guru Arjan Sahib, the Fifth Nanak, conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and he himself designed the architecture of Sri Harmandir Sahib. Earlier the planning to excavate the holy tank (Amritsar or Amrit Sarovar ) was chalked out by Guru Amardas Sahib, the Third Nanak, but it was executed by Guru Ramdas Sahib under the supervision of Baba Budha ji. The land for the site was acquired by the earlier Guru Sahibs on payment or free of cost from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. The plan to establish a town settlement was also made. Therefore, the construction work on the Sarovar(the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The work on both projects completed in 1577 A.D. 

Guru Arjan Sahib got its foundation laid by a muslim saint Hazrat Mian Mir ji of Lahore on 1st of Magh, 1645 Bikrmi Samvat(December,1588). The construction work was directly supervised by Guru Arjan Sahib himself and he was assisted by the prominent Sikh personalities like Baba Budha ji, Bhai Gurdas ji, Bhai Sahlo ji and many other devoted Sikhs.
Unlike erecting the structure on the higher level(a tradition in Hindu Temple architecture), Guru Arjan Sahib got it built on the lower level and unlike Hindu Temples having only one gate for the entrance and exit, Guru Sahib got it open from four sides. Thus he created a symbol of new faith, Sikhism. Guru Sahib made it accessible to every person without any distinction of Caste, creed, sex and religion. 

The building work completed in 1601 A.D. on Bhadoon Sudi 1st, 1661 Bikrmi Samvat (August/September,1604). Guru Arjan Sahib installed newly created Guru Granth Sahib, in Sri Harmandir Sahib and appointed Baba Budha ji as its first Granthi i.e. the reader of Guru Granth Sahib. After this event it attained the status of 'Ath Sath Tirath'. Now the Sikh Nation had their own Tirath, a pilgrimage center

Sri Harmandir Sahib, is built on a 67ft. square platform in the centre of the Sarovar(tank).

The temple itself is 40.5ft. square. It has a door each on the East, West, North and South. The Darshani Deori (an arch) stands at the shore end of the causeway.

The door frame of the arch is about 10ft in height and 8ft 6inches in breath. The door panes are decorated with artistic style. It opens on to the causeway or bridge that leads to the main building of Sri Harmandir Sahib. It is 202 feet in length and 21 feet in width.

What to See

Despite its great sacred status, the Golden Temple is  open to visitors , like all Sikh temples. The only restrictions are that visitors must not drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke in the shrine. And unlike many other Indian temples, visitors to the Harmandir Sahib are made to feel truly welcome and not pressured to buy anything. The information office left of the main gate gives helpful advice and information, as well as booklets on Sikhism.

Most visitors to the Golden Temple, whether Sikh or not, are humbled by what is quite simply the most  tangibly spiritual place  in the country. Arrive with a few good hours set aside and get lost in its magical beauty. Visitors must leave their shoes at the facility near the entrance, cover their head (bandanas are provided, or you can buy a souvenir bandana from a vendor), and wash their feet by wading through the shallow pool before entering.

The most famous and sacred part of the Golden Temple complex is the  Hari Mandir (Divine Temple)  or Darbar Sahib (Court of the Lord), which is the beautiful golden structure at the center of a large body of water. The gold-plated building features copper cupolas and white marble walls encrusted with precious stones arranged in decorative Islamic-style floral patterns. The structure is decorated inside and out with verses from the Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book).

The water that surrounds the Hari Mandir is a sacred pool known as the  Amrit Sarovar (Pool of Nectar) . The temple is reached by following the Parikrama, which circumscribes the sacred pool in a clockwise direction. Connecting the pathway with the Hari Mandir is a marble causeway called the  Guru's Bridge , which symbolizes the journey of the soul after death. The gateway to the bridge, the Darshani Deorhi, has magnificent silver doors.

The fascinating scene inside the Hari Mandir is televised throughout India for Sikh viewers. Amidst a crowd of fervent and solemn devotees, scriptures from the Holy Book are sung beneath a canopy studded with jewels. A  chauri  (whisk) is continually waved above the Book as lines of Sikhs pay their respects by touching their foreheads to the temple floor and walls, continuing in a clockwise direction at a relaxed pace.

Another major highlight of the Golden Temple complex is the Guru-ka-Langar, a dining hall  where around 35,000 people a day are fed for free by temple volunteers. Everyone is invited to join this communal breaking of bread. All participants sit on the floor, regardless of caste, status, wealth or creed, powerfully symbolizing the central Sikh doctrine of the equality of all people.

Guest quarters  are also available for international Sikh visitors (for a nominal fee), and at least 400 simple rooms are provided (free of charge) to Sikh pilgrims.

In the  Central Sikh Museum  at the main entrance, galleries display images and remembrances of Sikh gurus, warriors, and saints; it includes some graphic portraits of the torture and execution of gurus.



 
 


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