The Golden temple is also known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib. It is a significant Sikh temple, which is located in the city of Amritsar. It is the central Gurdwara or Sikh place of worship the world over. Thousands of people visit the Golden Temple every year and is one of the most visited places in Punjab. The proper name is Harmandir which means "temple of God", while some refer it to as darbar, which means "court". The Golden Temple has some unique features.
The temple is overlaid in the center of a sarovar or pool. The pilgrims bathe in the pool. People believe that the water has healing properties that can cure many diseases.
People gather here to listen to hymns, and also pay respect to the Guru Granth Sahib Holy Scripture being read here. Langar - a meal provided to all the pilgrims who visit is a free meal which is prepared in the Golden Temple. The preparations are carried out by worshipers and pilgrims and volunteers. Donations are made by people, which is used for the cost of the meal and maintenance of the temple.
The lessons taught here are of egalitarianism and humility. The four entrances symbolize the unity of people from all walks of life.
The history of The Golden Temple begins from 1574, when Akbar the Mughal Emperor gifted the land to the daughter of the third Guru Amar Das, when she married Jetha who later became the fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das. In 1577, Guru Ram Das started to construct a fresh water tank. In 1588, Guru Arjun Dev, the son of Guru Ram Das and also the fifth guru, oversaw the foundation of the temple. He also completed the construction and compiled the Adi Granth after five years. In 1606, Guru Har Govind set the foundation stone of the Akal Takht, which is the throne of the spiritual authority. In 1699, Bhai Mani Singh was appointed curator of the temple.
After the attack of the Afghan king in 1757, Maharaja Ranjit Singh sponsored marble inlay, the gold plating in 1830. However, in 1984, the Golden Temple was attacked by Sikh separatists and the Indian army troops fought into the temple compound and killed around 500 Sikh rebels. 100 Indian soldiers died here that took place for several hours.
The Golden Temple has a unique architectural style and is built at a level lower than the ground. There are four entrances here known by various names. The temple is a two storey marble structure and can be reached by the Guru's bridge. The upper floor is gold plated and crowned with a dome and the lower floor is made with white marble and has walls decorated with motifs. The architecture is a great blend of Hindu and Muslim styles.
The Golden Temple can be visited anytime. The time of festivals can be the best time to visit the temple. However, this period attracts huge crowds. Summer is too hot and winter too cold. So the best time to visit is October and March.