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Golden Temple, Amritsar

Golden Temple, Amritsar

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Golden Temple, Amritsar

Amritsar, known as Ambarsar and historically known as Ramdaspur is in the state of Punjab. The name was derived from the lake known as Amrit Sarovar (‘Pool of Nectar of Immortality’). Its origin lies in the village of Tung. The lake was founded by the fourth Sikh Guru Ram Das in 1574, a site granted by the Mughal emperor Akbar. He then bought the land for merely 700 rupees from the owners of the village and a temple was built around it (Golden Temple). As he believed that the lake water had healing powers. He then built his residence and moved to this place known as Chakk Ram Das. This is now known as Amritsar colloquially. It’s known to have a majestic past and a promising future with significant religious centers and historical sites.

Golden Temple History

The foundation stone being laid in 1589, we have a rich 431-year-old Golden Temple History. Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth Sikh Guru, completed building a man-made pool or Sarovar in 1577 around which the Golden Temple stands today. This pool is known as Amrita Saras meaning ‘Pool of Nectar’.

The foundation stone of this magnificent Gurudwara was laid by a Muslim Pir of Lahore, Sai Mir Mian Mohammed, on the request of the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

The Golden Temple, even after the repeated attacks from the Mughal and Afghan armies, was rebuilt by the Sikhs. The founder of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh rebuilt the Gurudwara in 1809 with copper and marble. He covered it with gold foil in 1830; it was then that Shri Darbar Sahib got the name ‘The Golden Temple’.

Sikh historical records tell us that the third Guru of Sikhism, Guru Amar Das Ji chose the land of Amritsar for building the Shri Darbar Sahib. Originally, this place was known as Guru Da Chakk but when Guru Ram Das Ji, the disciple of Guru Amar Das Ji, founded the town, it came to be known as ‘Ramdaspur’.

He then invited artisans and merchants from all over the world to settle with him in his new town.


Construction of the Golden Temple

The land for Golden Temple was acquired by Guru Ram Das. We have two theories about the acquisition of this land. The first theory states that the land was acquired with donations from Sikh owners of the Tung village. The other one states that the land was donated by Emperor Akbar to the wife of Guru Ram Das.

It was Guru Arjan Dev Ji who initiated the construction of the Gurudwara in 1581 and it took a long 8 years time to complete its first version. The Gurudwara was built one level lower from the rest of the city which signifies that one must leave his ego to enter the Gurudwara and meet the Guru. Guru Arjan Dev ji demanded the compound to be open on all sides to show that this sacred place was open to all. In fact, only one bridge was built connecting the Guru seat and the pool to emphasize one end goal of life, i.e. to meet the Guru.
The construction of the first version of the Golden Temple was completed on 16th August 1604 and a copy of the Adi Granth was placed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Baba Buddha Ji was appointed as the first Granthi of the Golden Temple.
The Golden Temple has witnessed various historical events in Sikh history:
An army was sent by the governor of Lahore to prevent Sikhs from gathering to celebrate Vaisakhi but the Sikhs gathered in the Golden Temple and defied him in 1709. Numerous Sikhs including Banda Singh were arrested and executed in 1716.

Bhai Mani Singh, the custodian of the Golden Temple was executed by the Mughal governor in 1737 and Masse Khan was appointed as his replacement. Masse Khan turned the Gurudwara into an entertainment center. However, Sikhs took their revenge by killing him inside the Gurudwara itself in 1740.
A Lahore official, Diwan Lakhpat Rai, wanted to take the revenge for the death of his brother, and therefore, he filled the pool with sand in 1746. It was restored by the Sikhs in 1749.

Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Afghan ruler, attacked Amritsar and spoiled the Golden Temple. He poured waste along with the blood of slaughtered cows into the sacred pool before leaving for Afghanistan in 1757. Gurudwara was restored again by the Sikhs.

Golden Temple – Akal Takht

Akal Takht, being the first and most important of the five Takhts of Sikhism, was established in 1606 and served as a sign of political resistance against the Mughals during the 17th and 18th centuries. The beautifully designed white structure is one of the most important tourist attractions in Amritsar. It was originally known as Akal Bunga in 1609. It was just a simple platform back then, where Guru Hargobind Rai Ji, the sixth Sikh Guru, used to hold court and hear his petitioners. Akal Takht was destroyed and rebuilt the way it stands today in 1995 by the Sikhs.

‘Akal’ meaning ‘the timeless one’ and ‘Takht’ meaning ‘throne’ together forms the throne of the timeless one. The religious Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, is kept on its first floor. The book is carried out of the building for the opening ceremony, popularly known as ‘Prakash’, and then taken back to Akal Takht for the closing ceremony, popularly known as ‘Sukhasan’.
Akal Takht is one of the many religious buildings in the Golden Temple Complex and stands right opposite the Golden Temple. It is a white structure having a dome plated with gold. Some of its amazing features include marble inlays, thinly gold-painted interiors, and beautiful wall panels. There is a touch of the old building which can be seen through features like lime plaster painted with Mughal floral motifs.

Golden Temple Facts

Golden Temple facts are interesting as well as fascinating. Noted below are some facts about the majestic Golden Temple:

The water in the pool i.e. Amrit Sarovar around the Golden temple is considered to be purifying. Devotees can bathe in it or even fill a bottle from their platform or the walkway. Everyone is made to pass a separate foot-washing pool before entering the Gurudwara after which they must remain bare-foot.

Every evening the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, is given rest on a cushion and brought back to sanctum in the morning to open a random page that would base the prayer of the day.

The Golden Temple is open to all irrespective of their castes, creed, or religion. The four entrances to the temple is a symbol that signifies its openness for all.
Baba Deep Singh Ji, well-known as one of the most honourable martyrs in the history of India, vowed to take his last breath in the Golden Temple. He fought bravely with his enemies holding his executed head in one hand until he reached the shrine and took his last breath on the floor in 1757.
The Golden Temple is a blend of Hindu and Islamic Architecture. Its shrine is decorated with marble sculptures while its dome is made of pure gold.

Golden Temple Langar

Golden Temple Langar(Free Food) also known as Guru Ka Langar is famous all over the world. They serve about 50,000 free meals a day. Here are some amazing facts about the Golden Temple langar:

Golden temple is one of the huge free kitchens in the world, serving about 50,000 meals a day. These numbers often rise up to 100,000 on occasions or holidays.

Meals served in the langar are healthy, nutritious, and vegetarian. They mostly consist of rotis, daal, sabji, chawal, and kheer.

The Gurudwara has two dining halls, having a capacity to serve 5000 people at one time. Devotees are asked to sit on the floor while the volunteers serve them food.

Approximately 50 quintals wheat, 20 quintals daal, 15 quintals rice, and 5 quintals milk is consumed on a daily basis in the kitchen.

The raw materials for the kitchen are mostly brought from Delhi. Gurudwara also receives a lot of donations in the form of cash or kind.

Extremely large utensils are used for cooking. The langar uses ‘kadhai’ that can store up to 7 quintals daal at once.

Over 300 volunteers in the Golden Temple on a permanent basis whereas some work occasionally. These workers are known as ‘sewadaars’.

A roti making machine is used on occasions that can make about 25,000 rotis in just one hour.

Everyone should visit the majestic Golden Temple at least once in their lifetime to admire the beauty of this place and experience the peace in its surroundings.

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