Harmandir Sahib or Golden Temple
With a part of the land granted by Emperor Akbar, the foundation stone laid by a Muslim Sufi Saint, Mian Mir, the construction was completed in 1601. Free kitchen and recitation of the divine word never cease here. Its four gates invite everyone from all directions, the scripture is unique, and it contains the divine message as received by saints, bhagats and pirs of all the faiths of India.
The Baisakhi and Diwali fairs in April and October every year are celebrated with great fervor and gusto.On the fair of Baisakhi all the jewelry in the toshakhana (treasury) of the temple, which consist of indescribable ornaments, is displayed around Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Diwali of Amritsar is out-of-the-world. The entire Golden Temple is illuminated with traditional lamps of different colours. The reflection of the temple in the shimmering water of the holy pool binds the eye, to the many-a-splendoured pageant. Fire works display by the traditional professionals recreates the glory of the times gone past
The principle of universal participation was extended to the planning and execution of the project. All Sikhs in all congregations had a role in building this noble edifice to their faith. Their participation took two forms: voluntary labor (sewa) at the site, and a donation (daswandh) of ten percent of their income to support the construction. The foundation of the temple was laid down in 1589 by Guru Arjun Dev - Nanak V (1563-1606). His great contemporary Muslim mystic, Mir Mohammed Muayyinul Islam, popularly known as Mian Mir was requested to lay the foundation stone. The great Sikh secular leader, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, donated 100 kgs of gold to the temple and thus gold was applied to the copper sheets on the roof and the exterior of the building. The construction of the temple was completed in late sixteenth century. The Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1803, rebuilt it. It is a two storey marble structure, with an imposing dome of pure gold. The architecture of the Temple is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles. The golden dome is meant to represent an inverted lotus flower and the interior of the temple is decorated with semi precious stones, frescoes and glasswork. The gnarled old Jubi Tree in the northwest corner of the compound is believed to possess special powers. The Golden Temple's first high priest, Baba Buddhaya, planted it. Guru-ka-Langar or the communal canteen is towards the eastern entrance of the temple complex providing free food to all visitors, regardless of colour, creed, or caste.
Information for tourists
Pilgrims and visitors to the Golden Temple must remove their shoes and cover their heads, before entering the temple premises. There is a community kitchen that serves free meals to thousands of people everyday. Here, anyone from any religion can have food together. Volunteers from the temple help with the kitchen jobs and other works. The atmosphere in the golden temple is exceptionally peaceful and beautiful. The best time to visit the temple is early in the morning, on weekdays.
'Adi Granth' (original Holy Book of the Sikhs) is kept in the temple as the focus of devotion and teaching and read here continuously. From the very day the first copy of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib was taken ceremonially to the Harmandir, till the present time, it is customary to take it with the same ceremony every morning from the Akal Takht-where it is kept each night-to the Harmandir.