Guru govind dooo khade, kaake laagoon paany…
balihaaree guru aapane, govind diyo bataay…
I still remember this Doha of Sant Kabir Das from my school days. He asks, whose feet will we touch first as a gesture of honor if both Guru and Govind (God) are in front of us? Then Sant Kabir says the Guru deserves the honor first as he is the one who showed us, God. Who then is the Guru? Shall I say the one who helps us to move forward on the right path in life? Yes… the guidance of the Guru aids to fulfil the purpose of life. Religious movements of India gave importance to such Gurus. Sikhism of the 15th century, one of the important religions of India, is founded on the principles of the teachings of the Guru Nanak. The legacy of Guru, gifted the Sikhs a paramount place of worship and central place for pilgrimage, Harmandir Sahib, which is today a golden shrine for all devotees without the barriers of religion. The Golden temple is the acme of Sikh architecture and a sublime site preserving the rich traditions of past for the future. Lets go on a tour around the temple which shines with the gold leaf plating.
Harmandir Sahib, the divine abode of God, is the shrine of faith for crores of people. Situated in the city of Amritsar, the religious capital of Punjab people devoutly call it Darbar sahib, Suvarna Mandir, and Gurdwara. The devotees believe in the theory of omnipotent and omnipresent, and bow before the Guru and the Golden Temple is the delta of such devotion, humanity, service and harmony.
The golden history of the Golden Temple
This revered temple which is open to the devotees of all faiths was constructed on the bedrock of service and humanity. The 3rd Guru of Sikhs, Guru Amar Das, asked his disciple, Guru Ram Das, to find a place where they could construct a new town with a man-made pool at the center. Guru Ram Das in 1574 founded the town, and people called it Ramdaspur. With the help of Baba Buddha, Guru Ram Das constructed an artificial pool in the center and invited merchants and artisans to establish themselves in the newly constructed town. Guru Arjun completed the construction and expanded Ramdaspur after Guru Ram Das. He installed Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture in the Harmandir Sahib; considered the ultimate Guru of Sikhs, in 1604. It took almost 8 years to construct the first version of the Harmandir Sahib
The tour within the Harmandir Sahib:
Harmandir Sahib, the most popular Sikh Destination in the world, is not only famous for its spirituality but also for its elegant and majestic architectural features. This pilgrim site witnesses the fine skills of the craftsmen. The architecture is a perfect amalgamation of the Indo-Islamic Mughal and Hindu Rajput architectural brilliance imparting a unique grandeur to the temple. The sanctum with its marble base arises majestically from the center of the Amrit Sarovar. Guru Arjun planned the shrine on a level lower than the city intentionally to demonstrate that there is no place for ego in the Gurudwara. Arabesque and pietra dura style of decoration mesmerizes the visitors. The holy book Guru Granth Saheb is placed in the Sanctum and is being worshiped as the eternal Guru. The two-storied structures of Darshani Deorhi consist of the shrine management office and treasury. The Gurudwara also symbolically illustrates the theory of equality with it’s 4 entrances implying it is an open house of worship
for people from all walks of life and is unshackled by faith. The golden look of the Harmandir Sahib was the brainchild of Maharaja Ranjith Singh. In 1830 he covered the temple with gold leaves weighing approx. 162kgs of gold. The belief is that the beauty was enhanced because the coating was done by hands with great devotion and love. This religious atmosphere became brighter between 1995 to 1999 as they renovated the temple with 500kgs of 24-kart gold. The second floor with the painted gallery grabs the attention of the visitors through its colorful beauty. The Guru’s bridge connects the sanctum with the shrine,similarly the Guru’s preaching connects the devotees with Waheguru.
Kill the Hunger at Guru ka Langar:
Harmandir Sahib is the place where the hunger of both the soul and stomach are satiated. Guru Ka Langar, the largest free community kitchen in the world, feeds almost 100000 people daily. In Sikhism, the concept of distributing free food was started by the first Guru, Guru Nanak, and the later Gurus followed it, as nutritious food is a basic component of living. This kitchen is run solely by volunteers and serves around 200000 meals per day. Approximately 7000 liters of milk are used to prepare just tea daily, and this huge number can explain the number of spiritual seekers visiting this holy temple. The kitchen’s ingredients donated by devotees, cooked by the devotees and served to devotees without any religious, class, or faith barriers. The admirers of the temple, without any discrimination, sit on the floor in a row to have the food as prasad. This system depicts that all are equal in the eyes of God. This 24 hours running kitchen utilizes more or less 375kgs of onion, 100kgs of spices, 1800 to 2000kgs of split chickpeas and black lentils, 24 kgs of salt, and 5000kgs of clarified butter every day. The Daal alone needs 3 hours of cooking time. Thousands of devotees prepare around 200000 flatbreads, and the langar kitchen has a roti machine to assist more. Since 1577 Guru ka Langar has been feeding visitors tasty and nutritious food. This hospitality of the community kitchen is a fight against hunger, and here the food and flavour are beyond the religion. No one visiting the the temple can remain unmoved in the face of such unconditional and selfless devotion and service.
The temple rituals and festivals:
The symbol of human brotherhood and equality, Harmandir Sahib, stands unique in the section of rituals and festivals. Let us start with the rituals. During aurora, the godly Guru Granth Sahib is brought to the Sanctum Sanctorum with the Ver Asa Keerthan singing called as Prakash. A random page is opened, and when the devotees start singing, a strong melodious aura blankets the premises. The Suksan is an interesting ritual in the night time, after the kirtans and prayers, the spiritual text is taken back to Akal Takht and placed on the floral bed. Here the belief of treating the text in the human form as Guru and following the core of it is the esteem towards the Guru Granth Sahib.
The colorful and bright festivals of the temple will mesmerize the visitors. The spring harvest festival of Punjab Baisakhi is celebrated in the second week of the month of April in the memory of the establishment of Kalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh. Sikhs celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder Guru Nanak in the temple, along with which the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadhur is also a prominent one. Diwali, the festival of lights, is also an eminent festival that is being celebrated in Harmandir Sahib. During the festivals, the golden glow of the temple is multiplied with colorful lights a boon for the eyes.
The way of enlightenment, Guru Granth Saheb:
5894 shabads, and 1430 angs, Guru Granth Sahib, is the holy religious scripture and the eternal Guru of the Sikhs. Since 1604 after its installation in the Golden Temple by Guru Arjun, Guru Granth Sahib has been worshipped in the temple. The credit for the composition of the holy scripture goes to Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan, and Guru Tegh Bahadur. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, set forth the text as his successor and eternal Guru of the Sikhs. The book contains the teachings of the gurus, the preaching of the saints of the bhakti movement, and the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganjshakar. The fascinating fact about the text is it goes well rhythmically with Hindustani music. Sikhs worship the Guru Granth Sahib as Adi Granth, the God.
A lot more about Golden Temple:
kal Takh: The throne of the timeless the almighty, the prime chamber built by Guru Hargobind stands prominently imposing in front of the sanctum sanctorum. The blessed Guru Granth Sahib is placed here before Prakash and after Suksan.
Ziziphus jujuba: Most of us are unaware of the name Ziziphus jujuba right? What if I say a Ber fruit tree? Yes… Ziziphus jujuba is the scientific name of the Ber fruit. There are 3 important Ber trees on the premises of the golden temple. The Ber Baba Buddha… the first tree can be seen near the Ghanta Ghar Deori, which got its name from the Baba Budha, who sat under this during the construction of the temple to supervise it. The next one is associated with the Guru Arjun, and it is well known as Laachi Ber. Dukh Bhanjani Bher… the third one is located near the pool.
Tik… Tik… Tik The clock tower of the British. What is your opinion about the history classes and the history articles? Did you say boring? But this fact about the Ghanta Ghar Deori is fascinating. In 1874 John Gordon designed a clock tower in place of Lost Palace. It was during the second Anglo-Sikh War that the British demolished a part of the building and constructed the clock tower instead. 70 years later, Sikhs knocked it down and built a new entrance to the temple. The clock tower is a mere memory in people’s mind today, but people still refer to the place as Ghanta Ghar Deori.
Learn Sikh History: The first floor of the Ghanta Ghar Deori is the Sikh Museum, where one can know more about the history of the gurus as well as martyrs. Swords, Kartar, Combs, Chakkars, etc., explain the glory of Sikh history, and the museum is a real paradise for a history lover.
Golden Temple Pooja Timings
Places to visit near Amritsar
Tourist’s mind always searches for the best places to visit nearby. Likely if you wish to visit the tourist places near the Golden temple, Punjab, Amritsar, here are the foremost tourist attractions.
- Jallianwala Bagh – War Memorial of national importance; this historically significant site unfolds some heartrending images from the story of India’s freedom struggle.
- Wagah Border – This international border between India and Pakistan is a place of national pride.
- Durgiana Temple – The temple with the architectural similarity to the Harmandir Sahib was constructed in the 16th century.
- Arn Taran – Holy Pilgrimage site near Golden Temple to feel the spiritual aura.
- Harike Wetland – Also known as Hari ke Pattan, it is a wetland with environmental and scenic importance.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum – A treasure house to learn more about Indian history.
- Bathinda Fort – The historical heritage site constructed by Bhatti Reo.
- Jama Masjid Khairuddin – An architectural marvel of historical importance.
- Pul Kanjari – An architectural site which narrates the romance and love of Maharaja Ranjith Singh.
- Ram Tirath – Ancient Hindu pilgrimage site related to the epic Ramayana.
- Goindwal Sahib – The first-ever Sikh pilgrimage site.
- Faridkot Fort – A fort with historical and architectural importance embellished with rich mirror artworks and frescoes.
- ISKCON Temple – The temple is of spiritual prominence to worshipers of Lord Gopal Krishna.Partition Museum – A place housing the stories, memorabilia, and documents since the partition of India.
The mode of Transportation:
- Planning to visit Harmandir Sahib? Then make a note of the following modes of transportation.
- By air: Sri Guru Ramdass International airport is the nearest airport, just 13km away from Golden temple.
- By train: Amritsar Railway Station nearest railway with a distance of 2 kilometers, is the nearest station to the Golden Temple.
- By road: There are frequent bus facilities to the Golden Temple, and the distance from the bus stop is 1.7 kilometers. Private taxis and cab services are also available.
The Golden Temple with its sacred rituals and practices is a commendable example of love and care towards humanity. The humanitarian approach of the temple blends with the spiritual intent is celebrated by one and all who visit. Harmandir Sahib, the place of religious tolerance, teaches the importance of service to our fellow beings as well as the courage to fight against the wrong. Let the Waheguru bless us as they say in Punjabi, “Jo Bole So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akaal.”