TEMPLE - AMRITSAR
globally renown Golden Temple, Harmandir Sahib, which enshrines
the Holy Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, is located
in Amritsar. Amritsar, literally 'a pool of nectar', was founded
by the fourth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Ram Das, who had initially
constructed a pool here. The vital nucleus of Sikhism, Amritsar
is also believed to be the site, where Sage Valmiki wrote
the epic, Ramayana. According to popular belief, Rama and
Sita had spent a brief period of their 14 year exile here.
Guru Arjun Dev - Nanak V(1563-1606) laid down the foundation
of the temple in 1589. He requested his great contemporary
Muslim mystic, Mir Mohammed Muayyinul Islam, popularly known
as Mian Mir, to lay the foundation stone. The construction
of the temple was completed in late sixteenth century. It
was rebuilt by the Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1803.
The Golden Temple is a two storey marble structure, with an
imposing dome of pure gold. The architecture of the Golden
Temple, is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles. The golden
dome is meant to represent an inverted lotus flower. The interior
of the temple is decorated with semi precious stones, frescoes
and glass work.
The Akal Takht, or immortal throne, established by the sixth
Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind, is the supreme seat of Sikh religious
authority, and is also the repository of ancient weapons,
used by the Sikh warriors and Gurus. The original copy of
the Granth Sahib, which is kept in the Golden Temple during
the day, is ceremoniously returned to the Akal Takht, at night.
The gnarled old Jubi Tree in the north west corner of the
compound, is believed to possess special powers. It was planted
450 years ago, by the Golden Temple's first high priest, Baba
Buddhaya. Guru-ka-Langar or the communal canteen, is towards
the eastern entrance of the temple complex, and it provides
free food to all visitors, regardless of colour, creed, caste
Pilgrims and visitors to the Golden Temple, must remove their
shoes and cover their heads, before entering the temple premises.
The best time to visit the temple is early in the morning,
on weekdays, before it gets crowded.
What to See
Near the Golden Temple, is Jallianwala Bagh, a poignant memorial
of the Freedom Movement. This garden was the site of a brutal
massacre of over 2000 innocent unarmed people, on the orders
of a British General on April 13, 1919. The bullet scarred
walls of the well kept garden, today, enclose a memorial with
an eternal flame, dedicated to the martyrs.
Durgiana Temple, outside the Lohagarh gate of the old city,
is dedicated to Goddess Durga, and is a centre of pilgrimage
for devout Hindus. Other attractions are Ram Bagh Garden,
encircling the palace of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh; Fort
Gobind Garh, which was built by Ranjit Singh in 1805-09; Baba
Atal Rai Tower; Baba Bakale, a gurudwara dedicated to Tegh
Bahadur, the ninth Guru of Sikhs and Taran Taran, a gurudwara
in the memory of Guru Ram Das.
How to get there
Amritsar is connected to all the important places in the country
by air, rail or road. There is a daily return flight between