Amristar golden temple
Sri Harmandir Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India.Sri Harmandir Sahib, also know as the Golden Temple in Amritsar is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. Also known as the Shri Darbar Shaib, it is in the center of the old part of Amritsar. The Golden Temple sits on a rectangular platform, surrounded by a pool of water called the Amrit Sarovar from which the City is named Amristar.
Harmandir Sahib literally means Temple of God. The fourth guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, excavated a tank in 1577 CE which subsequently became known as Amritsar (meaning “Pool of the Nectar of Immortality”), giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, a splendid Sikh edifice, Harmandir Sahib (meaning “the abode of God”), rose in the middle of this tank and became the supreme centre of Sikhism. Its sanctum came to house the Adi Granth comprising compositions of Sikh gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosophies, e.g., Baba Farid, and Kabir. The compilation of the Adi Granth was started by the fifth guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev.
Construction of the gurdwara was started 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”.
The present Golden Temple was rebuilt in 1764 by Maharaja Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (1718–1783) with the help of other Misl Sikh chieftains. It was more beautified with adding more architecture. Between 1802–1830 Ranjit Singh did the sewa of gold plating the Temple and adding marble to it as well, while the interior was decorated with fresco work and gemstones.
Originally built in 1574, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The third of the six grand Mughals, Emperor Akbar, who visited the third Sikh guru, Guru Amar Das, in the neighbouring town of Goindval, was so impressed by the way of life in the town that he gave a jagir (the land and the revenues of several villages in the vicinity) to the guru’s daughter Bhani as a gift on her marriage to Bhai Jetha, who later became the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. Guru Ram Das enlarged the lake and built a small township around it. The town was named after Guru Ram Das as Guru Ka Chak’, Chak Ram Das or Ram Das Pura. During the leadership of the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev (1581–1606), the full-fledged Temple was built. In December 1588, Guru Arjan invited Hazrat Mian Mir, a Muslim Sufi saint from Lahore, to initiate the construction of the temple by laying the first foundation stone (December 1588 CE).
Some of the architectural features of the Harmandir Sahib were intended to be symbolic of the Sikh worldview. Instead of the normal custom of building a temple on high land, it was built at a lower level than the surrounding land so worshippers would have to go down steps to enter it. In addition, instead of one entrance, the Harmandir Sahib has four entrances.The temple was completed in 1604. Guru Arjan Dev, installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it and appointed Baba Buddha Ji as the first Granthi (reader) of it on August 1604. In the mid-18th century it was attacked by the Afghans, by one of Ahmed Shah Abdali’s generals, Jahan Khan, and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s. However, in response a Sikh Army was sent to hunt down the Afghan force. They were under orders to show no mercy and historical evidence suggests the Sikh Army was decisively victorious in the ensuing battle. Both forces met each other five miles outside Amritsar; Jahan Khan’s army was destroyed.The temple is surrounded by a large lake or temple tank, known as the Sarovar, which consists of Amrit (“holy water” or “immortal nectar”). There are four entrances to the temple, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness. Inside the temple complex there are many shrines to past Sikh gurus, saints and martyrs (see map). There are three holy trees (bers), each signifying a historical event or Sikh saint. Inside the temple there are many memorial plaques that commemorate past Sikh historical events, saints, martyrs and includes commemorative inscriptions of all the Sikh soldiers who died fighting in World Wars I and II.
In keeping with the rule observed at all Sikh temples (Gurdwaras) worldwide, the Harmandir Sahib is open to all persons regardless of their religion, colour, creed, or sex. The only restrictions on the Harmandir Sahib’s visitors concern their behavior when entering and while visiting:
Maintaining the purity of the sacred space and of one’s body while in it:
Upon entering the premises, removing one’s shoes and wash the feets in the small pool of water provided.
Not drinking alcohol, eating meat, or smoking cigarettes or other drugs while in the shrine
Wearing a head covering (a sign of respect) the temple provides head scarves for visitors who have not brought a suitable covering.
How to act:
One must also sit on the ground while in the Darbar Sahib as a sign of inferiority to both the Guru Granth Sahib and God.
First-time visitors are advised to begin their visit at the information office highlighted in the map and then proceed to the Central Sikh Museum near the main entrance and clock tower.