The Harmandir Sahib literally means the Temple of God. Guru Amar Das had ordered Guru Ram Das to create a nectarous tank as a place for worship for the Sikh religion.
Guru Arjan conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and designed it. Earlier the planning to excavate the holy tank (Amritsar or Amrit Sarovar) was chalked out by Guru Amar Das, the Third Sikh Guru, but it was executed by Guru Ram Das under the supervision of Baba Budha.
The land for the site was acquired by the earlier Guru Sahibs on payment or free of cost from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. The plan to establish a town settlement was also made and the construction work on the Sarovar (the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The work on both projects was completed in 1577. In December 1588, Guru Arjan initiated the construction of the gurdwara and the foundation stone was laid by Hazrat Mian Mir on 28 December 1588.
The gurdwara was completed in 1604. Guru Arjan installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it and appointed Baba Buddha as the first Granthi (reader) of it in August 1604. 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.