Amristar, located in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab, is any traveller’s pride for the multiple choices of travel destinations, the exotic Punjabi cuisine and for some delightful shopping experiences. The Golden Temple located in Amristar is indeed a sight galore and a must visit for all the many reasons it is credited to have topped Bharat’s rich heritage list. The Golden Temple or The Harmandir Sahib as it is otherwise called is the foremost pilgrim center of the Sikhs. The famed Wagha Border- the line dividing the borders of India and Pakistan is the next major tourist attraction in the district. The Jallian Wallah Bagh, an enclosed park located near The Golden Temple and chronicled in the history of India’s freedom fights as a garden that bore the death marks of hundreds of Indians on the Black Day of 19th April 1919 is yet another place to visit while you are in Amristar.
As per popular belief, it was Guru Ramdas- the fourth of the Ten Gurus of the Sikh Religion, who laid down the foundations of the holy town in 15th century. A faction of people believes that the Guru purchased hectares of land from the neighboring villages in order to build the city. Many others believe that the land was gifted to Bibi Bhani- the daughter of Guru Amar Das, when she married Guru Ram Das. The city was first called Ramdaspur or Chakke Guru after Guru Ram Das. The fourth Guru is believed to have dug the holy tank that surrounds the Golden Temple. However it was his son, Guru Arjan Das, who completed the construction of the tank and also built the Harimandar shrine or the Golden Temple in the middle of the tank. Amrit means nectar and Sar means pool and hence the place was renamed Amritsar-“The Land of Nectar”.
Here is a peep into the first definite visit that you should surely not let go while you are at one of India’s rich heritage cities.
The Golden Temple: The gold gilded temple is magnificent in every perspective. The temple spells an air of indescribable potpourri of divinity and a stark mesmerizing structural beauty. Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru of the Sikh, built the temple in 1588. An interesting fact to note was that in order to quench the Hindu-Muslim upheavals that were on the rise during that time, Guru Arjan invited his Muslim friend and saint, Mian Mir, to lay the foundation stone of the temple. The Sikh Gurus always wanted their religion to have a common ground between Islam and Hinduism. The Sikh temple was at first a simple structure without any fanfare. It was Maharaja Ranjith Singh, who restored the temple with marble panels and plated the two upper levels of the temple with 100kg of gold thereby giving it a completely new look.
A dip in the Amrit Sarovar, the pond around the temple is said to be very holy and even cure ailments. The temple has 4 entries, all of which are constructed in such a way that you need to climb down a series of steps to enter, signifying the fact that God is above you and you need to bow down before him. The 4 gateways signify that people of all religion and creed are welcome inside.
You need to remove your footwear at the cloak room and wash your feet at small pools of water provided at all four entries. Carry a small scarf to cover your head before entering the temple.
You can even buy small orange scarfs for Rs.10/- from the numerous vendors outside the temple gates but you must cover your hair completely while entering the temple.