If you are tired of daily stress, then plan a trip to the Golden Temple of Amritsar. A land of peace and serenity, the Golden Temple is not only a pilgrimage to the Sikhs but to anyone who wants to spend some time in solace.
The Golden Temple is located at Amritsar, in the state of Punjab. With the enchanting lake amidst dense forests, the site of the Golden Temple was the seat of meditation for saints and hermits. It is believed that Lord Buddha had spent some time here in contemplation. After two thousand years of his visit, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion meditated here and later a shrine was built here, by the name of Hari Mandir. The shrine was destroyed several times by the Muslims and every time the Sikh devotees rebuilt the temple. After 1767 the Sikh clan became stronger and prevented any more harm to the temple.
The Spectacular Architecture
Hari Mandir, later known as the Golden Temple is a fusion of both Hindu and Islam architectural style. While the temple construction was started on the land donated by Mughal Emperor Akbar, Maharaja Ranjit Singh adorned the temple to make it an epitome of exquisite beauty. While the temple sparkles with golden gliding, the embellishment of precious stones in unique floral designs enhances its glamour. The marble sculptures and the copper cupolas of the main temple exhibit the king’s passion for art and architecture. The Golden Temple derived its name from the fact that 100 kilos of gold was applied to the lotus shaped dome.
The interiors of the temple exhibit a spiritual aura. The religious book of the Sikh religion, Guru Granth Sahib is kept on a jewel wrapped stand. The book is composed of religious scripts, poems, prayers and hymns collected by the ten Sikh gurus, Muslim saints and Hindu saints. Verses from the holy book are engraved both at the interiors and exteriors of the temple.
As you step into the complex of the Golden Temple, the aroma of incense sticks and the pious chants accompanied by the melody of flutes, drums and stringed instruments greet you to the paradise of peace. Another important part of the Golden temple is the Guru’s Bridge, a marble causeway, which symbolises the journey of the soul after death. The entrance to the causeway is shiny silver doors, known as Darshani Deorhi. Besides the temple, the complex also houses several dormitories where pilgrims can stay. While the foreign visitors can avail the guest quarters for a decent fee, the simple rooms are free of cost for the pilgrims.
The Enchanting Lake
The Golden Temple encircles the blue waters of the lake. There is an underground spring which feeds the lake throughout the year. The waters are considered holy and devotees dip in the cool waters of the lake to wash away lifelong sins. Amritsar derives its name from the lake, meaning, ‘pool of ambrosial nectar.’
The Mass Dining
The Golden Temple of Amritsar is a perfect example of unity among diversity. People from all caste and creed dine here together at the massive dining hall of the temple. Popularly known as the Guru Ka Langar, all visitors are treated equally here and food is served for free. Almost 35000 people can have food here at a single point of time. It is an overwhelming experience to watch so many people sit on the floor side by side to have food, irrespective of their status, caste or colour.
The Golden Temple preaches the message of universal brotherhood and hence devotees from all walks of life are permitted within the temple complex. The only rules to be followed are that liquor, cigarettes and meat are not allowed within the temple premises. Visitors need to enter the temple bare footed, after washing their feet in the pool and the heads have to be covered; you can avail the bandanas from the counter for the purpose.
The Golden Temple of Amritsar hence not only preaches the doctrine of equality but also follows it by heart. Be here to join hand in hand with other visitors and serve people selflessly.