The Golden Temple in Amritsar, also known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, is a prominent Gurdwara considered holy by Sikhs around the world. This beautiful structure was constructed to be a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life to come together and worship God.
When the gurdwara was first built in 1574, it was surrounded by a small lake in a forest. It was Guru Ram Das who enlarged the lake and built a township around it. Although it was completed in 1604, it was attacked by Afghans in the 18th Century and had to be rebuilt.
Devotees enter the temple through an ornate archway with intricate inlay work. The most noticeable feature is its dome – said to be glided with a hundred kilograms of gold. Shaped like an inverted lotus, the dome signifies the Sikhs’ concerns with the problems of this world.A bridge also extends from the Gurdwara to the Akal Takhat, the governing body of religious authority for Sikhs. Many people are known to learn to speak Hindi in order to read the verses from the Granth Sahib that are inscribed on the doorways.
The nightly prayer ceremony that takes place inside is televised worldwide for Sikhs. Everyday a healthy meal is prepared and distributed to the tens of thousands of pilgrims. This meal is known as Langar. Today, the Golden temple is one of the most socially and religiously revered structures in the world and an essential element of Indian culture.