The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib Punjabi pronunciation and informally referred to as the “Golden Temple”, is the holiest Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. The city was founded in 1574 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. On 3 January 1588, Muslim Sufi saint Sai Hazrat Mian Mir laid the foundation stone of the Harmandir Sahib and in 1604 he completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the gurdwara.
There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions. The present-day gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with the help of other Sikh Misls. In the early nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and its English name.
The Harimandir Sahib is considered holy by Sikhs. The holiest text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib,is always present inside the gurdwara. Its construction was mainly intended to build a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally.Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship
The Harmandir Sahib literally means the House of God. In 1578 CE Guru Ram Das excavated a tank, which subsequently became known as Amritsar (Pool of the Nectar of Immortality), giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, the Harmandir Sahib,was built in the middle of this tank and became the supreme centre of Sikhism. Its sanctum came to house the Adi Granth comprising compositions of Sikh Gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosophies, e.g., Baba Farid, and Kabir. The compilation of the Adi Granth was started by the fifth guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan.
Construction of the Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib at night
Guide Map of the The Golden Temple Complex
Guru Arjan conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and designed the architecture of Harmandir Sahib. Earlier the planning to excavate the holy tank (Amritsar or Amrit Sarovar ) was chalked out by Guru Amar Das, the Third Sikh Guru, but it was executed by Guru Ram Das under the supervision of Baba Budha. The land for the site was acquired by the earlier Guru Sahibs on payment or free of cost from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. The plan to establish a town settlement was also made and the construction work on the Sarovar (the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The work on both projects was completed in 1577 A.D. During the leadership of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan (1581–1606), the full-fledged gurdwara was built. In December 1588, Guru Arjan initiated the construction of the gurdwara. The foundation stone was laid by Guru Arjan and Mian Mir in December 1588.
Some of the architectural features of the Harmandir Sahib were intended to be symbolic of the Sikh worldview.Instead of the normal custom of building a gurdwara on high land, it was built at a lower level than the surrounding land so that devotees would have to go down steps to enter it. In addition, instead of one entrance, Sri Harmandir Sahib has four entrances.
The gurdwara was completed in 1604. Guru Arjan, installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it and appointed Baba Buddha as the first Granthi (reader) of it on August 1604. In the mid-18th century it was attacked by the Afghans, by one of Ahmed Shah Abdali’s generals, Jahan Khan, and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s. However, in response a Sikh Army was sent to hunt down the Afghan force. Both forces met each other five miles outside Amritsar; Jahan Khan’s army was destroyed.