The Golden Temple also called Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib , located in the city of Amritsar , India , is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion.
The Buddha is known to have spent time at this place in contemplation . 2000 years after , Guru Nanak (1469-1539) came to live and meditate by the peaceful lake and founded the Sikh religion . Amritsar was established by Guru Ram Das, the fourth guru of the Sikhs, and is known as Guru di Nagri .
The Golden Temple is considered holy by Sikhs because the eternal guru of Sikhism, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is always present inside , the temple being a place of worship for men and women from all religions . The temple building has four entrances, this is a symbol of the openness of Sikhism and indicates that followers of all faiths are allowed inside. The walls within are decorated with carved wooden panels and elaborate inlay work in silver and gold.
Golden Temple construction
Originally built in 1574, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The Golden Temple was built during the time of Guru Arjan Dev (1581–1606). In 1588, the great Muslim Sufi saint of Lahore, Hazrat Mian Mir, who was a close friend of Guru Arjan Dev Ji , placed the first foundation stone (December 1588 AD). A mason then straightened the stone but Guru Arjan Dev told him that, as he had undone the work just completed by the holy man, a disaster might come to the Harmandir Sahib. It was later attacked by the Mughals. 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 Golden Temple was attacked by the Afghans and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s. On numerous occasions the temple was destroyed by the Moslems, and each time was rebuilt more beautifully by the Sikhs. From 1767 onwards, the Sikhs became strong enough militarily to resist the attacks.
The Golden Temple sits on a rectangular platform, surrounded by a pool of water called the Amrit Sarovar from which the City is named
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.
The temple’s architecture draws on both Hindu and Moslem artistic styles yet represents a unique coevolution of the two. During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), The Golden Temple was richly ornamented with marble sculptures, golden gilding, and large quantities of precious stones. Within the sanctuary, on a jewel-studded platform, lies the Adi Grantha, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. This scripture is a collection of devotional poems, prayers, and hymns composed by the ten Sikh gurus and various Moslem and Hindu saints.
One of the most important festivals is Vaisakhi, which is celebrated in the second week of April (usually the 13th). Sikhs celebrate the founding of the Khalsa on this day and it is celebrated with fervour in the Harmandir Sahib. Most Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Harmandir Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly during special occasions in their life such as birthdays, marriages, childbirth, etc.
The Golden Temple is open to all people from all religions . Pilgrims and visitors to the Golden Temple must remove their shoes and cover their heads before entering the precincts. No Smoking is allowed inside the whole temple area, photography is permitted only from the Prakarma , the marble pathway that surrounds the sacred pool. An English speaking guide is available at the information office near clock Tower that marks the temples main entrance. The information office has a number of interesting free publications.