Discover India - Golden Temple of Amritsar

The globally renowned Golden Temple, which enshrines the Holy Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, is located in Amritsar, Punjab, India. It is the most sacred temple for Sikhs and is the largest Gurudwara (temple) in India. It is a popular tourist attraction as well. It was founded by the fourth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Ram Das and completed by his successor Guru Arjan Dev.

The Golden Temple is so called because the entire upper half of the temple is inlaid with copper covered over by gold plate. The water that surrounds the Golden Temple is a sacred pool known as the Amrit Sarovar meaning, "Pool of Nectar". Sikhs from across the globe come to pay their reverence to Guru Granth Sahib and take a dip in this sacred pool.

Other Names

The other names for the Golden Temple are Sri Harmandir Sahib, Shri Darbar Sahib, Hari Mandir Sahib and Gurdwara Darbar sahib.

The Golden Temple complex

The temple building has four entrances in all four directions called deoris, instead of the usual single entry. This is symbolic of the openness of Sikhism and indicates that followers of all faiths are allowed inside. The walls within are decorated with carved wooden panels and elaborate inlay work in silver and gold. Verses from the Granth Sahib are inscribed on the doorway. The main north entrance is known as the Darshani Deori.

As one descends into the temple (unlike most temples, here one actually descends as the structure is built below the level of the surrounding area), one is confronted by the stunningly beautiful sanctum sanctorum glimmering in the water of the holy tank that is flanked on all four sides by spotless and clean marble walkways and pavements.

The main structure rises from the center of the sacred pool. The temple stands on a platform and is a two storey marble structure reached by a walkway known as Guru´s Bridge. The lower storey is in white marble with the walls decorated with inlaid flower and animal motifs. The upper storey is gold plated, crowned with a dome (the Golden Dome) shaped like an inverted lotus. In the interior, the original copy of the "Guru Granth Sahib" is placed under a jewel-studded canopy. Priests conduct continuous recitation of verses from the holy book here.

Situated at the other end of the causeway connected to the Harmandir Sahib is the Akal Takht*. Literally, it means the eternal throne and its building opposite the temple has significance. While the temple stands for the spiritual guidance, the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activities. During the day, the Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the temple and at night it is ceremoniously returned to the Akal Takht. The palanquin, which carries the holy book, is set with precious stones and has silver poles and a gold canopy.

The Golden Temple is open to all.

The *Akal Takht, or immortal throne is the supreme seat of Sikh religious authority, and is also the repository of ancient weapons, used by the Sikh warriors and Gurus.

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