India is a banquet of multi-religion, multi-lingual and multi-culture. The vast population of India belongs to various religions and to pay obeisance to their respective deities, people visits various sacred places like temples, mosques, churches, gurdwaras.
Similar to Haridwar, Varanasi, Pushkar and Ajmer, Amritsar is also one of the most revered places of
Sikh community in Punjab. This holy place has the most beautiful and pious gurdwara of Sikh religion known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Sri Harmandir Sahib. Popularly known as Golden temple due to its golden coating, this holy place is a symbol of the magnificence and strength of the Sikh people all over the world. It propagates the message of Sikhism that talks about tolerance and acceptance.
Every believer of Sikh religion from around the globe has a desire to pay visit to Amritsar, so that he or she can pay deference at Sri Harmandir Sahib in their Ardas. The fifth Guru of Sikh community, has installed a newly created Guru Granth Sahib( the holy book of the Sikhs) in the Golden temple and appointed Baba Budha ji as its first Granthi i.e. the reader of Guru Granth Sahib.
Architectural Significance 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. On the request of Guru Arjan Sahib, a Muslim saint named Hazrat Mian Mir ji of Lahore has laid the foundation of golden temple in December 1588.
Prominent Sikh personalities like Baba Budha ji, Bhai Gurdas ji, Bhai Sahlo ji and many other devoted Sikhs has assisted Guru Arjan Sahib in constructing this sacred place of Sikh people. The architecture of this beautiful monument is a fine blend of Hindu and Muslim architectural designs.
But, originally built during 1574 A.D, the site of the Golden temple is surrounded by a large sarovar (the tank) which was enlarged by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Nanak. This Sarovar is known as AmritSar(Lake of holy water or Immortal Nectar). Even the construction of a small town which was started by the fourth Guru was completed in 1577 A.D.
The entire construction work of Golden temple was completed by September 1604 A.D. It is built on a lower level, on a 67ft sq platform and has a door each on the East, West, North and South sides. The gurudwara is itself 40.5 ft square. At the shore end of the causeway, an arch is there which is known as Darshani Deori. The doorframe of the arch is about 10ft in height and 8ft 6inches in breadth. The door panes are exquisitely designed and 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.
A 13 feet wide 'Pardakshna' (circumlocutory path) is joined with the bridge. This circumlocutory path runs around the main shrine and it leads to the 'Har ki Paure' (steps of God). On the first floor of 'Har ki Paure', there is continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib.
On the top stands the low fluted 'Gumbaz' (dome) having lotus petal motif in relief at the base and an inverted lotus at the top, which supports the 'Kalash' having a beautiful 'Chhatri' at the end. Another main attraction of golden temple is excellent marble work that is used to embellished this pious place.
Important Buildings Around Golden Temple:
There are many significant buildings that surrounds Golden Temple of Amritsar and a trip to Golden temple is incomplete without visit to these monuments. Some of the famous monuments that surrounds Golden temple are
Akal Takhat: Constructed by Sixth Guru Hargobind in 1609, directly faces the Golden temple. It is the main centre of Sikhism. This is the building from where all commandments are issued that affects the community as a whole. It was also used to hold court and Sikh congregations in the days of its builder. In the year 1874, the ground floor of the present building was constructed. Maharajah Ranjit Singhji has built the subsequent three storeys of the building. It is also repository of weapons that are used by the Guru Hargobind, Guru Gobind Singh and other Sikh heroes.
Baba Atal: It is a nine storey tower that was build in memory of Atal Rai, son of sixth Guru Hargobind ji, who died at the age of nine only. This tower was constructed in between 1778 and 1784 and has a height of 108 ft.
Guru Ka Langar: It is a community kitchen of Golden temple which serves cooked food to approximately 40, 000 visitors every day. Irrespective of the caste, creed, religion and nationality, this kitchen provides free meals to the devotees 24 hours.
Sri Guru Ramdas Niwas: It is a free hostel for the pilgrims which was constructed by Gurdwara committee and maintained by the temple authorities. It has 228 rooms and 18 big halls. It provides beddings, cots, lights and fans etc entirely free of cost to the lodgers.
Beside them other important buildings that are available in the Golden temple complex are:
SGPC committees, Dukh Bhanjni Ber( Jujube tree), Thara Sahib, Ber Baba Budha ji, Gurdwara Ilachi Ber, Ath Sath Tirath(Sixty eight holy places condensed into one) and Gurdwara Shaheed Bunga Baba Deep Singh .
Things To Do In Golden Temple:
Worshiping: The main activity in which a visitor can indulge himself in Golden Temple is Worshiping. It is the most important place for Sikh community and people from all over the world comes here to pay their deference.
Sight Seeing Activity: Beside worshiping, it is a place for visual delights also. The Golden temple complex has several monuments that are true treat to eyes due to their artistic styles.