11 Interesting Facts About the Amritsar Golden Temple
Located in the heart of Amritsar, Golden Temple is the most admired gurudwara in the country. The Golden Temple namely Sri Harmandir Sahib serves as an epitome of glory, harmony and equality. Sri Harmandir Sahib played an integral role in the rich history of Punjab which makes this religious heritage the holiest pilgrimage site for the Sikhs. Golden Temple is a seamless blend of jaw-dropping architecture, warm hospitality and captivating peace. It attracts devotees from different corners of the globe who seek blessing and spiritual solace. This magnificent structure with sparkling golden walls and intricate designs is an absolute treat for the eyes. Standing tall in the middle of a massive pool often gives an illusion that the spectacular Golden Temple is floating in the water. The sight is incredibly beautiful and leaves an imprint on the soul.
Are you planning a trip to the Golden Temple anytime soon? Here are 11 interesting facts that would blow your mind and bring you a step closer to this sacred place.
1. Lord Buddha Meditated at the Sacred Site
Records show that Lord Buddha stayed at the sacred site of the Golden Temple for quite some time. In those times, the spot was a lake surrounded by thick forests. Buddha declared this site as an ideal meditation ground for sadhus and saints.
2. Construction Was Initiated by the Fifth Sikh Guru
Long before the Golden Temple was built, Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru used to mediate at the holy site. However, the construction of the Sri Haramandir Sahib was initiated by Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru. He also designed the entire architecture of Sri Harmandir Sahib. The construction started in the year 1581 and took almost 8 years to complete.
3. Named After the Gold Covering
Golden Temple was named after the outer layer of gold foil that covers the entire temple. After the death of Guru Govind Singh, this gurudwara was constantly attacked and destroyed by the Islamic rulers. In the year 1762, this religious heritage was completely blown away with gunpowder. After the devastation, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a brave Sikh ruler rebuilt the rich heritage with marble and adorned it with gold. He took over the entire complex and appointed Desa Singh to look after its operation and maintenance.
4. Baba Deep Singh Died in the Golden Temple
Baba Deep Singh is one of the most honourable martyrs in the history of India. He vowed to take his last breath at Sri Harmandir Sahib. In 1757, when Amritsar was invaded by Jahan Khan, Baba Deep Singh fought the battle with five thousand men. During the fierce battle, his head was separated from the body. However, he held his head with one hand and gallantly fought with the enemies in order to reach the shrine and die on its floor.
5. Open to all Religions, Caste and Creed
The foundation stone of the auspicious Golden Temple was laid by a famous Sufi saint Mian Mir. This was done to spread a message that this sacred gurudwara is open to all faiths. There are four entrances to the temple which shows openness to all devotees irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
6. Surrounded by a Sacred Pond
The pool surrounding the Golden Temple is known as the Amrit Sarovar which is considered sacred by the devotees. Before offering prayers, they bath in the holy water of the Sarovar. The Sikhs believe that spiritual possessions can be gained by taking a dip in the holy water of the sacred pool. Earlier, legends used to say that a holy dip in the Amrit Sarovar can cure ailments and disorders.
7. One of the Finest Example of Indian and Mughal Architectural Style
The exquisite Golden Temple is a unique blend of the Hindu as well as the Islamic architecture. The shrine is decorated with marble sculptures and paintings that look similar to the Taj Mahal. The dome at the top is made from pure gold and the gurudwara is also encased with intricate gold panels. Even the ceiling is adorned with precious stones and gold. In the inner sanctum, the priests continue to chant from the holy Guru Granth Sahib which adds to the unspoken charm of the Golden Temple.
8. Set up Below the Ground Level
The first floor of the temple is submerged in the Amrit Sarovar and is only visible during kar sewa. As the Golden Temple is uniquely set up at a lower level below the ground, the stairs leading to the shrine go downwards. This is quite contrary to the Hindu temples that are always built on an elevated platform above the ground. This distinct feature at the Golden Temple signifies humble living.
9. Renovation Went on for Four Years!
In the 1990s the iconic Golden Temple was renovated with five hundred kilograms of pure gold. 24-karat gold was used during the process that is much purer when compared to the 22-karat. The value of the gold is more than 130 crores as of today. The work was done by skilled artists from different nook and corner of India. And it took four years to complete the renovation, starting from 1995 to 1999. It is believed that the glory of the Golden Temple will reach the 25th century.
10. The Largest Free Kitchen in the World
The langar sewa at the Amritsar Golden Temple is the largest free kitchen in the world. It serves more than fifty thousand meals on a daily basis. On religious events, the number rises to one lakh or more. The meal is simple yet delicious and comprises of rotis, dal, veggies and kheer. Interestingly, all the food served here are donations from devotees.
11. Volunteers Work for Free
The legendary Golden Temple attracts millions of devotees every month. The operation and maintenance of this iconic gurudwara are entirely managed through donations. But the regular task of cooking, cleaning as well as serving food is managed by the volunteers who work at the shrine free of cost.
Golden Temple is a place of immense beauty and sublime tranquillity. Devotees visiting the shrine often feel a sense of calmness and contentment. By promoting openness and interaction, this religious heritage spreads the message of equality and peace. No doubt the Golden Temple is impressive as well as an inspiring tourist destination not only in the country but also across the globe.