Golden Temple

4.5 / 5 99 votes


Ideal Time: 2 - 3 hours


04:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Entry Fee:

No entry fee

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.

More on Golden Temple

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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Golden Temple Reviews

6 months ago by Tanvi Akhauri

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.

6 months ago by Rohit Shroff

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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