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The Golden Temple, India
The Golden Temple history
The Golden Temple is surrounded by a large man-made lake – a lake which is closely linked to the temple and the surrounding city. In 1573 the construction of the lake started under supervision of the fourth guru of Sikhism; Guru Ram Das Ji. The lake stood complete four years later, in 1577.
During this time, a city began to grow around the lake. The name of the city was originally “Ramdaspur” - after the guru - but it was later changed. As the city became associated with the construction of the lake, the city simply took the same name as the lake itself. Therefore, both the city and the lake carry the name Amritsar.
The construction of the Golden Temple itself started in 1588 under the leadership of the fifth guru; Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The story says that a close friend of the guru was asked to lay the foundation stone of the building. After the stone had been laid, a mason straightened the stone which, to which the guru said “..as you have just undone the work of such a holy man, who knows what disaster might come.”
This story has been used as an explanation to why the Golden Temple has been attacked so many times, including attacks from Afghans, Mughals and even the Indian army.
Attacks on the Golden Temple
The majority of these attacks happened during mid 18th century. This was the period when the temple was attacked numerous times by Afgahn raiders. The raiders caused severe damage to the temple complex, which resulted in a restoration of the temple in 1764.
Another major assault on the Golden Temple was in 1984 when the Indian army attacked during the so called “Operation Bluestar”. The Indian army had order to move in to the temple area and remove Sikh militants who was believe to amass weapons inside the area. The operation ended in bloody gunfights between the militants and the army, resulting in large casualties on both sides.
The attack on the Sikh holy shrine - and they way it was carried out - was and still is highly controversial. Only months after the attack, the Indian Prime Minister of the time, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards. The army attack on the temple lead to extensive restoration work on the temple area.
Why visit the Golden Temple ?
“I have seen many places, but none like thee”
This quote is from Guru Arjan Dev Ji, as he looked at the Golden Temple. These words captures in many ways the mood and ambience at the Harmandir Sahib, which is the temples real name. Few places combine amazing surroundings with a calm and peaceful atmosphere better than the Golden Temple.
The area surrounding the temple holds more than just the Golden Temple. The Darbar Sahib temple complex, which the place is often called, consists of many Sikh shrines, temples and other holy places.
Three holy trees can also be found inside the temple area, each one associated with a historical event or a Sikh saint. In the middle of the temple are stands the crown jewel; the Golden Temple surrounded by the lake. The lakes name, Amritsar, translates to “Lake of the immortal nectar”.
Ever since its completion in 1604, Harmandir Sahib is seen as one of the most, if not the most important temple of Sikhism. It has become somewhat of a pilgrimage center as all Sikhs try to visit the temple at least once during their life. One of the main reasons for this is that the holy script of the Sikhs, the Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is kept inside the Golden Temple.
This holy script consists of 1430 parts, written in period of Sikh gurus between 1469 and 1709. During the day, the script is read non-stop inside the temple and describes what God is like and what the right way to live is.
Each side of the Golden Temple has an entrance, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness and to show that the temple is open to all – regardless of religion, race or sex. This is what the Golden Temple stands for today: a place where all people are welcome.
The Golden Temple location
The Golden Temple is located in Punjab, northern India. It lies next to the lake Amritsar, in the southern parts of the city with the same name. The easiest way to reach the Golden Temple from afar is by airplane. The Amritsar Airport lies in close proximity to the temple.
For the exact location of the Golden Temple, check out the location map to the right.
Golden Temple resources
The Golden Temple. (GFDL) Poco a Poco.
Details on the exterior. (GFDL) Poco a Poco.
Illuminated temple. (GFDL) Poco a Poco.
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our India map.
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