Golden Temple Amritsar is one of the famous temples of Amritsar. Golden Temple is known as Harmandir Sahib and Sri Darbar Sahib. Today I will tell you a brief history of the Golden Temple and why to visit this beautiful place. Let us start with the location of the Golden Temple.
The Amritsar is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs but also a symbol of equality. Everybody, irrespective of cast, creed or race can seek spiritual solace and religious fulfillment without any hindrance. It also represents the distinct identity, glory, and heritage of the Sikhs. To pen-down the philosophy, ideology, the beauty of Sri Harimandir Sahib is a momentous task. It is a matter of experience rather than an of description.
Journey of the Golden Temple
As advised by Sri Guru Amar Dass Ji, Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji started the digging of Amrit Sarovar of Golden Temple in 1577 A.D. Golden Temple has a unique Sikh architecture. Built at a level lower than the surrounding land level, The Gurudwara teaches the lesson of egalitarianism and humility. The four entrances of this holy shrine from all four directions, signify that people belonging to every walk of life are equally welcome.
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Brief History Of Golden Temple
The sacred shrine ‘Sri Harmandar Sahib’ is known to the West as the ‘Golden Temple’ or Harmandir Temple / Harimandir Temple. Guru Ramdas Ji wanted to give the Sikhs a central place of worship. For this reason, he founded a township, called after his name in 1577. In 1589, Guru Arjan Dev Ji requested a Sufi Saint named Mian Mir, to lay the foundation of the Harmandar. ‘Har Mandar’ literally means ‘God’s House.’ Harmandar Sahib is an example of religious emotion exemplified in marble, glass, color and gold. The shrine is encircled by a beautiful artificial lake: “The pool of nectar – Amritsar”. The reflections of the Harmandar Sahib building in the water strikingly magnify the artistic concept of the whole structure.
Akal Takhat of Golden Temple
The other seat of Sikh Power called ‘Akal Takhat’, was started in 1609. For the holding of Diwaans and other special celebrations. Akal takhat was rebuilt after the army attack in June 1984.
The Muslim Governor of Lahore took possession of the temple in 1736. Bhai Mani Singh made an attempt to hold a special Diwali Diwaan in the temple in 1768. This proved unsuccessful and cost him his life. Lakhpat Rai, the commander of Mughal forces, occupied Amritsar in 1741.
Ahmed Shah Durrani attacked Amritsar on 10th April 1762, damaged the temple and desecrated the tank. The Sikhs avenged this sacrilege by attacking the rear of his army.
Architecture of Golden Temple
The Golden Temple is regarded as an outstanding example of “Sikh architecture”. It combines in its own right Hindu and Islamic features. Its styling adapts Moghul design with elaborations. Among its typical external features are four chhattries or kiosks which ornament the corners of Harmandar Sahib’s base. Inverted and gilded lotus flowers from its domes. The arches are enriched with inlaid semiprecious stone foliations. Foliations also carry fresco paintings using the technique of Mohra Qashi (it is a special kind of decoration plaster).
The present temple and its decorations were undertaken in the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He donated many precious articles. Harmandir Temple came under popular control in November 1920. The recent broadening of the Parkarma and the development of the Central Sikh Museum have added to the attractions of the temple. The distilling of the tank was done in 1973. Special celebrations were held in Sri Harmandar Sahib e in Oct. 1977 on the 400th Foundation Day of the city of Amritsar.
Construction of Golden Temple
Guru Arjan conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and designed it. Earlier the planning to excavate the holy tank (Amritsar or Amrit Sarovar ) was chalked out by Guru Amar Das, the Third Sikh Guru, but it was executed by Guru Ram Das under the supervision of Baba Budha. 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 and the construction work on the Sarovar (the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The work on both projects was completed in 1577. In December 1588, Guru Arjan initiated the construction of the gurdwara and the foundation stone was laid by Hazrat Mian Mir on 28 December 1588.
Completion of Golden Temple Work
The gurdwara was completed in 1604. Guru Arjan installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it and appointed Baba Buddha as the first Granthi (reader) of it in 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. The forces met five miles outside Amritsar and Jahan Khan’s army was destroyed.
Operation Blue Star
Blue Star was a military operation undertaken between 3 and 6 June 1984. The Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to launch the operation. The army, led by General Kuldip Singh Brar, brought infantry, artillery, and tanks into the Harmandir Sahib to put a stop to the Dharam Yudh Morcha led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. During the Dharam Yudh Morcha, thousands of Sikhs courted arrest.Fierce fighting ensued between Sikhs and the army, with heavy casualties on both sides. The Harmandir Sahib complex also suffered much damage during the attack, especially the holy Akal Takht. Within six months, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards killed her as revenge for the operation.
This attack is regarded by Sikhs, and the international human rights community, as a desecration of Sikhism’s holiest shrine and discrimination against a minority in India. In 1986, the repairs performed on the Akal Takht Sahib. Rajiv Gandhi government had undertaken without consultation, were removed. A new Akal Takht Sahib was completed in 1999 by Kar Sevaks (volunteers).
Architecture of Golden Temple
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 gurdwara on high land, it was built at a lower level than the surrounding land so that devotees would have to go down steps to enter it. In addition, instead of one entrance, Sri Harmandir Sahib has four entrances.
The gurdwara is surrounded by the Sarovar, a large lake or holy tank, which consists of Amrit (“holy water” or “immortal nectar”) and is fed by the Ravi River. There are four entrances to the gurdwara, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness. There are three holy trees (bers), each signifying a historical event or Sikh saint. Inside the gurdwara, there are many memorial plaques that commemorate past Sikh historical events, saints and martyrs, including commemorative inscriptions of all the Sikh soldiers who died fighting in World War I and World War II.
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Much of the present decorative gilding and marblework dates from the early 19th century. All the gold and exquisite marble work were conducted under the patronage of Hukam Singh Chimni and Emperor Ranjit Singh, Maharaja of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab. The Darshani Deorhi Arch stands at the beginning of the causeway to the Harmandir Sahib; it is 6.2 meters (20.3 ft) high and 6 meters (20 ft) in width. The gold plating on the Harmandir Sahib was begun by Ranjit Singh and was finished in 1830. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a major donor of wealth and materials for the shrine.
The Harmandir Sahib complex also houses the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one), built by the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind as an authority for administering justice and consideration of temporal issues. Within the complex, the Akal Takht constitutes a counterpoint with the holy shrine, in that the Harmandir Sahib is the abode of God’s spiritual attribute, and the Akal Takht is the seat of God’s temporal authority.
World’s largest free kitchen (Langar Hall of Golden Temple)
Harmandir Sahib is home to the world’s largest free kitchen. According to the Croatian Times, it can serve free food for up to 100,000 – 300,000 people every day. At the Langar (Kitchen), food is served to all visitors regardless of faith, religion, or background.
Vegetarian food is served to ensure that all people, even those with dietary restrictions, can eat together as equals. The institution of the Sikh langar, or free kitchen, was started by the first Sikh Guru (Prophet), Guru Nanak. It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, color, creed, age, gender, or social status, a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th century India where Sikhism began.
In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness, and oneness of all humankind. Every Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship) has a langar, providing free vegetarian food for all comers.
Who donated land for Golden Temple Amritsar
The land for the site was bought by the Guru Ram Das Sahib on payment from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages.
Guru Arjan Sahib got its foundation laid by a 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.
Installation of Guru Grant Sahib in Golden Temple
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. the square platform in the center 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 the breath. The door panels 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.
The bridge is connected with the 13 feet wide ‘Pardakshna’ (circumambulatory path). It runs round the main shrine and it leads to the ‘Har ki Paure’ (steps of God). On the first floor of “Har Ki Pauri“, there is a continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib.
Decoration of Golden Temple
The main structure of Sri Harmandir Sahib, functionally as well as technically is a three-storied one. The front, which faces the bridge, is decorated with repeated cusped arches and the roof of the first floor is at the height of the 26 feet and 9 inches.
At the top of the first floor 4 feet high parapet rises on all the sides which has also four ‘Mamtees’ on the four corners and exactly on the top of the central hall of the main sanctuary rises the third story. It is a small square room and have three gates. A regular recitation of Guru Granth Sahib is also held there.
On the top of this room stands the low fluted ‘Gumbaz’ (dome) having lotus petal motif in relief at the base inverted lotus at the top which supports the “Kalash” having a beautiful “Chhatri” at the end.
Its architecture represents a unique harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus way of construction work and this is considered the best architectural specimens of the world. It is often quoted that this architecture has created an independent Sikh school of architecture in the history of art in India.
Which Things You Have to Keep in Mind In Golden Temple
- When you enter in the Sri Harimandir Sahib, You will notice that there is a stipulation for caring of shoes, luggage of the tourist and pilgrims without taking any charges. Everyone get the token when they submit their shoes and their property.
- Whenever you enter into the Gurudwara then you, please try to switch off the cell phones where these are, restricted to use in the required place.
- Before you enter the sacred area, you must wash your feets and hands, and also cover your head to give the respect to the God.
- Don’t take the Cigarette, Biri, Tobacco and other alcohol products in the sacred place.
- People those want to take a bath in the Amrit Sarovar (Nectar pool) can’t use the soap or shampoo in it.
While Taking bath in Holy Water
- The clothes that you wear during the shower become wet and must place in the Wet Clothes Room. Don’t put your clothes here and there in any area.
- If you want to use the soap during bathing, then you can do so in the washroom that is available in the Golden Temple’s Parikarma (side-line).
- You can’t swim in the holy Sarovar. The swimming banned strictly under the premise of the Golden Temple.
Things to remember
- IF you don’t know anyone in the Golden Temple, then you must avoid accepting the eatables from the unknown persons.
- It is a message for people belongs to any religion or any tourist those come there.
- If you want to click the snaps or shoot the video in the Temple that you can do it only n the outside the Parikarma.
- If you want to get the pictures of the inner Gurudwara then must take the permission from the authorized person or manager in the Golden Temple.
- You can donate the cash in the Gurudwara premises that can accept by the manager.
- If you want to contribute in the langar i.e. in the kitchen and building, you can do so, and for this, you can also take a receipt for making this contribution.
- In the Parikarma there is a restriction to serve the eatables, and you can’t wait or walk with the uncovered head.
- There is a limit that you can’t sell or read the cards or newspapers in the Parikarma.
- You can’t convey the spiritual lectures or can’t hold the worshippers in the Parikarma. You can do it only with the permission of SGPC (members in Golden Temple).
Information for Tourist Visiting Golden Temple
- The tourist or any pilgrims don’t have to pay the money to the Sewadar for their duties.
- Always put down your valuable assets like ornaments, cash, etc. at the counters that are available in the related Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar compound.
- If you have nay complaint about the staff members, sewadar, organization, then you can make your claim in the small house that has in the Parikarma of Sri Harimandir Sahib Amritsar near the Darshni Deori and Ber Baba Buddha Ji.
- You can take the Karah Parishad from the sewadar only once at a time when you exit from the Sanctum.
- Always remember that you can’t take a bath in the Har Ki Pori.
- If any small kid micturates during the Parikrama, then you must take care it and clean that area immediately, or you can also take help of the Sewadar.
- More information about Golden Temple can be viewed at Wikipedia
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Golden Temple Amritsar