The Golden Temple, Amritsar

Wednesday, 7th January 2009 by

In the Indian state of Punjab, Harmandir Sahib (The Temple of God) - commonly known as the Golden Temple - is the most sacred place of worship for the Sikh religion.

In the 1570s the fourth Sikh guru created a pool named Amrit Sarovar - Lake of Immortal Nectar. Over time the city which developed around this area took the shortened name Amritsar. The first temple was completed in 1604 to house the Sikh holy book known as Guru Granth Sahib which in 1708 was named as the perpetual guru of the Sikh faith, ending the human lineage of gurus.

The main temple in the centre of the pool is a blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles and is coated with pure gold (estimates vary from 100kg to 750kg!) It has a door on each side to signify that people of all faiths are welcome.

The temple is connected by a causeway to the Akal Takhat, or traditional Sikh Parliament, to which the book is returned every evening and retrieved the following morning, all with great ceremony.

Surrounding the pool are a marble walkway, shrines, museums and offices. There is also accommodation for pilgrims and, to the south-east, a volunteer-run community kitchen and dining hall which provides simple free meals to tens of thousands of visitors every day.

Wikimedia has some excellent pictures.

Thanks to D. Sambhi.