The Harmandir Sahib(or Hari Mandir) located in Amritsar is not only of utmost importance for the Sikhs but is also a major tourist destination due to its immeasurable beauty. Previously and commonly known as the Golden Temple, it was officially renamed Harmandir Sahib in March 2005.
It is situated in the middle of a large lake or temple tank in what was originally a deep forest.
The construction of this gurdwara was initially started by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru in 1574, on land donated by the Mughal emperor Akbar. It was completed by Guru Arjan Dev, his successor.
Unfortunately, the gurdwara occasionally damage during the eighteenth century as it was the place of conflict between the Sikhs and either Mughal or Afghan forces. However, in the earth nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh protected it from outside attack. He also decorated the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold which led to it being named as the “Golden Temple” worldwide. It also made it one of the most spectacular sights of worship.
What makes this sacred place especially unique is the fact that’s its construction combines Muslim, Hindu and European design principles.
Not only is it a major pilgrimage destination for Sikhs from all over the world, people from all walks of life irrespective of caste, creed, color, sex and religion are welcomed. Visitors can enter through one of the 4 entrances of the temple.
The temple itself is lower than the surrounding area so one must step down in order to reach Harmandir Sahib. It also houses Guru Ka Langar which is a 3 storied communal, open kitchen. It serves approximately 40,000 meals daily to devotees and visitors. On entering the gurdwara complex, one will find many shrines to past Sikh gurus, saints and martyrs. There are also many memorials that commemorate past Sikh Historical events, saints and martyrs. It is also believed that Buddha spent some time here.
All this and much more truly make the Golden Temple one of the most sacred and stunning places to visit.