Gurudwara Darbar Sahib - Amritsar
Amritsar, located in Northern Punjab, which is close to the border of Pakistan.
Associated with :
Baba Atal ji
• The Harmandir Sahib (ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ) or Darbar Sahib (ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ ), informally referred to as The Golden Temple, is culturally the most significant shrine of the Sikhs and one of the oldest Sikh Gurudwara. It is located in the city of Amritsar, which was established by Guru Ram Das, the fourth guru of the Sikhs and is known as "guru di nagri" meaning city of the Sikh Guru.
• The Harmandir Sahib is considered holy by Sikhs because the eternal Guru of Sikhism, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is always present inside in 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 7th 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.
• Its name literally meaning, House of God. The fourth Guru of Sikhism, [Guru Ram Das], excavated a tank in 1577 AD 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 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 Sikhi Gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosophies e.g. Baba Farid, Kabir, etc. The compilation of the Adi Granth was started by the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
Gurudwara Darbar Sahib
Originally built during 1574 AD, 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, at 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 AD). 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 temple was completed in 1604. Guru Arjan Dev, installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it and appointed Baba Buddha Ji as the first Granthi (Reader) of it on August 1604 AD. In the mid 18th century it was attacked by the Afghans, by one of Ahmed Shah Abdali's Generals, Jahan Khan, and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s. However, in response a Sikh Army was sent to hunt down the Afghan force. They were under orders to show no mercy and historical evidence suggests none was shown. Both forces met each other 5 miles outside Amritsar; Jahan Khan's army was destroyed. He himself was decapitated by commander Sardar Dayal Singh.
The Harmandir Sahib Complex and areas in its vicinity
• The temple is surrounded by a large lake of water, 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 Abraham in the Old Testament -- his 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 signifiying a historical event or Sikh saint. Inside the temple there 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 one and two. For a new visitor the first recommended place to visit is the information Office highlighted in the map and followed by visiting the Sikh Central museum near the main entrance and clock tower. Anyone who wants to enter the Harmandir Sahib may do so, irrespective of religion, colour, creed or sex. The only restrictions are that the person must not drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke cigarettes or other drugs while in the shrine. Visitors are, as well, expected to dress appropriately and everyone must cover their heads as a sign of respect, remove their shoes and wash their feet in the small pool of water as they enter the Harmandir Sahib premises. Head scarves are provided. All Sikh temples (Gurdwaras) in the world follow this traditional rule that everyone is welcome to enter. There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, meaning that Harmandir sahib is open to anyone.
The Amritsar area
Amritsar is located in the Majha region of the Punjab. Majha is also known as the Bari Doab, since it is the Doab (Do = two, ab = rivers) or the (fluvial) tract of land which lies between two of the five great rivers of the province, the Ravi and the Beas. As such, Majha lies in the heart of the ancient Punjab region, comprised of Gurdaspur, Batala and Tarn Taran Sahib as well as Amritsar.