Harmandir Sahib

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The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple

Harmandir Sahib or Hari Mandir (Punjabi: ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ) is the most sacred gurdwara in all of Sikhism, located in Amritsar, Punjab, India. It was previously known as the Golden Temple, but was renamed in March 2005 by the SGPC. The temple is the most important sacred shrine for the Sikhs, who travel from all parts of the world to enjoy the blissful environments and offer their thanks by giving prayers. In addition, the sacred shrine is increasingly becoming a tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world. The Temple is located at 31° 37′ 12″ N, 74° 52′ 37″ E.

The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple



Originally during 1574, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake, in a thin forest. The lake was enlarged and a small township was established during the leadership of the fourth Sikh Guru (Guru Ram Das, 1574-1581). It was during the leadership of the fifth Guru (Guru Arjan, 1581-1606), that full fledged Temple was built. The land on which it was built was gifted to Guru Ram Das by the Mughal emperor Akbar. A Muslim saint Hazrat Mian Mir of Lahore in December 1588 initiated the construction of the building by laying the foundation stone. It was completed in 1601. The temple was later attacked and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s.

Amritsar is one of the most ancient and legendary sites in the Punjab. The origin of the place where the Sri Hari Mandir stands is shrouded in mystery. Some trace its origin to the pre-historic, Vedic-epic period as a place of considerable religious importance in the form of a Amrit Kund (Spring of Nectar). But the site seems to have lost its eminence under the sway of the Buddhist movement, which swept away most of the important Hindu holy places. According to popular belief – Valmiki wrote his celebrated epic, the Ramayana, near around this hallowed site of the "Pool of Nectar". It was here, too, that Sita stayed during the period of her vanavasa (banishment). Here again, the twin sons of Lord Rama, were taught the Ramayana. Yet another legend identifies the site of this pool with the place where the whole of Lord Rama's army was destroyed by his sons, Lava and Kusa, and relates how at that time a jug of nectar descended from heaven to restore the soldiers to life.

Valmiki's ashram, it is said, lay within a short distance of the renowned "Pool of Nectar". In Valmiki's time, the area was a thick forest. There were around Valmiki's ashram some more tanks with historical associations. One such hexagonal tank, Ram Tirth, is at a distance of around 1.1 kilometres from Amritsar; the others are Ramsar, Santokhsar, Ram Talai and Durgiana. Guru Ram Das must have known-the legendary importance of the place when he sanctified the pool of nectar in the sixteenth century.

The temple is surrounded by a pool of water, known as the Sarovar. There are four entrances to the temple, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness. Anyone who wants to enter the Golden Temple may do so, irrespective of religion, colour, creed or sex. The only restrictions are that the person must not drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke cigarettes or other drugs while in the shrine. All Sikh temples in the world follow this traditional rule that everyone is welcome to enter.


Much of the present decorative gilding and marblework date from the early 1800s. All the gold and exquisite marble work were conducted under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The legendary warrior king was a heavy donor of wealth and materials for the shrine and is remembered with much affection by the Sikh community and Punjabi people.

Recent events

On July 6, 2005 the SGPC decided to install closed circuit television cameras around the Harmandir Complex and will be adding more security due to other attacks in India on other religious areas.

Operation Blue Star

Main article: Operation Blue Star

In June 5-6, 1984 Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star, a military assault on the Golden Temple, which had been occupied by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his militant supporters with a heavy cache of arms. Gandhi ordered the army to fight its way into the main shrine where Sikh militants had established their headquarters. The army unit involved was headed by Major General Kuldip Singh Brar, GOC, 9 Infantry Division. The occupiers refused to depart from their holiest shrine and a firefight ensued, with many killed and injured.

Sikhs everywhere were outraged at the desecration and their alienation was deep and had dramatic consequences: on October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh.

The temple was later repaired to correct the damage made by the militants and the military. Common people helped in that by acting as Kar Sevaks.

The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple

In film and television

Notable visits

  • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip — October 14, 1997
  • Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs— John Manley —January 2002
  • Prime Minister of Canada— Jean Chretien —October 2003
  • Television Presenter and Actor; Michael Palin 2004
  • Indian President— A.P.J. Abdul Kalam —August 2004
  • Indian Prime Minister— Manmohan Singh —September 2004
  • British Foreign Secretary— Jack Straw —February 2005

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