Golden Temple

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Helicopter view of the Golden Temple. This pic is found in many shops. Extreme right is east side entrance. Walk clockwise to see the watchtower on south side. Just outside watchtower is a ancient Shiv temple. Extreme left of pic is Akal Takht. In front of it two saffron flags are Nishan Sahib. Top centre tower is northern entrance. In the centre is Golden Temple. Most people enter from the eastern or northern entrances. Sikh Museum is on first floor, entrance north side tower.

In the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama is this board. He gold plated the temple after which it came to be known as Golden Temple although its earlier name was Hari Mandir. Why Hari? Khushwant Singh wrote that of the 15,028 times the name of God appears in the Adi Granth, Hari occurs over 8,000 times. That might be the reason why it was named Hari Mandir. Ranjit Singh also donated gold for the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir and temple at Jwalamukhi in Himachal Pradesh.

The temple is in Amritsar that literally means The Tank of Nectar. This visit was also special since my fathers name is Amrit. We present pics in two parts. Start with parikrama or circumabulation of the temple. You also see taking of the Guru Granth Sahib from temple to Akal Takht at night and in morning. Two captures the temple complex at various times of day and night. You see entrance with temple in the centre. Like all temples main entrance is from the eastern side.

As I was about to walk into the temple saw these men in warrior dress. We have analysed their dress and arms later. Second person left to right took some convincing to be clicked.

A horizontal view of the temple entrance with Golden Temple in the centre. On left of entrance is the Langar or community kitchen.

You see east side of Hari Mandir with amrit sarovar or holy tank in front. Pic taken about 8am. Left of pic is a huge Dish Antenna, required since proceedings are telecast live through satellite TV.

This pic gives you a first view of the temple complex as soon as you enter. A 38 feet wide promenade that you see in front runs around the holy tank. Before that one can take a dip in the holy tank. Board that you see on left is Tharha Sahib about which will read about later.

This is Dukh Bhanji Sahib. Maximum number of devotees take a dip here although some do on the right of the tree as well. In Indian tradition devotees take a bath before going to sanctum for darshan. This is the holy place where after having a holy dip Bibi Rajnis crippled husband became healthy again.

Board of Dukh Bhanji Sahib. Due to constant flow of devotees walking the pic has reflection. Guru Ram Das told Bibi Rajni that her selfless service, determination and power of the holy place helped her crippled husband become healthy. Hence he named it Dukh Bhanji Sahib.

Devotees taking the holy dip, some praying. There are steps that lead to the waters of the holy tank. The Steps are called Har-ki-Pauri. Excavation of Sarovar was started by Guru Ram Das in 1574, stopped in 1575 after his death and completed in 1589 during Guru Arjun time.

Left of pic see devotee drinking the holy water. In centre devotee sweeping the floor. I truly admire devotees doing sewa or service in the temple. Hope devotees in all temples follow their example. Pic taken about 9pm.

Left of temple entrance is Tharha Sahib. Guru Ram Dass and Guru Arjun used to sit here and supervise construction of the holy tank. Guru Arjun Dev said that places graced by sants become equivalent to combined piligramage of 68 holy places hence the name Athsath Tirath or 68 in one holy place. Guru Arjun was executed by Mughal king Jahangir for helping his rebellious son Khusrav with money.

There is a raised platform which represents the sacred place. Devotees place roses and offer prayers here as you see.

A view of the Hari Mandir through the arch. The foundation of the Mandir was laid in January 1589, completed in 1604 and Guru Granth Sahib was installed in Aug-Sept 1604. Baba Budha was appointed as the first Granthi or reader of the Granth Sahib.

We start the temple virtual tour clockwise from entrance. View from south eastern corner at 7.15am. Centre is sanctum. Left is Akal Takht Sahib. Right is clock tower northern entrance. White strip that you see in front appears to be a railing beyond which devotees cannot cross.

A closer view. Left to right is Akal Takht, causeway connecting to the sanctum. At start of causeway is a fine arch called Darshini Darwaza. Left hand side tree that you see is Lachi Ber.

A close up view of the sanctum and clock tower. Pic taken at 5pm - u can see the evening sun rays on the western side of the temple. A number of devotees enter from this north side tower because it is closest to the main market road. There is a room where you can leave your bags in safe custody. Just there devotees serve tea, breakfast to all.

This is a board on south eastern side, a story of immense bravery which is why devotees pay their respects to Baba Deep Singh. Briefly he was head of 1 of the 12 Misls or Association of Warriors. He was told that Muslims had disgraced the Hari Mandir. At the age of 76 he set out to fight.

In the battle his head was cut off. He supported his chopped head with his left hand (shown in pic) and killed enemies with the right. Thus fighting he reached the Hari Mandir. His vow fulfilled he left for his eternal abode. This Gurudwara is a tribute to him.

Walk ahead is the south side tower. Climb steps and walk down into a well maintained garden. On your left is a prachin (ancient) Shiv Mandir. Can someone please help with details of history of temple.

This is the clock tower entrance on southern side. The Shiv mandir referred to in earlier pic is say 30 seconds away. Time and again the temple was destroyed and desecrated by the Mughal rulers but every time the Sikhs regained control.

A view of the Hari Mandir from the southern side. Saw a number of newly weds in the temple complex as you see on right of pic. The Mughal Governor of Lahore drove the Sikhs out of the temple in the 18th century. Mughal Commander Massa Ranghar used the holy sanctum as a dancing hall. 2 valiants from Bikaner Mehtab and Sukha Singh killed Massa but could not regain temple control.

A close up of the Hari Mandir. Pic taken around 5pm. It was Amavasya (21/4/12) that day so very heavy rush of devotees. The temple was occupied and desecrated in 1757, the year in which the famous Battle of Plassey took place.

Evening sun rays on the Hari Mandir. Background are watch towers. To its right is the Langar or community kitchen. To left of tree is Dukh Bhanji Sahib where devotees are having a dip. To right of tree platform is Tharha Sahib. After the departure of Abdali from India in 1767 the Sikhs re-occupied the Golden Temple.

Devotees sit, meditate on the promenade that runs round the holy tank.

When you return from the sanctum there is Lachi Ber Sahib. Guru Arjun sat under this Beri (Jujube tree) and supervised the excavation of the Holy Tank. For bearing small sized berries this tree is called Lachi Ber. Since 1767 the temple is under Sikh control.

In centre is Lachi Ber tree. When devotees walk out the sanctum they are blessed with prasad ie distributed at a point below the tree. Left is Akal Takht, right is Darshini Darwaza and pathway to sanctum.

Pathway to sanctum, behind is temple entrance on eastern side. Evening sun rays on the temple, note reflection in holy tank.

Entrance to pathway that takes you to Hari Mandir.

Ceiling that also appears gold plated.

A close up of the pathway. It has smaller domes as you can see. Left you see a man in a boat. Background is south side entrance and rooms that surround the temple complex.

A view of the causeway start to end, centre is Hari Mandir and right is south clock tower. Pic taken around 8am. This view is from north western side of temple. The causeway is 202 feet in length.

There are small fish like the ones you see in the Holy Tank. A friend says that fish which are white and orange in color are supposed to be very auspicious.

Left of pic are two watch towers, then community kitchen, east side entrance and Hari Mandir. Pic around 7.30am, missed taking one in broad daylight.

Devotee warriors sitting on the steps and praying.

At every corner of the temple complex water is served by devotees. The steel cup in which water is served are cleaned by other devotees as you can see in this pic. I wish and hope that similar spirit of sewa or service in devotees is found in all temples of India.

On North western side is Bera Baba Budha Sahib. Baba Budhaji camped under this Ber tree to excavate the holy tank and construct the Hari Mandir. He was appointed as the first Granthi ie the reader of the Granth Sahib.

This is Ber tree under which Baba Budhaji sat. Background is north side clocktower. Please always observe the background to get an understanding of the structure that surrounds the Golden Temple.

A view of the Hari Mandir and north side clock tower at 8am - pic taken from north western side.

Clocktower north side. You have to dip your feet in water at every entrance, cover your head before you enter temple. On first floor is Central Sikh Museum, impressive with numerous pics of various warriors. Bhindrawale is described as a outstanding general of the 20th century and a martyr.

A view of the temple complex in the morning. Maharaja Ranjit Singh beautified the temple with gold work, gilding the upper half with golden sheets and the lower half with Indian marble, mosaics and semi- precious stones.

A close up view of the Hari Mandir. The floor of the upper storey is 40 feet each way. There is a small Shish Mahal on the upper storey. It was originally the pavilion where the Gurus used to sit. On the top is the low fluted ‘Gumbaz’(dome) having lotus petal motif in relief at the base inverted lotus at the top which supports the ‘Kalash’ having a beautiful ‘Chhatri’ at the end.

Sewadars like these two are found all over the temple. Had to request them for a laughing pic.

View of the temple complex from the north eastern side. Centre is Golden Temple, left is south side clock tower, right is Akal Takht.

In the backdrop of the rising sun close up view of the Hari Mandir and Akal Takht.

A close up of the Hari Mandir taken from the north eastern side. You can see rising sun rays falling on the temple.

The watch towers are on the eastern side. Below them is this board. Is self explainatory.

U see two 156 feet high minarets or watch towers to protect the Golden Temple. Locals told me that one gets an excellent view of the town from there. Right is langar as indicated by the flag. Extreme right is Dukh Bhanji Saheb.

Having done a circumabulation of the Hari Mandir we now go to the Akal Takht. This is the place where the Gurus held congregations and dispensed justice.

An early morning view of the Akal Takht. It was built by 6th Guru Har Govind (1606-1644) and has been the nerve centre of Sikh Dharam ever since. The young Guru armed and drilled some of his sturdy disciples. He sat in the Akal Takht in princely attire, administered justice like a king in court and narrated stories of deathless bravery while professional bards sang ballads of unrivalled heroism esp of the Rajputs. The Guru was kept in jail in Gwaliort Fort for 12 years by Jahangir for non payment of fine imposed on Guru Arjun.

Devotees doing Kirtan. Two of them have damrooz in their hands. Damrooz are part of Shivji image.

U climb up the steps and walk into a huge hall. The place where the gold plated structure is where the Gurus sat and dispended justice. On your left is Kotha Sahib which shall show later. Devotees came here and bowed their head in respect.

A number of weapons used by Guru Har Govind, Guru Govind Singh amongst other Gurus are preserved at Akal Takht. U see them being removed for display. A senior is handing over rings of various sizes. These are called Chakkra Quoit and made of steel. When thrown at a enemy''''s head can chop off it off.

Swords being removed and kept.

All weapons are now displayed. The 5 Ks have significance. Kesh - long hair was to protect the face from mild cuts, lathi hits. The Kada was a reminder that the Sikh character is always strong and unbending. The Kacha was more suitable for fighting the Muslims than a dhoti. Other Ks are Kangha - comb and Kripan - sword.

The board shown earlier refers to a historic well. If you look down these marble windows you can see parts of it. The newly constructed Akal Takht now covers the well.

Next to the Akal Takht you can see two saffron colored highmast flags ie Nishan Sahib. They are symbols Miri and Piri (temporarl and spiritual) meaning the priest and warrior together.

A view of the Akal Takht and Nishan Sahib from the north side clock tower.

Flags being changed by a devotee. The greeting Sat Sri Akal meanins True Name, True Creator or True Timeless one.

I saw devotees from all over the country. I heard Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali being spoken inside the temple. I also met a group from Kerala. A Sikh friend of mine asked me why they visit Hari Mandir in such large numbers. I told him that they saw the Temple as one of the many places of pilgrimage, the Gurus as theirs. You see a group of Bengalis outside the north clocktower entrance.

In temple met this Sikh who belongs to warrior community. Dress is called Chola. Pagdi is called Dumala. The pagdi is a protective gear during war. So also the beard protects you from face cuts. The round ring that you see in his turban is called Chakkar Quoit. It is an ancient Indian weapon, a steel throwing ring with a razor sharp knife edge. He carried many in his turban all of different sizes. If he flung the ring at me it could chop my head of. He said from the times of Guru Govind Singhji wore the pagdi like that. Inside the chola were white pants knee length.

Sitting position. In his hand is Sri Sahib. It is hidden in the pagdi. He said in case someone attacked from behind the Sri Sahib is used to attack that persons eyes. Left of pic u see brown stick next to his arm is a sword - reminded me of Rehman in the movie Waqt. Thick bangle in hand right of pic is called Jangi kara - war bracelet. To know more about Sikh weapons Click here

Every night the Guru Granth Sahib is taken from the Hari Mandir and kept in the Akal Takht. In the morning it is taken back. Time at which this happens varies with season. In April the time for taking the Granth Sahib was about 11pm. A palanquin is used to carry the Granth Sahib to and fro which you see.

New white sheets being put in the palanquin, it is decorated with flowers. The ten Gurus were Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjun, Guru Har Govind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Harkishen, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Govind Singhji. The 9th Guru Tegh Bahadur was put in chains and beheaded in 1675 by Aurangzeb. The last Guru was severely stabbed by 2 Pathan boys in 1708. He gave up his body soon thereafter.

A devotee blowing the juggle as other devotees bring the palanquin from the Hari Mandir to the Akal Takth. Very crowded could hardly stand so pictures not very good.

A devotee carrying the Guru Granth Sahib to the Akal Takht. The word Sikh comes from the Sanskrit word Sishya meaning a learner or a person who takes spiritual lessons from a teacher. The Sikh congregations were called Sangat. The place where the Sikhs gathered to listen to the Guru''''s sermons and sing hymns in praise of God are called Gurdwaras.

As you enter the hall in the Akal Takht this room is on the left. It is called the Kotha Sahib. It is the room where Guru Arjun used to retreat for the night. After the compilation of the Granth Sahib the bed became the seat for the Granth Sahib and Guru Arjun started sleeping on the ground.

The Guru Granth Sahib inside the Kotha Sahib. Written in verse in Gurumukhi script it has 974 hyms of Guru Nank, 62 of Guru Angad, 907 of Guru Amar Das, 672 of Guru Ram Das, 2218 and 116 Shabads of Guru Arjun including the famous Sukjmani, saying of 16 Bhaktas both Hindu and Muslim such as Farid, Kabir, Namdev, Dhanna, Surdas. 115 hyms of Guru Tegh Bahadur and one verse of Guru Gobind Singhji were added later. The holy book was compiled by Guru Arjun in 1604.

By the time the entire ceremony got over it was close to 12. Devotees went to sleep in the corridors of Hari Mandir while I headed to the hotel that fortunately was only a few minutes away.

The morning ceremony for taking the Granth Sahib back started at about 3.45am. I was there in time, fortunately less crowd. Palanquin in front. Steps go up to the Akal Takht.

Devotees decorate the palanquin with flowers. Top of the palanquin they fix a Mukat (see top centre of palanquin) since the devout believe the Granth Sahib to be their Guru and King. The sixth Guru Har Govind started wearing such mukuts.

Blessed are those devotees who carry the palanquin. Khushwant Singh wrote that while the Adi-first Granth is essentially a distillation of Vedanta in Punjabi, the last Dasam-tenth is a compilation of tales of valor of Hindu goddesses.

The palanquin being carried in the causeway that leads to Hari Mandir. Was about 4.15am then. Photo descriptions taken from the SGPC booklet on the Golden Temple, boards and The History and Culture of Indian People published by the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan. In case of any errors they are unintended and am willing to stand corrected.

Early morning (about 7.15am) sun rays on the eastern side of the Hari Mandir. After seeing the palanquin procession at night and early morning and experiencing the early morning peace at Hari Mandir felt really happy and content. I thanked Ishwar for making one more dream come true.

U see me in front of Hari Mandir - 8am. Men have to cover their head - you can buy such a head cover for Rs 10/. U get used ones at the temple entrance also.

Part two of the Golden Temple collection is called ''''''''Moods of Golden Temple''''''''. We present the temple at various time of the day ie early morning, sunrise, evening, sunset and night like that you see. It is a view of the Hari Mandir with one watch tower in background. Pic taken late evening.

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