Pilgrimage of Sikh….The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple is the spiritual centre of the Sikh Religion.It is located in the heart of the city Amritsar (Punjab) and was built in between 1589 and 1601. It is a superb example of synthesis of Islamic and Hindu styles of architecture. It is the Sikh community’s holiest shrine.It is surrounded by a maze of lanes and 18 fortified gateways.  The foundation stone of this temple was laid by a Muslim saint, Ian Mir. In 1761 it was almost destroyed by an Afghan invader named Ahmad Shah Abdali but was rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was the ruler of Punjab and he not only rebuilt it but also covered the dome in gold and its interiors were embellished with lavish decoration.

The temple complex is actually a city within a city. In 1984 parts of the Golden temple were badly damaged during an army operation but now everything has been repaired and carefully restored to its original glory.

The main three storey temple which is the holiest site for Sikh is called as Hari Mandir. It is decorated with superb “pietra dura” and it is the place where the Holy Book, Guru Granth Sahib is kept during the day. The first floor of the temple has marble walls. The marble walls have “pietra dura” inlay and decorative plasterwork bearing animal and flower motifs. These are covered in gold leaf.

Sheesh Mahal is on the top floor of the temple. It has a curved “bangaldar” roof. Its floor is swept everyday with a special broom made of peacock feathers. The dome is shaped like an inverted lotus. It is covered in 100 kg of gold which was donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the ruler of Punjab, in 1830.

Darshani Deorhi is the gateway to the temple and it provides the first glimpse of the temple’s inner spectrum. It houses the Central Sikh Museum. On the display are collections of paintings, coins, manuscripts and arms that combine to create a vivid picture of Sikh history. There are two splendid silver door at this gateway where the sacred versus are carved on its walls. Steps lead down to the Parikrama, the marble path which encircles the Amrit Sarovar.

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Amrit sarovar which means the ‘Pool of Nectar’ and the town is named after this sarovar. Here the Sikhs are bapitized. It was built by the fourth Guru of Sikh,named Guru Ram Das in the year 1577. Across the Amrit Sarovar there is a long 60m marble causeway called Parikrama. It is flanked by nine gilded lamps on each side. It leads to the temple across the Amrit Sarovar. Several Holy and historic sites line the Parikrama and among them is a tree shrine called the Dukh Bhajan Ber.It is said that it has miraculous powers for healing diseases. There is Athasath Tirath also at the Parikrama which represents 68 of the holiest Hindu pilgrim shrines.

Akal Takht is the seat of the supreme Governing body of Sikhs. Its construction began in 1589 and was completed in 1601 by the sixth guru,Guru Hargobind. The upper floors were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It houses the guru’s swords and flagstaffs. As part of daily ritual, the Holy Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, is carried out of Akal Takht to the Hari Mandir at day break. It is then opened by the head priest and he reads out the message of the day. Through out the day since the break of the dawn till the late evening you can listen to the verses sung by the musician that are employed by the temple. The temple echoes with the music of ragis. At night the Holy Book,Guru Granth Sahib is brought back to the Akal Takht.

Whoever enters the main hari Mandir are given Prasad at the entrance but no visit is considered to be complete without a meal at Guru ka Langar. It is a free kitchen which is run by volunteers and here the visitors are fed the simple meal of dal-roti. This kitchen can feed 10,000 people in a day and at a time it‘s vast hall can accommodate 3,000 people. All the works of the kitchen as well as sweeping the floor of the temple and looking after the pilgrim’s shoes are done by the enthusiastic volunteers.

The final prayer gets over by 9.45 pm and after that the Holy book is reverently closed and carried in the silver palanquin back to the Akal takht. Before the doors of Darshan Deorhi is closed for the night the floors of the temple is washed with the milk and water.

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4 Responses to Pilgrimage of Sikh….The Golden Temple

  1. Thanks for this elaborate description. In my ignorance I had never heard of “The Golden temple” before.

  2. kalpana jha says:

    thanks for giving such nice informations about golden temple

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