Golden Temple Amritsar | Amritsar Hotels
About Harmandir Sahib | Golden Temple:
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib ,also referred to as the Golden Temple,is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab (India). Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan. In 1604, Guru Arjan completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the Gurdwara. In 1634, Guru Hargobind left Amritsar for the Sivalik Hills and for the remainder of the seventeenth century the city and gurdwara was in the hands of forces hostile to the Sikh Gurus.During the eighteenth century, the Harmandir Sahib was the site of frequent fighting between the Sikhs on one side and either Mughal or Afghan forces on the other side and the gurdwara occasionally suffered damage. 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 English name of "Golden Temple".
General Information Harmandir Sahib |Golden Temple :
The Golden Temple is considered holy by Sikhs because the eternal guru of Sikhism, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is always present inside it and its construction was mainly intended to build a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religion to come and worship God equally.The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the holiest literature in the Sikh religion, the tenth guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, on 7 October 1708 at Nanded made it the eternal Sikh Guru and the leader of Sikhism. Anywhere in the world where the Guru Granth Sahib is present is equally holy and precious to Sikhs. Amritsar is the location of Harmandir Sahib.
History of Golden temple | Harmandir Sahib :
Its name literally means Temple of God.The fourth guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, excavated a tank in 1577 CE which subsequently became known as Amritsar (meaning "Pool of the Nectar of Immortality"),giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, a splendid Sikh edifice, Harmandir Sahib (meaning "the abode of God"),rose 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 Dev.
Construction of the Harmandir Sahib | Golden temple:
Originally built in 1574, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The third of the six grand Mughals, Emperor Akbar, who visited the third Sikh guru, Guru Amar Das, in the neighbouring town of Goindval, was so impressed by the way of life in the town that he gave a jagir (the land and the revenues of several villages in the vicinity) to the guru's daughter Bhani as a gift on her marriage to Bhai Jetha, who later became the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. Guru Ram Das enlarged the lake and built a small township around it. The town was named after Guru Ram Das as Guru Ka Chak', Chak Ram Das or Ram Das Pura.
During the leadership of the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev (1581–1606), the full-fledged Temple was built. In December 1588, the great Muslim Sufi saint of Lahore, Hazrat Mian Mir, who was a close friend of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, initiated the construction of the temple by laying the first foundation stone (December 1588 CE). A mason then straightened the stone but Guru Arjan Dev told him that, as he had undone the work just completed by the holy man, a disaster might come to the Harmandir Sahib. It was later attacked by the Mughals.
The Harmandir Sahib Complex and areas in its vicinity:
The temple is surrounded by a large lake, known as the Sarovar, which consists of Amrit ("holy water" or "immortal nectar"). There are four entrances to the temple, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness; ostensibly, this concept is reminiscent of the tent of the Old Testament patriarch Abraham, whose tent was open on all four sides in order to be able to welcome travelers from all directions. Inside the temple complex there are many shrines to past Sikh gurus, saints and martyrs (see map). There are three holy trees (bers), each signifying a historical event or Sikh saint. Inside the temple there are many memorial plaques that commemorate past Sikh historical events, saints, martyrs and includes commemorative inscriptions of all the Sikh soldiers who died fighting in World Wars I and II.
Maintaining the purity of the sacred space and of one's body while in it:
Upon entering the premises, removing one's shoes (leaving them off for the duration of one's visit) and washing one's feet in the small pool of water provided;
Not drinking alcohol, eating meat, or smoking cigarettes or other drugs while in the shrine
Wearing a head covering (a sign of respect) (the temple provides head scarves for visitors who have not brought a suitable covering);
Not wearing shoes (see above).
First-time visitors are advised to begin their visit at the information office highlighted in the map and then proceed to the Central Sikh Museum near the main entrance and clock tower.
Artwork and monument sculptures of Golden Temple:
Much of the present decorative gilding and marblework dates from the early 19th century. All the gold and exquisite marble work were conducted under the patronage of Hukam Singh Chimni and Emperor Ranjit Singh, Maharaja of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab. The Darshani Deorhi Arch stands at the beginning of the causeway to the Harmandir Sahib; it is 202 feet (62 m) high and 21 feet (6 m) in width. The gold plating on the Harmandir Sahib was begun by Emperor Ranjit Singh and was finished in 1830. The Sher-e-Punjab (Lion of the Punjab) was a major donor of wealth and materials for the shrine and is remembered with much affection by the Punjabi people in general and the Sikh community in particular. Maharaja Ranjit Singh also built two of the other most sacred temples in Sikhism. This was because Maharaja Ranjit Singh had a deep love for the tenth guru of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh. The other two most sacred temples in Sikhism, which he built, are Takht Sri Patna Sahib (intiation or birth place of Guru Gobind Singh) and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, the place of Guru Gobind Singh's Sikh ascension into heaven.
Celebrations at Harmandir Sahib | Golden Temple:
One of the most important festivals is Vaisakhi, which is celebrated in the second week of April (usually the 13th). Sikhs celebrate the founding of the Khalsa on this day and it is celebrated with fervour in the Harmandir Sahib. Other important Sikh religious days such as the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, the birthday of Guru Nanak, etc., are also celebrated with religious piety. Similarly Diwali is one of the festivals which sees the Harmandir Sahib beautifully illuminated with Divas/Diyas (lamps); lights and fireworks are discharged. During these special occasions many thousands of people visit the holy shrine named Harmandir Sahib.
Most Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Harmandir Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly and mostly during special occasions in their life such as birthdays, marriages, childbirth, etc.
Reaching the Harmandir Sahib / Golden Temple from abroad:
For the global Sikh pilgrim or international tourist visitor the fastest way to reach the Harmandir Sahib is by air travel. The holy city of Amritsar, where the Harmandir Sahib is located, has a rapidly expanding modern airport called Amritsar International Airport. The airport can be reached directly by the international traveller from most major cities of the world including London and Toronto. Moreover, there is a rapidly expanding array of international hotels in the holy city that can be booked for overnight stays. Lonely Planet Bluelist 2008 has voted the Harmandir Sahib as one of the world’s best spiritual sites.
Amritsar's international airport, Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, has more than 200 domestic and international flights during the week with daily connections to Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu.
Amritsar is well connected with daily trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore, Bhopal, Agra, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Ujjain, Ahmedabad, Pune and other major Indian cities. Amritsar Railway Station is the main station. There is a special train that runs west to Wagah (Attari Border), which is the last station on the border in India before continuing on to Pakistan.
Indian Railways has proposed a high speed rail line to serve Delhi-Amritsar via Chandigarh and Ambala. The train is to run at high speeds of 350 km/h, second only in India to the Bhopal Shatabdi Express. It will travel the 445 km between the two cities in 2.5 hours (compared to the current time of 5 hours). Companies from Japan, China, UK and Canada have expressed an interest in the project. The contract for building the line were to be awarded at the end of May 2008. Other lines of this kind have proposed in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Kolkata.
Amritsar is located on the historic Grand Trunk Road(G.T Road) also known as National Highway 1 and therefore, very well connected to the road network. Daily bus services run to and from Ambala, Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu. A sum of Rs 450 crores is being spent to expand the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of G.T. Road to four lanes. In 2010, elevated road with four lanes connected to the National highway for better access to the Golden Temple has been started.
For transportation within Amritsar city, rickshaws, autorickshaws, taxis and buses are easily available. Recently, the government of India and Punjab pledged Rs. 2,100 Crore for the development of a Mass Rapid Transport system for the city. It is hoped that this will help in relieving traffic congestion and improving air quality.
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