The Golden Temple which is popularly known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib among its devotees, is the holiest shrine of Sikhism. Harmandir Sahib, situated in Amritsar, Punjab, was built by the fifth guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev Ji in 16th century.It is situated in the middle of a lake or temple tank known as ‘sarovar’. After the completion of Adi Granth (holy scripture), on 1st September, 1604, it was placed in the Gurudwara by Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
In 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh covered the Gurudwara with gold, which gives it a distinctive look and its English name, the Golden Temple.
Originally built in 1573, the site of the Gurudwara was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The construction of lake took place under the supervision of fourth guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das Ji, which was completed after four years in 1577.
The construction of the Gurudwara was initiated by Guru Arjan Dev Ji but the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib was laid by a Sufi Saint Mian Mir in December 1588. The Gurudwara was completed in 1604.
The Gurudwara has four entrances, which is a symbol that all the people irrespective of caste, creed, color, or class are welcomed here. But to pay homage one has to go through ‘Darshani Deori’.
Here unlike other religious buildings, which is usually built on a higher place, it was built at a lower level than the surroundings so one must step down in order to reach Harmandir Sahib.
Akal Takhat which means the “Throne of the Timeless God” is also situated within the complex of Harmandir Sahib. Akal Takhat is known as the highest seat for the Sikh authority.
Akal Takhat was built by the sixth guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Ji and it is a symbol of political sovereignty of Sikhs.
While the Golden Temple stands for spiritual guidance, the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activity.
The Jathedar of the Akal Takhat is called the highest spokesperson of the Sikh religion.