- Written by Anchal Chaudhary
Golden Temple/Harmandir Sahib
Built under the guidance of Sikh Gurus themselves, Golden Temple symbolizes the distinct identity, glory and heritage of the Sikhs.
It was here that Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhs was first installed after its compilation.
An institution by itself, Golden Temple, is built a level lower than the surrounding land teaching the lesson of humility. Entrances on all four sides preach egalitarianism and signify that people from all walks of life are equally welcome making no distinction between castes and creeds.
The calm water of the ‘Amrit sarovar’, holy tank around the Golden Temple, adorning glorious reflection of the magnificent structure with constant recitation of Kirtan in the background makes the ambience encaptivating.
Opposite to the temple is the ‘Akal Takht’ which literally means the eternal throne. While the temple stands for spiritual guidance, the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activities. In the past, all Sikh warriors sought blessings here before proceeding for war.
The temple complex has a Sikh Reference Library and a Central Sikh Museum which houses a huge collection of paintings depicting the history and culture of Sikhs.
One of the three jujube trees within the premises of the temple complex is popularly called ‘Dukh Bhanjani Beri’. It’s believed to dispel sorrows as the pond water around the ‘beri’ is said to possess curative properties and hence relieve one from pains and afflictions. Sections of the holy pond, marked off by ropes are set aside for pilgrims (males and children) wishing to take a dip here.
Then there is a small shrine ‘Gurudwara Thara Sahib’, dedicated to the ninth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, who is believed to have rested here on an earthen platform on his visit to the Golden Temple.
Not to miss is ‘Athsath Tirath’ (a marble platform cast in the shape of a ‘manji’). It’s said that a dip here is as auspicious as visiting all the 68 holiest places in India.
There is plenty of accommodation, provided and maintained by Sri Harmandir Sahib authorities, within the premises in the form of Niwas-sthans (lodging facilities) with a few reserved for foreign tourists.
‘Langar’ is run throughout the year for visitors where people from all castes, creed and colour, sit and eat together.