Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple, (on account of its scenic beauty and golden coating for English speaking world), is named after Hari (God) the temple of God. The Sikhs all over the world, daily wish to pay visit to Sri Amritsar and to pay obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib in their Ardas.
Guru Arjan Sahib, the Fifth Nanak, conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and he himself designed the architecture of Sri Harmandir Sahib. Earlier the planning to excavate the holy tank (Amritsar or Amrit Sarovar) was chalked out by Guru Amardas Sahib, the Third Nanak, but it was executed by Guru Ramdas Sahib under the supervision of Baba Budha ji. The land for the site was acquired by the earlier Guru Sahibs on payment or free of cost from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. The plan to establish a town settlement was also made. Therefore, the construction work on the Sarovar (the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The work on both projects completed in 1577 A.D.
The land for the site was bought by the Guru Ram Das Sahib on payment from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. Guru Arjan Sahib got its foundation laid by a muslim saint Hazrat Mian Mir ji of Lahore on 1st of Magh, 1645 Bikrmi Samvat (December, 1588). The construction work was directly supervised by Guru Arjan Sahib himself and he was assisted by the prominent Sikh personalities like Baba Budha ji, Bhai Gurdas ji, Bhai Sahlo ji and many other devoted Sikhs. Unlike erecting the structure on the higher level (a tradition in Hindu Temple architecture), Guru Arjan Sahib got it built on the lower level and unlike Hindu Temples having only one gate for the entrance and exit, Guru Sahib got it open from four sides. Thus he created a symbol of new faith, Sikhism. Guru Sahib made it accessible to every person without any distinction of Caste, creed, sex and religion.
The building work completed in 1601 A.D. on Bhadoon Sudi 1st, 1661 Bikrmi Samvat (August/September,1604). Guru Arjan Sahib installed newly created Guru Granth Sahib, in Sri Harmandir Sahib and appointed Baba Budha ji as its first Granthi i.e. the reader of Guru Granth Sahib. After this event it attained the status of ‘Ath Sath Tirath’. Now the Sikh Nation had their own Tirath, a pilgrimage center
Sri Harmandir Sahib, is built on a 67ft. square platform in the centre of the Sarovar(tank). The temple itself is 40.5ft. square. It has a door each on the East, West, North and South. The Darshani Deori (an arch) stands at the shore end of the causeway. The door frame of the arch is about 10ft in height and 8ft 6inches in breath. The door panels are decorated with artistic style. It opens on to the causeway or bridge that leads to the main building of Sri Harmandir Sahib. It is 202 feet in length and 21 feet in width.
The bridge is connected with the 13 feet wide ‘Pardakshna’ (circumambulatory path). It runs round the main shrine and it leads to the ‘Har ki Paure’ (steps of God). On the first floor of “Har Ki Pauri”, there is continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib. The main structure of Sri Harmandir Sahib, functionally as well as technically is a three-storied one. The front, which faces the bridge, is decorated with repeated cusped arches and the roof of the first floor is at the height of the 26 feet and 9 inches. At the top of the first floor 4 feet high parapet rises on all the sides which has also four ‘Mamtees’ on the four corners and exactly on the top of the central hall of the main sanctuary rises the third story. It is a small square room and have three gates. A regular recitation of Guru Granth Sahib is also held there.
On the top of this room stands the low fluted ‘Gumbaz’(dome) having lotus petal motif in relief at the base inverted lotus at the top which supports the “Kalash” having a beautiful “Chhatri” at the end. Its architecture represents a unique harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus way of construction work and this is considered the best architectural specimens of the world. It is often quoted that this architecture has created an independent Sikh school of architecture in the history of art in India.
There is a continuous singing of Gurbani Kirtan (hymns) at Sri Harimandir Sahib from the opening of its portals (doors) to their closing. Some minor changes are effected in the summer and winter months. After the departure of the Palki Sahib (palanquin) carrying Sri Guru Granth Sahib to The Akal Takhat Sahib, the devotees, accompanied by the Gurdwara staff, clean the Sri Harimandir Sahib for one hour. During this process these devotees sing the Gurbani Kirtan in melodious and devotional tones. After purifying the precincts, the rugs are spread, on which the Peera Sahib (a small cot) is placed to install the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the early morning. At the completion of the Ardas (Sikh Prayer), Karah Prasad (holy offering) is distributed among the devotees.
At Sri Akal Takhat, after the Rehras (Evening Scripture) the weapons belonging to Guru Sahib (Sikh Masters) and Martyr Sikhs are displayed at about 8.00 p.m.
The gurdwara is constructed of white marble, overlaid with genuine gold leaf strands in the centre of a sarovar, or pool of fresh water, which is fed by the River Ravi, and said by some to originate from the Ganges river. Pilgrims bathe in the sacred waters of the tank which is known for its healing properties. Visitors gather inside the gurdwara to worship, listen to hymns, and hear the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib being read. The golden gurudwara has four entrances, one in each direction, to symbolically welcome everyone who enters, regardless of caste, class, colour, and creed. A bridge extends from the gurudwara to the Akal Takht, the governing body of religious authority for Sikhs. The Guru Granth is kept in the Akal Takhat after hours. Langar is a free sanctified meal which is prepared daily and served at the temple. It is available to the tens of thousands pilgrims who visit daily. All cooking of food and maintenance of the golden temple complex is carried out by worshippers, who volunteer their services. All cost is provided for by donations.
In 1574, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, gifted the site to Bibi Bhani, a daughter of the third Guru Amar Das, as a wedding gift, when she married Jetha, who later became the fourth guru, Guru Raam Das. In 1577, Guru Raam Das begins excavation of a fresh water tank, and begins construction of the temple site. In 1581, Guru Arjun Dev, the son of Guru Raam Das, becomes fifth guru of the Sikhs, and works to complete construction of the sarovar, getting the tank and stairways on all sides paved with bricks. During 1588, Guru Arjun Dev over-sees the laying of the temple’s foundation. In 1604, Guru Arjun Dev completes the temple’s construction. He compiles the sacred scripture Adi Granth over a five-year period, completing it on August 30 and installing the Granth in the temple on September 1. He appoints a Sikh named Baba Buddha to be caretaker of the Granth. On 15th June, 1606 (Har Vadi 5 1663 S.V.), Guru Har Govind sets the corner-stone of the foundation of Akal Takht, the throne of spiritual authority, with the assistance of Bhai Gurdas and Baba Buddha. Together, the three of them build a platform 12 feet high, in defiance of a decree made by Mughal Emperor Jahangir that no one but his own royal personage be allowed to sit on a dais over three feet in height.
Temple inaugurated On 24th June (Har Sudi 10th day 1663 S.V.), the inauguration ceremonies commence and the first hukhamnama decree is issued. During 1699 to 1737, Bhai Mani Singh is appointed curator of Harmandir Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh. During 1757 to 1762, Jahan Khan, an Afghani general of the invader Ahmad Shah Abdali, attacks the temple. It is defended by illustrious martyr Baba Deep Singh. The damages sustained, result in tegh need for major renovations. The year 1984 was a dark phase in the temple’s history. But it’s too painful to recall here. From 2000- 2004, Amrik Singh works with Douglas G Whitetaker and a team of American engineers to set up a water purification plant to serve the sarovars of Amritsar, including those of the Golden Temple Gurdwara Harmandir Sahib, Gurdwara Bibeksar, Gurdwara Mata Kaulan and Gurdwara Ramsar and Gurdwara Santokhsar. The water treatment faculty includes a sand filtration system.
The railway station in Amritsar is centrally located; of hardly 15-minutes drive from theGolden Temple.
You can easily get regular buses to Amritsar from other major cities of the country. Bus Station(s): Amritsar
Temple phone number
0183 255 3957
Golden Temple Rd,