Location: Amritsar, Punjab
Official Name: Sri Harmandir Sahib
Founded In: 1588
Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhism, is situated in the Amritsar city of Punjab. The official name of the gurdwara is Sri Harmandir Sahib and it is also known by the name of Sri Darbar Sahib. The term Harmandir is made up of two words, Hari meaning ‘God’ and Mandir meaning ‘Temple’. Thus, Harmandir means the ‘Temple of God’. The name Golden Temple was given to the gurdwara since it has been coated with gold, on the outside. Every day, thousands of devotees, from all over India as well as the world, come to the shrine to pay respects to the Almighty.
The holy tank - Amrit Sarovar, in which Golden Temple has been situated, is the oldest structure in the entire city of Amritsar. The construction of the tank was the dream of Guru Amardas Sahib, the Third Guru of the Sikhs. However, it was executed by Guru Ramdas Sahib, under the supervision of Baba Budha ji. The land for the tank was given by the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages and thereafter, the work on Amrit Sarovar was started along with that of the development of Amritsar. The city has been named after the tank only.
The idea of constructing Sri Harmandir Sahib, a central place of worship for the Sikhs, can be attributed to Guru Arjan Sahib, the Fifth Guru of the Sikhs. He was also the one who made the architectural plans of the gurdwara. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid down in December 1588, by Hazrat Mian Mir ji, a Muslim saint belonging to Lahore. The work was completed in the year 1604 and thereafter, Guru Arjan Sahib installed the holy Guru Granth Sahib in the sanctum sanctorum.
Come One, Come All!
Golden Temple has a very enchanting feature, which endears it more to the devotees. The gurdwara has entrances on all the four sides, signifying the fact that the home of God is open to one and all, without any distinction on the basis of religion, caste, creed, sect or social status. With the construction of the shrine, Guru Arjan Sahib laid down the principle of equality, harmony and acceptance in Sikhism. Baba Budha ji was the first Granthi (reader of Guru Granth Sahib) of Sri Harmandir Sahib of Amritsar.
The beauty of Golden Temple is so exquisite that words can hardly do justice to it. Spread over a square platform of 67 sq ft, the gurdwara is situated at the end of the long walkway. The entire temple covers an area of 40.5 square feet. There is a 13 feet wide circular pathway, known as ‘Pardakshna’ that runs around the main shrine and finally leads to 'Har ki Paudi' or ‘Steps of God’. There are three entrances to the central hall, which is a small square room.
The Guru Granth Sahib is recited in the room, on a daily basis. The dome of the room is shaped like an inverted lotus or ‘Kalash’ that has a beautiful ‘Chhatri’. The gilding and marble work of the temple dates back to almost the 1800’s and was done under the Maharaja of Punjab, Ranjit Singh. The exquisite architectural style is a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim styles and has even created an autonomous Sikh school of architecture.
Places to Stay at Amritsar (Golden Temple)
There are a number of accommodation options available in the city of Amritsar, right from the five star hotels to the guesthouses. The business and luxury travelers prefer the five star hotels, with all the contemporary facilities. While, the budget travelers usually go in for economy hotels and guesthouses, which provide decent facilities at reasonable cost.
How to Reach
Amritsar airport, known as the Raja Sani International Airport, is well connected with the various parts of India as well as the world. One can easily get flights to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Birmingham, London, etc.
Amritsar has a railway station of its own, which is regularly serviced by trains from all parts of India. You will easily get trains from all the metro cities, like Delhi Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, for Amritsar.
Amritsar has a very good road network, which enables its people to remain connected with the other cities of India. You can get local, semi deluxe, deluxe and super deluxe buses from here to cities in Punjab and nearby states.