Golden Temple In Amritsar, Punjab, India
Among the most prominent heritage sites in India that have made an impact in the world is the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
We were at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on the 11th March 2018.
Amritsar is a town in the north-western Indian state of Punjab, 28 kilometres from the border
with Pakistan. At the centre of its walled old town, the gilded Golden Temple also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib is the holiest most important pilgrimage site of Sikh religion.
The temple is built around a man-made pool that was completed by Guru Ram Das in 1577. It was repeatedly rebuilt couple of times and in 1809 it was rebuilt in marble and copper and then overlaid it with gold foil in 1830.
It was unimaginable and mind blowing what we saw at the Golden temple at Amritsar.
Since it was a Sunday -hundreds and thousands of people were going to worship. Wow! It was a breath-taking spectacle, full of colourful people from all faiths and nationalities. The women were all very pretty with their magnificent colourful Punjabi / Salwa dresses. The fair complexion and the perfect makeup added more to the beauty. On arrival at the Golden Temple, both men and women are required to wear a scarf over their head (don’t worry if you forget to bring a scarf as headscarves are sold outside at a very cheap price). All visitors must remove their shoes and wash their feet by walking through pools before entering the temple.
You don’t have to queue to get into the Golden Temple but be aware that the street leading up to the temple is bustling. It can also be busy around the shoe cloakroom.
The only place where you will have to queue is to get into the inner temple where the holy book is kept. Queue times can differ greatly depending on the time of day but allow for anything between 30 mins – 2 hours. The good news is there are fans along the causeway to help keep you cool.
At the temple they served food free to all the devotees. Langar (Punjabi = kitchen) is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. The free meal is always vegetarian. At one given time over 500 people sat in rows on the floor and ate together. Preparation of food, serving and cleaning and maintenance was done by over 100s of Sikh community volunteers.
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At the langar, all people had a vegetarian meal and was allowed to eat as much as they want.
They continuously served food from 12 – 2pm and 7 – 9pm. On average, 100,000 people are served meals each day. All very well organised. You get chapathis, two curries and sago like rice pudding mixed with milk and also, they served hot water to drink. I went to the temple in the morning and also in the night to see the beautiful illumination. We also went in the queue and sat with others to have meals.
Interesting Facts about the Golden Temple in India
1. The Golden Temple is also referred to as “Darbar Sahib” or “Harmandar Sahib” and is one of the oldest worship places for the Indian Sikh. It is located in Amritsar, Punjab.
2. The entire top of the temple is made of pure gold, adding to the beauty of the temple.
3. The temple is surrounded by a manmade lake that boasts a lot of exotic fish in it. To
get to the temple, you will literally have to walk on water
4. The temple is entered from four different sides to show openness and acceptance.
5. The temple was initially built without any gold coating. It is during the reign of
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the ruler of Punjab in the early 19th century that the temple
went under full renovation and made into what it is today.
6. Before the temple was built, the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak, used to meditate
at the site. It was not until the fifth Guru, Guru Arjana that the temple was built.
7. The manmade lake around the temple is known as ‘Amrit Sarovar’ which is translated
as ‘Pool of Holy Nectar’.
8. The temple is considered holy such that 35% of the pilgrims that visit it are from faiths
other than Sikh.
9. The Langar at the Golden temple serves up to 200,000 people during special religious
events. Amazingly, all the food served are donations from faithful.
10. With hand painted mosaics and patterns, the Golden temple is one of the most
significant symbols of Mughal and Indian architectural genius.
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