Golden Temple of Amritsar

Golden Temple is one of the oldest and most Important Sikh Gurdwaras, located in the city of Amritsar. It was established by Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth guru of the Sikhs. Harmandir Sahib is considered the holiest shrine by Sikhs and so the Golden Temple is also known as Harmandir Sahib.

The important part of the Golden temple is that the 11th eternal Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is present inside it and it is the holiest literature in the Sikh religion.

Golden Temple of AmritsarThe 10th Guru of Sikhs, Sri Guru Gobind Singh on 7th October 1708 made it the eternal Sikh Guru and the leader of Sikhism. Harmandir Sahib’s construction was mainly intended as a place of worship for all, from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally. It was built with four doors to show that every religion or faith is allowed to enter in and worship.

History behind Golden Temple and its Construction

The fourth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, excavated a tank in 1577 which subsequently became known as Amritsar which means a Pool of the Nectar of Immortality. Later a city grew around  this tank which was called by the same name, Amritsar. In due course, a splendid Sikh edifice, the Harmandir Sahib which means Temple of God was constructed in the middle of this tank which became the supreme centre of Sikhism.

Golden Temple was constructed in Amritsar which is in the Majha region of Punjab. Majha is also known as the Bari Doab as it is a tract of land which lies between two of the five great rivers of the province, the Ravi and the Beas. Golden Temple was originally built during AD 1574. The site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The temple was completed in 1604.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji, installed the Adi Granth in it and appointed Baba Buddha Ji as the first Granthi (reader) of the temple 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.

The Golden Temple Complex and area in its vicinity

The temple is surrounded by a very famous and holy Sarovar(lake) filled with holy water or Immortal Nectar. This holy lake is known as Amritsar. There are entrances to the temple on all four sides which is based on the concept of the tent of Abraham in the Old Testament which ensures the acceptance of every person irrespective of religion, trade or cast.

Inside the temple complex there are many shrines to past Sikh Gurus, Saints and Martyrs. There are three holy trees inside the temple which are associated with a historical event or Sikh saint. There are many memorial plaques too that commemorate past Sikh Gurus, saints, martyars and it also include the commemorative inscriptions of all the Sikh soldiers who died fighting in the second World War.

Inside the temple there is the Sikh Central museum near the main entrance called the Ghanta Ghar Deori i.e. clock tower gate. Inside the shrine hard drinks, non veg and smoking is restricted and the every visitor is expected to cover his or her head as a sign of respect. Head scarves are provided.

One should remove his shoes and shocks while entering the temple and wash their feet in the small pool of water. There was created a serene landscape that was fully consistent with the eternal beauty of the Harmanbir sahib and was done in quiet consultation with the SGPC. The pilgrims today can travel here by foot where no vehicles are permitted.

Golden Temple is known for its Artwork and Monument Sculptures

Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the leader of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab who is also known as Sher-e-Punjab was heavy donor of wealth and materials for the shrine.

And for this hi is remembered with much affection by the Punjabi people and the Sikh community in particular.

The exterior of the Gurdwara’s upper floor and domes are covered by the golden plates and the marble work is exquisite around and was done under the patronage of this Sher-e-Punjab. The arch of the Darshani Deorhi opens onto the causeway which leads to the sanctum sanctorum of the Harmandir Sahib. It is 202 feet high and 21 feet in width. Facing the arch stands the Akal Takht.

Festivals Celebrated at Golden Temple

One of the most important festivals celebrated by Sikhs is Vaisakhi. It is celebrated in the second week of April usually on 13th and this day is important as it is believed that Khalsa was found on this very day. The festival of Vaisakhi is celebrated with fervor in the Harmandir Sahib.

There are more religious days which are celebrated in Hamandir Sahib such as martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur i.e. the birthday of Guru Nanak. Diwali is also celebrated with full encouragement in Harmandir Sahib.

On the festival of Diwali, the Golden Temple is beautifully illuminated with Diyas, lights and fireworks are really beautiful to watch. During these special occasions millions of pilgrims visit this shrine. It is also believed that most of the Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Golden Temple at least once during their lifetime.

Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple

Under the instruction of Indira Gandhi, in between 3 and 6 June, 1984, the Indian Army brought troops into the Harmandir Sahib to arrest Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. It was believed that he with some of his followers had taken refuge in the Harmandir Sahib and they resisted the police who sought to arrest him for suspected acts of terrorism.

The compound of the Golden Templeand some of the surrounding houses were fortified and the statesman reported on July 4 that light machine-guns and sophisticated self-loaded rifles were known to have been brought into the compound. Indira Gandhi ordered to launch an operation known as Operation Blue star which resulted in fierce fighting.

Many of the Bhindranwal’s supporters along with Indian soldiers were killed. The complex of the Golden temple also suffered much damage during this operation. In 1999, the destructed parts of the complex were repaired by pilgrims.

More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_temple