Golden Temple of the Sikhs (Harmandir Sahib)
The Golden Temple of the Sikhs, the most important temple of the Sikh religion, is located in the Indian city of Amritsar. The temple is open from dawn until 10 pm (tentatively) .
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Video: Golden Temple of the Sikhs
The center of the complex is the gilded Harmandir (Divine Temple), whose domes and lotus-shaped ceiling are entirely covered with plates of pure gold. Every Sikh aspires to make a pilgrimage to this shrine at least once in their life, but the temple doors are open to all and many foreign tourists consider a trip to the temple the highlight of their trip. Come here early in the morning or at sunset, when the golden color reflected in the waters of Amrit Sarovar (Amrit Sarovar, literally: the lake of nectar that gives immortality) lake makes the most stunning impression.
The exotic spectacle is perfectly complemented by live religious music coming from Harmandir, which houses the sacred book of the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib.
In the 1980s, the Golden Temple became infamous as the site of two bloody sieges where Sikh fighters for an independent homeland fought soldiers of the regular Indian Army. Thousands of soldiers died in this clash, and the Sikhs still consider it a terrible desecration of their most sacred place. The Sikh bodyguards of Indira Gandhi, who had ordered the first attack on the temple (operation codenamed “Blue Star”), soon afterwards committed an act of revenge by killing her.
According to one of the basic principles of Sikhism – openness – anyone and everyone is welcome at the Golden Temple. As in any holy place, one should dress and behave appropriately. Everyone who enters the temple must take off shoes and socks, wash feet (go to the shallow foot bath) and cover the head, scarves are given for free at the entrance (they can also be bought for 10 rupees as a small souvenir in memory of the visit). Smoking and alcohol consumption are strictly forbidden. Temple attendants do not so much as ask tourists not to be negligent about washing their feet in the special tubs with holy water, but to sit in them, cross-legged. Only Parkarma, the marble path that winds around the pond, is allowed to be photographed.
Volunteers are constantly cleaning the floor of the temple, so be careful, it can be slippery.
There is an information office near the main entrance (2553954; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
Donations to the temple can be placed in one of the boxes at the entrance and exit.
The architecture of the Golden Temple is an amazing combination of Hindu and Islamic styles, but not without its own unique features. The Golden Vault (it is believed that it took 750 kilograms of gold to gild it) looks like an inverted lotus flower, symbolizing the desire of true Sikhs to live a pure life.
A stone-paved bridge (Guru Bridge) leads to a two-story marble temple, the Hari Mandir Sahib (Hari Mandir Sahib; or Darbar Sahib) The lower part of the marble walled temple, which was built in the middle of the sacred lake, Amrit Sarovar (Lake of Nectar), which gave the city its name. The lower part of the marble walls is decorated with mosaic images of flowers and animals in the style of pietra dura (marble mosaic), typical of the Taj Mahal.
The monks constantly chant the texts of the Sikh holy book in Gurmukhi, and their singing is broadcast throughout the temple complex on loudspeakers. The original Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is kept under a veil in the Harimandir Sahib during the day and ceremoniously returned to the Akal Takhat at night. In winter the ceremony takes place at 5:00 and 21:40 and in summer at 4:00 and 22:30.
On the top floor of the clock tower is the Sikh Museum (free admission; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter), which tells the story of the plight of the Sikhs, oppressed first by the Mughals, then by the British and then by Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The Akal Takhat, a building in the Golden Temple complex where the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Sikh Parliament, meets, was badly damaged by the Indian Army during an assault in 1984. The Akal Takht was later repaired by the Indian government. The Sikhs, shocked by the brutal actions of the army, destroyed it again and rebuilt it themselves.
In memory of Atal Rai, son of the sixth Sikh Guru Har Gobind, the octagonal Baba Atal Tower was built in 1784. Once Atal performed a miracle, bringing back to life a friend who had been bitten by a snake, and his father scolded Atal for interfering in the affairs of a god. Filled with remorse, the boy ended his life on the same spot, giving his own in exchange for the one he had saved. Each of the nine floors symbolizes one year of Atal’s short life.
Guru-ka-Langar – A free public dining hall in the Golden Temple (donations are welcome). Such a canteen is the hallmark of any Sikh temple, a symbol of unity among people of all nationalities, religions and views. In the huge kitchens (one of which has a machine that bakes Chapati cakes) vegetarian meals are prepared for a huge number of pilgrims – from 60,000 to 80,000 people a day (during the religious holidays this figure increases). An absolutely incredible feat!
Anyone wishing to join the huge crowd sitting right on the floor would be welcome. We highly recommend that you share the experience (and help the volunteers wash the dishes afterwards) .
To fully take in the mood of the place, to enjoy its changing lighting at different times of the day, visit the Golden Temple more than once.
Harmandir Sahib is called the Golden Temple. This amazing religious structure is located in Amritsar and is the home of Sikhism.
There are more than 22 million people in the world who practice Sikhism. More than 80% of them live in India. In terms of size, this religion is the ninth largest among others.
The doctrine originated in the 16th century in the northwestern part of India. The founder is Nanaka, who was born in Lahore. He traveled extensively, visiting Mecca, but eventually decided to stay in Pejab. The guru began to spread the teachings that were new to the local population. Finally, together with his successors, Nanak organized an entire Sikh settlement, with its own head, laws, and culture.
In 1849 the British defeated the Sikhs. This event marked the beginning of the mass migration of the population. Despite all the war events, the invaders treated Sikhism and its representatives with due respect. It even went so far as to give Sikhs jobs in high positions, for example, in the Department of State of India.
An interesting fact is that members of this religion are currently experiencing a demographic crisis.
Many Sikhs were busy building the new railroad in East Africa. By the end of World War II people began to leave for Britain and America.
History of Harmandir Sahib.
Harmandir Sahib is located in the city of Amritsar in a vast area. The most important place to visit is the Golden Temple which is a tall structure with a pavilion on the top floor. Every day in it texts from the sacred scriptures are read.
According to a legend, once upon a time Buddha liked to meditate in this place. The calm lake and the pleasant surroundings helped him to concentrate and reach his greatest heights. Later, a square pond was dug at this place and a temple was built in the very center. In time a large town grew up around it. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the temple complex was finally completed. Since then, the Golden Temple has housed the sacred manuscripts belonging to Guru Arjan Dev.
As mentioned above, the entire complex is spread over a huge area and consists of several dozen structures. Around the lake are the buildings, which stand in a way that resembles the walls of a fortress rather than individual structures. On each of the four sides is a door that represents any person who enters, regardless of religion.
There are a few restrictions on entering the temple: one cannot drink alcoholic beverages or eat meat.
Gobin Singh abolished the transfer of the post of guru by inheritance, and gave authority to the village religious community. At that time, Banda was appointed interim ruler, who was executed in 1716. After that, the entire Sikh territory was divided into twelve provinces.
Over time, the influence of the Sikhs began to increase, and by 1762 their territory had become noticeably larger. When Ranjit Singh came to power, the confederation became a strong empire with a diverse population of Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus. After the ruler’s death, turmoil began. The military chiefs began to divide among themselves all the lands of the state. It was through this incident that the British were able to defeat the vast empire.
Anyone can convert to Sikhism, regardless of faith, gender, or age. Every convert must undergo the ritual of Amrit, strongly reminiscent of baptism. According to Sikhism, one must wear five things: a kesh, metal jewelry, a comb, underwear, and a sword. In addition, weapons must never be used for gain.
There are no burials in the religion. Corpses are cremated and the ashes are scattered over the lake. Sikhs believe this ritual helps the soul to unite with God.
The Harmandir Sahib temple is of great importance to believers. It is one of the sacred and revered places in India. Harmandir Sahib gets its second name because of the golden tiles decorating the walls. They are installed in such a way that creates the impression of a temple built entirely of gold.
Interestingly, the structure did not get its final look until the 19th century under the reign of Ranjit Singh. Then the temple was decorated with jewels and marble.
The Golden Temple has a unique location. It is located in the middle of a square lake. To get inside you can take a special path that leads directly to the shrine. It sort of divides people into two halves: sinners and the righteous.
The temple was famous for its luxury and uniqueness of the interior decoration. On the outside it has a refined appearance with clear lines, but inside you can feel the elegance and richness.
The walls of the Golden Temple are completely decorated with paintings, jewels and metal.
Some call Harmandir Sahib the great dining hall. The fact is that tens of thousands of people come here every year to receive free meals. By the way, the cooking is done by volunteers. All meals are put on the table, as there is no other furniture in the temple.
There is also a bedroom in the Golden Temple, where any traveler can stay. You can only spend a few nights here, but you have to sleep on the floor and swim in the cold water.
Despite the harsh conditions, all vacationers note a sense of extraordinary spirituality and closeness to God.