Golden Temple Amritsar- The Most Visited Place in the World
Golden temple or Darbar Sahib or Sri Harmandir Sahib is the most important pilgrimage site for Sikhs in India. People visit this temple to enjoy its architectural factor, rituals and for pilgrimage. According to SGPL official, more than one lakhs devotees visit this shrine every day. So, the World Book of Records has declared that Golden Temple is the most visited place of the World. No trip to Amritsar is complete without a visit to the Golden temple. Read here about the complete guide about Golden Temple.
About the Golden Temple, Amritsar
This temple is built on an artificial pool that was built in 16th century. The foundation for the temple was made in the end of 16th century. The temple was repaired and rebuilt several times as it was attacked by Mughals and invaders. It was completely destroyed and the pool was turned into a dumpster. In the beginning of 19th century, the temple was rebuilt by Ranjit Singh and was covered with golden foil. This led to the famous name, Golden temple. The temple was again destroyed and rebuilt in the end of 20th century. The temple is open to all religion, creed and gender.
The temple is square and has four entrances. It has a circumambulation that is laid around the pool. The temple complex contains many buildings in it like Akal Takht, Gurudwar committee office, museum, community kitchen and others. This temple is visited by 100,000 people every day for worship. This complex is nominated for recognition as a heritage site.Suggested Tour : 7 Days Golden Temple Tour from Delhi
Architecture of the Temple Complex
The temple’s architecture is a mixed style of many practices that exist in India. The major styles include Indo-Islamic, Mughal and Hindu Rajput. The temple has two levels and a dome covered with gold foil. The temple stands on a marble platform and sits inside a pool called amrit sarovar (the pool of nectar). There is a half hexagonal shelter that has holy steps that lead to the pool. Pilgrims who wish to take a holy bath in the pool use this set of stairs. Bathing in the pool is considered a sacred act that will restore powers and lead to eternal salvation. It is also a common practice to collect the pond’s water in bottles for sick people. The water is sprinkled on the sick to cure. The pool is regularly draining and desilted by a separate committee.
The ground floor has a scripture of Guru Granth Sahib. This scripture is taken back to the bedroom in another building inside the complex for four hours in one day. Elaborate ceremonies take place when the scripture is taken to and from the temple complex. You can also find stairs that lead to the upper floor. The floor is lined with marbles. The doors are covered with gold foils and copper sheets.
The upper floor is modified into a gallery. The ceiling of this floor is decorated with embossed design and jewels. The stair walls have murals of Gurus of the religion. You can also find many interesting paintings like Guru Gobind Singh being carried by a falcon.
This is a two-floored building, which has the temple management office. On the exit of this building, the volunteer offer sweet delicacy that was served to the deity. The iconic delicacy of this temple is Karah Prasad that is made with flour. Pilgrims should enter the temple, make a clockwise circumambulation around the temple and then reach the DarshaniDeorhi to receive the offering.
The clock tower is also called as the lost palace. The British destroyed the original Golden Temple and built a clock tower in its place. The clock tower was later destroyed while building the new temple. The place where the clock tower once stood is now an entrance and it has a clock. This entrance has an upper floor, which holds a museum. This entrance is still called as the clock tower.
The original Golden Temple had many trees in its complex. It was later destroyed several times and only three trees stand in the courtyard now. One of the trees is located to the right of the main entrance of the temple. It is said that Baba Buddha sat under the tree to supervise the construction of the pool and the temple.
The second tree is believed to be the place where Guru Arjan rested while the temple was being built. The third tree located outside the sanctum is the place where a Sikh was cured of leprosy after taking a dip in the bath. This tree is located across the pool and now, it holds a Gurdwara under it. This is an important pilgrim spot too. There are 68 Sikh pilgrimage spots in India. A dip in the pool near the tree is assumed to give salvation equivalent to visiting all 68 pilgrimage spots.
On the top floor of the clock tower entrance, the Sikh history museum is located. This museum holds ancient paintings of Gurus, swords, combs, chakkars and others. There is a new underground museum near the clock tower. This is located outside the courtyard and it holds historic artworks.
There are four entrance to the complex but only one entrance to the temple. This main entrance holds many plaques that commemorate many historic events related to the religion. There is also a plaque as a memorial for all Sikh warriors who died in World War II.
Guru Ram Das Langer or the community kitchen is located inside the complex. This kitchen holds a dining hall too. Food is served every day to all visitors. Vegetarian food is only served. People have to sit on the floor in rows to eat.
Rituals at Golden Temple
This is the closing ritual of the temple. Many mantras are recited as the doors to the temple are closed. The scripture is placed on a palanquin, which is decorated in flowers. The scripture is taken to the bedroom in Akal Takht where it is tucked into bed.
This is the opening ritual, which takes place at the sawn. The scripture is taken back from the bedroom, placed on head and carried back to the temple. After many rituals, a random page from the book is opened and read aloud. This page is written down and handed over to visitors to read it.
When to Visit Golden Temple?
The best time to visit is during Sikhism festivals like Vaisakhi. It is celebrated in the second week of April. You can find many unique rituals during this day. Other top festivals to choose are birthday of Guru Ram Das, Martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur and others. On Diwali, the temple will be decorated with colorful lights and fireworks would be burst in the evening.
The best time to visit in terms of climate is the winter season. The humidity is low, temperature is pleasant and showers are rare. Winter starts in November and ends in March. Sometimes, the temperature can go below freezing point at night. Summers have hot and humid climate. April to July is the peak summer season here. Monsoon starts in July and ends in October. The showers reduce the heat but the place still remains humid.
How to Reach Golden Temple?
The closest international airport is located in Raja Sansi. It is around 11 km away from Amritsar. You can hire cab to reach the city center in 20 minutes. The cab ride will cost around INR 300. You can find other modes of transportation too. There are frequent flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Srinagar and other states in the world.
You can hire buses or cabs from other states like Delhi, Chandigarh and others. It would take a little more than 7 hours to reach Amritsar from Delhi. Many bus service providers offer packages to visit Golden Temple and other important attractions in the city.
Activities to Enjoy In Golden Temple
- Visit the temple for sightseeing and witnessing rituals during day.
- Come back and visit at night to enjoy the temple decorated in lights. The Golden Temple will glitter with lamps against the dark background of the night sky.
- Take part in the community kitchen. You can serve food, cook or wash in the kitchen.
- Sit down for a good meal with thousands of other people.
- Some prefer laying down on the edge of the lake by night to enjoy the temple in silence.
- Walk around the pond to witness rituals that take place in the pond and on the stairs.
- Climb up to the terrace to get a good look of the city around the temple.
- Take a holy dip in the water and enjoy other rituals here. Do not forget to taste the holy offering.
Tips for Enjoying Golden Temple
- Wear modest and decent dress. Your shoulders and knees should be covered. Shorts are not allowed inside the temple.
- Everyone visiting the temple should cover his or her hair with scarf. Scarves are found in shops around the temple too.
- Remove your shoes and wash your feet in the running water before you enter the temple.
- Smoking and drinking are not allowed in or near the temple complex.
- If you find a queue in the inner temple, please follow as instructed. Sometimes, queue can stretch for more than an hour.
- Meal times are from 12 pm to 2 pm and from 7 pm to 9 pm. A meal has to be completed in 15 minutes.
- When the holy book is chanted, please maintain silence.
- Feel free to talk to the people about their culture.
- Take a lot of water with you.
- You can take pictures of the temple and the pond. When you are in the inner temple, you need to leave your camera along with your other belongings.
- Toilets are available near the information office.