The Harmandir Sahib is the holiest shrine in Sikhism and stands magnificently on a holy pool in Punjab, India. Its name in English is the Golden Temple due to the fact that 24 karat pure gold covers much of the outside of the building. Not only does the Sri Harmandir Sahib make for an intriguing cultural visit, but it’s architecturally impressive as well. So, whether you are planning a trip or are just curious to learn more, here are some of the most interesting facts about the Golden Temple of Amritsar in India.
7 Interesting Facts about the Golden Temple of Amritsar in India
1. The Golden Temple is a gurdwara
Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple, is a gurdwara, a place of assembly and worship for Sikhs. Located in the city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab in India, it is the holiest shrine in Sikhism and one of the most historic places in Asia. It is also one of the most famous monuments in India.
2. The Golden Temple of Amritsar dates from the 1500s
Originally, the site was a small ancient lake in a tranquil forest where Buddha is said to have spent time. Then Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of the Sikh religion started visiting this site of contemplation. After his death, his followers continued to visit the site and it became the main sacred shrine of the Sikhs. Over time, Sikh Gurus contained and enlarged the lake. Then, in the 1500s, Guru Ramdas Sahib, the 4th of 10 Sikh gurus, constructed the Hari Mandir or Temple of God – Hari is God.
3. The Golden Temple is on an island
The Golden Temple is part of a complex of buildings that form the heart of Sikhism. It occupies a small island in the centre of a lake and a marble causeway connects the temple building to land on its west side. Also in the complex are the Akal Takht, the Teja Singh Samudri Hall (Clock Tower), and the Assembly Hall. You’ll also find the Guru Ram Das Langur on the complex which is a huge dining hall that serves meals to thousands of pilgrims and visitors each day.
4. The Temple lake is the pool of ambrosial nectar
The original ancient lake’s name is the Amrita Saras “pool of ambrosial nectar” – and it is where the city’s name comes from. Amritsar is also the name of the temple complex. Sikhs consider the pool holy and purifying, and Sikhs can bathe in it from the outer platform. When you visit you can see temple workers filling buckets of water for the worshippers.
5. The Golden Temple is open to all worshippers
The Golden Temple has a unique Sikh architecture, as workers built it at a level lower than the surrounding land. This is to represent or signify egalitarianism and humility. The four entrances of the gurdwara are in all four directions to represent or signify that it is open to worshippers of all castes and creeds. Experts describe the architectural style as a mixture of Indo-Islamic Mughal and Hindu Rajput.
6. Pure gold covers the Sri Harmandir Sahib
The Golden Temple is dedicated to Hari (God), and its English name, the Golden Temple, comes from the fact that 750 kilos of pure gold cover the upper floors. The sanctum has two storeys and a gold leaf dome and there is gold on the four entrance domes. It looks resplendent especially when the sun rays bounce off it.
7. The Golden Temple houses the Guru Granth Sahib
Within the Temple, on a jewel-studded platform, lies the Guru Granth Sahib, the central holy religious scripture of Sikhism. The sacred scripture is a collection of poems, prayers, and hymns composed by the ten Sikh gurus as well as various Muslim and Hindu saints.