Weather :

Time Required : 2 - 3 hours

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Timings : 04:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Golden Temple, Amritsar Overview

One of the most spiritual places in India, Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is the holiest shrines in Sikhism and is alive with religious fervour and sacredness. Its divinity is a thing that can only be experienced and not described. After going through a tumultuous period of demolitions, it was rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1830 purely with marble and gold. It is the view of the resplendent shrine, glistening in the centre of the tank that brings an infinite calmness. It is located right in the heart of Amritsar and is easily reachable from any part of the city. Serving as a symbol of brotherhood and equality, Golden Temple is visited by people from all over the world who come here to seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment.  In spite of the thousands of people milling about in the premises of the temple, the only voice you will hear around you is silence interspersed with chants of the Sikh prayers.

Located in the beautiful city of Amritsar, Golden Temple is just a small part of the vast complex known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib to the Sikhs. The spiritual focus is the tank, the Amrit Sarovar, which surrounds the glistening central shrine. Amritsar takes its name from this Amrit Sarovar which was excavated in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. 
Around the edge of the compound, there are more shrines and monuments. The Sikh Museum is located inside the main entrance clock tower which shows the oppression endured by the Sikhs at the hands of the Mughals, the British and the Indian Government of 1984. The Ramgarhia Bunga is a protective fortress located at the southeast end of the tank and is surrounded by two Islamic-style minarets. Golden Temple is indisputably one of the most exquisite attractions in the world.

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The Guru Granth Sahib

The Guru Granth Sahib is placed inside the temple premises every morning and returned to the Akal Takhat (timeless throne), which is the temporal seat of the Khalsa brotherhood, every night. This ceremony is called the Palki Sahib, and it provides male visitors with a chance to participate in the veneration of this holy book. The Guru Granth Sahib is carried in a heavy palanquin. The male visitors form a line in the front and back of the palanquin, shouldering the burden for a few seconds before passing it on. This allows every person a chance to participate and rest.

The ceremony takes place at 5:00 AM and 9:40 PM in winters and 4:00 AM and 10:30 PM in winters.

History of Golden Temple

The land for the Golden Temple was donated by the Mughal emperor Akbar on which construction began in 1574. The foundation was overseen by the fourth and fifth Sikh Gurus, and the construction was completed in 1601. It has been restored and embellished continuously over the years. In the 19th century, the inverted lotus-shaped dome was inlaid with 100 kgs of gold and decorative marble. This took place under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was a legendary warrior king fondly remembered by the Sikh community.

In 1984, the then Prime Minister of India, ordered an attack on the armed Sikh militants hiding inside the Golden Temple premises. In the fight that ensued, over 500 people were killed, and Sikhs all over the world were enraged by this sacrilege of their holy site. The Sikh community did not allow the central government to undertake the repair of the damage caused to the temple, undertaking the work themselves. The temple has been substantially built since then, but the incident remains fresh in the memory of the locals.

Architecture of Golden Temple

The Golden Temple is a mesmerising blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles and appears to be floating at the end of a long causeway. It has an elegant marble lower level embellished with animal and flower motifs in pietra dura work, which is also seen on the Taj Mahal. Above this is the shimmering second level, circumscribed in intricately carved gold panels, topped by a 750 kg gold gilded dome. The gleaming inner sanctum sees the priests and the musicians continuously chanting the Guru Granth Sahib, piling on to the already intense religious atmosphere. After paying obeisance, pilgrims generally retreat to the second floor, which has the intricately painted gallery. The Hari Mandir (central temple) is connected to the pathway by a marble causeway which is known as Guru's Bridge. This path symbolises the journey of the soul after death. Embraced by marble stairways, this tank is believed to have healing powers that can cure many diseases.

Guru-Ka-Langar - World's Largest Free Kitchen

If you decide to visit this enigmatic masterpiece, don't forget to offer and taste the mouth-watering Prasad. The temple also has the largest kitchen in the world offering free langar food to people of all religions and faiths. 

Guru-Ka-Langar is an enormous dining room located at the southeast end of the temple complex where an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 pilgrims a day come to eat after praying at the Golden Temple. The food is free of charge, but the pilgrims often make donations and offer help with the staggering pile of dishes to be washed. It is a humbling projection of the Sikh doctrine of hospitality, catering to everyone from paupers to millionaires. The food served here is vegetarian to ensure that all people can eat together here, as equals. This is often touted as the World's Largest Free Kitchen. 

Celebrations at Golden Temple

One of the most important festivals celebrated at the Golden Temple is Vaisakhi in the second week of April (mostly the 13th April). This festival is celebrated to commemorate the founding of the Khalsa. The other festivals observed with great religious piety are the birthday of Sikh founder Guru Nanak, the birth anniversary of Guru Ram Das, martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, etc. The Harmandir Sahib is brightly illuminated with lights and diyas on Diwali along with the fireworks display. The temple is visited by most Sikhs at least once during their lifetime.

Structures inside the Golden Temple

1. Akal Takht and Teja Singh Samundri Hall: Akal Takht, meaning “The throne of the Timeless (God)” stands right in front of the main sanctum. Established by Guru Hargobind after his father Guru Arjan, the place came to be known for its ceremonial, spiritual as well as secular affairs. While the Akal Takht in the complex of the Golden Temple is the primary seat and chief authority of Sikhism, there are 4 more Takhts spread across Anandpur, Patna, Nanded and Talwandi Sabo, all of which are major pilgrimage sites for Sikhism.

2. Clock Tower: While the clock tower did not exist in the original construction of the temple, the Clock Tower built by the British stands in the place of the “lost palace”. In the Second Anglo-Sikh War, the British demolished a part of the building and added a clock tower instead. Designed by John Gordon, the Clock Tower was built in the year 1874 but was later demolished by the Sikhs, 70 years later. Presently, there is a new entrance to the temple which has a clock to its north and a museum on its first floor, but people still refer to it as ghanta ghar deori.

3. Ber Trees: Originally, the complex of the Golden Temple was open and housed numerous trees around the pool. Now, the temple premises has a two storey courtyard with four entrances and 3 Ber (jujube) trees. The first one is called the Ber Baba Buddha and is located to the right of the ghanta ghar deori. The tree gets its name from Baba Buddha who sat under this tree while supervising the construction of the first temple and the pool. The second tree called the Laachi Ber is believed to be the tree under which Guru Arjan took rest while the construction of the temple was taking place. The third tree, Dukh Bhanjani Bher is located across the pool, on the other side of the sanctum. According to the Sikh tradition, a Sikh was cured of his leprosy after he took a dip in the waters of the temple pool, giving the tree the label of “suffering remover”. There is a small gurudwara under this tree.

4. Sikh History Museums: The main ghanta ghar deori houses a Sikh museum on its first floor which displays the various paintings of the Gurus as well as the martyrs. Items such as swords, kartar, combs, chakkars stored in the museum depict the Sikh history in all its glory.

Daily Ceremonies

The rituals performed in the Golden Temple are carried out as per the Sikh tradition wherein, the scripture is treated as a living person, almost equated and respected as a Guru.

The opening ritual is called Prakash, which translates into "light". At dawn every day, the Guru Granth Sahib is taken out of its room, carried on the head and then placed and carried around on a flower-decorated palanquin. It is brought to the main sanctum and a ritual singing of the Var Asa kirtans and ardas takes place and a random page from the holy book is opened. This is called the mukhwah of the day and the page is read aloud and also written for pilgrims to read during the day.

The closing ritual, sukhsan (comfort or rest position) starts at night and the Guru Granth Sahib is closed after a series of devotional kirtans and three-part ardas are recited. It is carried on the head and then placed and carried in the flower-decorated, pillow-bed palanquin while the devotees chant. It is carried into the Akal Takht and tucked into bed.

Tips For Visiting Golden Temple

1. Remove your shoes and socks before entering the temple compound (there is sandal stand at the entrance). Wash your feet in the shallow foot baths located nearby. 

2. Dress appropriately. The body must be fully covered, and you need to cover your head which is a sign of respect in the gurudwara. Scarves can be borrowed free of charge or bought from the hawkers who sell souvenir scarves for INR 10. However, it is prudent to carry a scarf with you.

3. Tobacco and alcohol are strictly prohibited.

4. If you wish to sit beside the tank, sit cross-legged and do not dip your feet in the water.

5. Photography is permitted near the walkway surrounding the tank but not inside the Golden Temple itself. 

6. While listening to Gurbani, sit on the ground in the Darbar Sahib as a sign of reverence.

How to reach Golden Temple

The Golden Temple can be reached by local transport such as auto and cycle rickshaws which are the cheapest and most convenient mode of transportation. It also has car rental companies from where you can hire a car and reach the temple. The Golden Temple Trust also arranges free bus services from the Amritsar Railway Station.

  • Air: The Amritsar airport known as Raja Sansi International Airport is situated at a distance of 11 Km from the city. One can take taxis from there to reach the Golden temple.

  • Rail: Amritsar shares a very strong rail network with Delhi. Taxis and three wheelers like cycle rickshaws and e-rickshaws ferry passengers to the Golden temple.

  • Road: Traveling from Delhi to Amritsar by road is one of the best options since both the cities are connected with a flawless highway network.

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shubham mehta 3 months ago
I am at golden temple now and I would like to share my views . . .. try not to visit on Saturdays and Sundays ... today is Sunday and crowd is like . you have to wait for at least 2-4 hours to go inside the temple . .. outside is fine . . and one most important thing.... there is no proper line to visit inside.. .. everyone is pushing each other ... .. and in starting there is no different lines for women and men .... I came at 3 in the morning and still at 5.30 I am not able to visit the temple ... .. all persons are like jumping from one line to another.. .. and some sevadars are just so rude... .. my overall experience is not so good here .... this morning as still I am here .. hope for better things ahead .. no proper management for visiting inside the temple .. I may be wrong .. but I am sharing my experience . overall all things are good. I had langar yesterday night .. and it was awesome .. place is awesome . ... I sat outside .. yesterday and there is different kind of peace here .... hope it is beneficial for people who are thinking to visit golden temple
Tanvi Akhauri 12 months ago
I have visited the Golden Temple several times now, and each visit is as refreshing as the last. It is at a walking distance from the Jallianwala Bagh, so both places can be covered together. The most important thing to keep in mind is that everybody is expected to keep their heads covered (with handkerchiefs or dupattas) at all times inside the premises of the gurudwara. The most cherished virtue in the gurudwara is the quality of "seva", which ranges from volunteering in the kitchen, washing utensils to sweeping. I have never partaken in this activity, but would someday like to do so. Visitors can eat the food served during "langar", which is free of charge. I once visited the Temple at 3 a.m. for the "prakash" ritual, when the Guru Granth Sahib is brought out in a decorated carriage to the sanctum. It was a rejuvenating experience.
Rohit Shroff 12 months ago
One of the most beautiful attractions in the world, Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara or The Golden Temple is amazing both to watch and experience. Do eat and contribute with efforts at the Langar (meal room). Cover your head with a scarf/handkerchief/turban before you enter temple premises.

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