Golden Temple, located in the city of Amritsar, is the spiritual and cultural centre of Sikhism. It is the seat of the Akal Takht, the temporal and socio-political authority of the Sikhs. Every year, the Golden Temple is visited by more people than the Taj Mahal. The temple’s architecture, a mix of Islamic and Hindu is unique in its style. The dome made of 750 kgs of gold represents and inverted lotus flower signifies the Sikh faith to live a pure life.
Formally named as Harmandir Sahib, the Golden temple was built by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan, in the 16th Century when he completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism. Rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, the Gurdhwara’s upper floors were covered with gold by Manaraja Ranjit Sign to secure Punjab from attacks in the early nineteenth century. This has given the gurdwara it’s golden look and hence the name.
Inside the Golden Temple:
- Darshan Deori: Victorian clock tower main entrance
- Amrit Sarovar: water pool reflecting the Golden Temple
- Harmandir Sahib: The actual temple
- Akal Takth: Literally means ‘The Timeless’, this place is where the highest council of the Sikhs which sits and discusses. At night, the Guru Granth Sahib is also kept at the Akal Takth.
- Central Sikh Museum: On the 2 nd floor, right side. The museum is a tribute to the Sikh Martyrs with a large number of paintings and other items from the gurus. The entry to the museum is free.
- Library: The Temple also has a massive library where visitors can get books on Sikhism for free or at a very low cost.
While visiting any Gurudwara, one must not miss Langar i.e. the community kitchen, which serves food- Dal (lentils), Rice, Chapati (bread) and Sabji (curry). You should definitely try it at the Golden Temple.
Golden Temple is open 24 hours a day and it’s worth visiting both during the day, to see attend the prayers, and at night, to see the beautiful lighting decoration. It is mandatory to cover your head and wash your feet at the entrance. Though you can buy bandanna for Rs. 10 from hawkers outside, free ones are also available inside.
Photo Courtesy: Passetti