Harmandir Sahib (Temple of God)
A symbol of the distinct identities and collective heritage of the Sikh community, Harmandir Sahib holds the well-known Golden Temple in the city of Amritsar.
Forever perceived as the Golden Temple alone, Harmandir Sahib is actually a larger holy gurdwara complex, a place of significant spiritual meaning to Sikhs worldwide. For Sikhs, the famous Golden Temple, which so many tourists seek to visit each year, is not the most important aspect of this complex - it is the Amrit Sarovar (Pool of Nectar or Immortality), this is where Amritsar takes its name. The tank of sacred water held here is said to have supreme healing powers and pilgrims come from all over the world to bathe in it.
Not far from this spiritual site, along the riverside, is the iconic Golden Temple. A mesmerising place of worship, the Golden Temple is a blend of both Hindu and Islamic architecture seen across India. In fact, this temple was built to be none too dissimilar to the Taj Mahal with its intricate flower work. However, it is the second level of this building that is most well-known, for its engraved golden panels and glittering dome, gilded with 750kg of gold. It is said that on average, 10,000 people visit this temple daily to worship.
Good to know
There are four doors into the Harmandir Sahib complex and each of them symbolise the openness of the Sikhs towards all others regardless of their creed or religion.
When visiting the Golden Temple’s Inner Sanctum, you will not be allowed to take photos as this is a place of worship. Priests and musicians chant here throughout the day from the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, this creates an intense atmosphere that we urge you to experience when you visit. The holy book is installed in the temple each morning and returned at night to the Akal Takhat (Timeless Throne), the temporal seat of the Khalsa brotherhood. You can watch this ceremony at 5am and 9.40pm in winter and 4am and 10.30pm in summer.
However, we do recommend you take a look around the whole of the complex in-between these times, as opposed to the Golden Temple alone. You will find a number of shrines and monuments inside, as well as the renowned Sikh Museum. After a few hours exploring, if you begin to feel peckish, visit the Guru-Ka-Langar to the southeast of the complex. Hosting up to 80,000 pilgrims a day, they eat in this enormous dining room after praying at the Golden Temple - a humble display of hospitality. Although there is no charge, a donation is always appreciated.
The best time to visit this complex is the second week of April when Sikhs celebrate the founding of the Khalsa during the festival of Vaisakhi.
Dawn - approx. 10pm, information office open from 8am - 7pm