Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India
Darbar Sahib, Golden Temple is the holiest shrine in Sikhism. It was officially renamed Harmandir Sahib (meaning Divine Temple) in March 2005. The temple (or gurdwara) is a major pilgrimage destination for Sikhs from all over the world, as well as an increasingly popular tourist attraction for its immense beauty and inspiring harmony.
Harmandir Sahib, the main temple, built in the midst of a lake, is a two-story marble structure with an imposing dome of pure gold. Construction of the Golden Temple began in 1574 on land donated by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was initiated by the fourth guru, Guru Ram Das and completed by his son, Guru Arjan Dev. The temple had to be substantially rebuilt after it was sacked in the 1760s, and in the early 19th century 100 kilograms of gold were applied to the inverted lotus-shaped dome and decorative marble was added. All the gold and marble work took place under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The legendary warrior king was a major donor of wealth and materials for the shrine and is remembered with much affection by the Sikh community and Punjabi people.
The main entrance, Darshani deori, sports a distinctly Victorian clock tower. The giant pool of water surrounding the Golden Temple is known as Amrit Sarovar. There are sections set aside for pilgrims to bathe. Harmandir Sahib houses the sacred Adi Granth scripture (Guru Granth Sahib), which is recited aloud during the day. It is brought back to the Akal Takht at night, which is the seat of the highest council of Sikhs. This is a unique ceremony that takes place everyday, but nothing is compared to the “Guru Ka Langar” (community kitchen) that are held inside the premise. Not only poor and needy but the richest of rich who enjoy the most heavenly cuisines, sit with their legs folded on the ground for this divine food of God. You must cover your head and remove you shoes before entering the temple.
All Sikhs are expected at some point in their lives to volunteer for a week at the temple and everyone see working here is fulfilling that responsibility.
Nanak Naam Chardhi Kala, Tere Bhane Sarbatt Da Bhala
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh