What is Sikhism
Sikh Way of Life
Sikh Gurus
Guru Granth Sahib
Harmandir Sahib
Daily Hukamnama
Sikh Ceremonies
Sikh Festivals
Thai Sikh Journal
Current Issue
Previous Issues
Submit Articles
Events & Calendar
All Events
Community Services
Sport Activities
Other Events
Photo Gallery
Other Downloads
Thai Sikh Organization
About Us
Contact Us
Thai Sikh OrganizationThai Sikh OrganizationThai Sikh OrganizationThai Sikh Organization
::  Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)  ::
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)
The holiest shrine of the Sikhs - Harmandir Sahib, also known as Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple, is situated in Amritsar, Punjab. The Golden Temple is a living symbol of the lofty spiritual and historical traditions of the Sikhs. It is a source of inspiration for all Sikhs and their chief place of pilgrimage.
The history of Harmandir Sahib starts with Guru Amar Das Ji, who took the first step in establishing a place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs. The predominant factor which motivated the Guru for the formation of this idea was the continuity of the tradition of founding new places for the Sikh congregations as followed by his predecessors.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Construction
The secondary factor was the peaceful settling of his future successor Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Amar Das Ji instructed Guru Ram Das Ji to establish a place for himself, to dig a tank and to develop it into a seat of Sikh pilgrimage. To help him with this, Guru Amar Das Ji drew up a plan to excavate the tank, which was actually executed by Guru Ram Das Ji with the assistance of Baba Budha Ji. Construction on the Sarowar (the tank) and the village started simultaneously in 1570 A.D. Finally a total of two tanks, namely Santokhsar and Amrit Sarowar (at a near by site and at a lower level than the other tank) and the village were finally completed in 1577 A.D. The village was now called Ram Das Pur.
The Guru and his disciples were thrilled at the completion of the new pilgrimage centre. Guru Ram Das composed beautiful verses in glorification of the Sarowar, making an injunction upon his followers to take bath in the holy tank and meditate here on the name of God. Soon after its foundation the tank acquired a reputation for sanctity and became the headquarters of the Sikhs.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - The holy bath
In 1581 A.D. Guru Arjan Dev Ji renovated the tank and made it stronger by bricking its side stairs. The Sikhs showed great enthusiasm and devotion for construction of the tank; many volunteered in the construction thus successfully completing it in a short time. Guru Arjan Dev Ji composed a number of hymns in the glory of the sacred tank highlighting the unique virtues of the holy bath in the tank and the benefits gained there from.
The tank was named Amrit Sarowar or Amritsar. Gradually the fame of the sacred tank led to its identity with the latter appellation and the village, which by now became a city, got its final name as 'Amritsar'.
While the tank was under construction, Guru Arjan Dev Ji formed the idea to build a beautiful and central place of worship for the Sikhs, in the middle of the tank. The plan of building Harmandir Sahib was thus conceived by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The plan was executed under his direct control and supervision assisted by Baba Budha, Bhai Gurdas and some other prominent Sikhs. The Guru appointed his trustworthy Sikhs like Bhai Salo, Bhai Bhagtu, Bhai Paira, Bhai Bahlo and Kalyana to supervise the construction work and procure building materials. The assignment of brick-making was entrusted to Bhai Bahlo who was an expert in the art of brick-making.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)
In 1588 A.D. Guru Arjan Dev Ji requested a Muslim saint, Hazrat Mian Mir Ji, to lay down the foundation of the Harmandir Sahib. This is an example of religious harmony showing that God has not made any boundaries of cast, creed and religion.
The construction work of the temple commenced with great enthusiasm. A large number of Sikhs participated in the work. Solid foundation was laid on a level higher than the bottom of the tank with limestone and bricks. Broad walls were built. A bridge connecting the temple with Darshani Deori (entrance gate) was also constructed.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Darshani Deori Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Entrance Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - A bridge connecting the temple with Darshani Deori
Instead of building the Harmandir Sahib on a higher level as was the custom of the traditional Hindu temple architecture, the Guru built it on a lower level than its surrounding ground so that the visitors would have to go down the steps in order to pay homage to the holy shrine.
The other distinguishing feature of the structure of the Harmandir was that unlike the Hindu temples which usually have only one gate, the Harmandir Sahib had gates on all the four sides; representing open entry to all. Thus He made it accessible to every person without any distinction of caste, creed, sex and religion.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Plan
Finally in 1601 A.D. the Harmandir Sahib was completed. It is built on a 67 square feet platform in the centre of the Sarowar (tank), about 150m of water on each side. The temple itself is 40.5 square feet. In addition it also has a door on all the sides. The Darshani Deori (an arch) stands at the shore end of the causeway. The door frame of the arch is about 10ft in height and 8ft 6inches in breath. The door panes are decorated with artistic style. It opens on to the causeway, about 202ft in length and 21ft in width, leading to the main building of the Harmandir Sahib.
The bridge is connected with the 13 feet wide 'Pardakshna' (circumambulatory path). It runs round the main shrine and it leads to the 'Har ki Paure' (steps of God). On the first floor of 'Har ki Paure', there is continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib. The main structure of the Harmandir Sahib is a three-storied one. The front, which faces the bridge, is decorated with repeated cusped arches and the roof of the first floor is at the height of the 26 feet and 9 inches.
Only after three years after its completion, did Guru Arjan Dev Ji install the Granth Sahib in the Harmandir Sahib in 1604. He appointed Baba Budha as its first Granthi i.e. the reader of Guru Granth Sahib. The location of the Granth Sahib here adds to the sanctity and reverence of the Harmandir Sahib. In other words, here lies the heart of Sikhism.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Swaran Mandir
The Harmandir Sahib is surrounded by water, which gives a clandestine look to this piece of architecture. Not only for the grandeur of this pious place, "Temple in Water" has spiritual meanings also. Purity of soul, clarity of thoughts and mind, simplicity of character / nature are also symbolized by water.
Another simile for the Harmandir Sahib can be drawn from "A Ship in Water", which it looks if seen from a certain angle. Like, ship saves and sails us to desired destination, Harmandir Sahib also takes us to near the God almighty.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Interior architecture Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Interior architecture
The Harmandir Sahib got the name of Golden Temple (Swaran Mandir) when its upper part sheathed in richly embossed and highly gilded sheets was covered with gold all around it by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1830 A.D. The marble and inlay work on the Harmandir Sahib was also done during the period of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Gold Plate Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Gold Plate Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Gold Plate Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Gold Plate
The Golden Temple is not only a place of worship but a rallying centre of the Sikh community. It is the heritage of the Sikh people gathered in many centuries.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - The heart of Sikhism
Legends and miracles are connected with the holy tank while great martyrdoms and triumphs are associated with various spots of the temple precincts.
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - Guru Granth Sahib Ji
Around 1740 Massa Ranghar, the ruler of Amritsar desecrated the Temple by using it as a dancing hall. He was killed by Mahtab Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh. In 1761 Ahmed Shah Abdali blew up the Temple with gun powder and filled in the Sacred Tank with debris.
When Baba Deep Singh came to know that Jahan Khan, a general of Abdali, had violated the sanctity of Sri Darbar Sahib, he set out in that direction immediately by only eight Sikhs. On the way large batches of Sikhs joined him. But, at Sangarana, he drew up a line and asked them to cross it over if they were willing to lay down their lives.
Baba Deep Singh
Everyone jumped over the line without hesitation. The great Sikh martyr Baba Deep Singh laid down his life while defending the temple. The Harmandir Sahib was damaged once again by the military action of the Indian government during June 1984. The damaged was since repaired and reconstructed through the labour and contribution of the Sikh community (Sikh Panth).
The temple had been a symbol of the Sikh struggle for independence in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries all important Sikh movements have been led from the precincts of the Golden Temple.
The story of the Golden Temple enshrines many romantic events and numerous tragic incidents which have made deep impact on the history, thought, literature and folklore of the Sikh people.
Shrine Baba Deep Singh - Shaheed
The holy words of Guru Arjan Dev contain the eternal echo:
'Dithe sab thav nahi tudh jehia'.
(I have seen all places, there is not another like thee).
© Copyright 2004-2005 Thai Sikh Organization (Thailand). All rights reserved.
Tel: +66 (0) 2221-1011, Fax: +66 (0) 2224-8095, Email: info@thaisikh.org