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Travel Guide to The Golden Temple and Amritsar

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Amritsar derives its name from the holy lake that houses the Golden Temple. It is the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikhs with thousands of them coming everyday to pay their respect at the temple. Visitors come here to see the beauty of the grand structure that is built right in the middle of a lake. The city also has other tourist spots like the Jallianwala Bagh where the British Indian Army opened fire at unarmed people, Mata Temple which is a shrine to the female saint Lal Devi, the Summer Place of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and more.

The temple is vast and epitomises the entire history, culture and religion of the Sikhs. The Gurudwara is also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib. The uppper floors of the Gurudwara are constructed using 400kg of gold thus giving it its name 'The Golden Temple'. It houses the holy book ' Guru Granth Sahib' while the building opposite to it has a museum which tells the story of the Sikhs.

Harmandir Sahib

Harmandir Sahib

Also called the Golden Temple because of the gold its upper floors are constructed by, the Harmandir Sahib floats atop the Amrit Sarovar lake. The temple houses the sacred text, Adi Granth, which is recited here everyday in the morning. It is accessible by a bridge from the edge of the pool and is guarded by traditionally dressed Sikh Guards.

Pic Credit:Wikki Commons

Amrit Sarovar

Amrit Sarovar

Amrit Sarovar is a man-made lake which houses the Golden Temple. Constucted under the supervison of Guru Ram Das who was the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, this holy tank is said to be filled with 'holy water' or 'immortal nectar' and thus the name Amrit Sarovar.

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Akal Takht

Akal Takht

Directly opposite to the Gurudwara is the Akal Takht which when translated means ' The Timeless'. The Sikhs highest council sits here and all decisions regarding the temple are made here. The Guru Granth Sahib is kept here at night.

Pic Credit:Giridhar Appaji Nag Y

Central Sikh Museum

Central Sikh Museum

The vast gallery is filled with paintings, most of which portray the gruesome ways countless Sikhs were martyred and various illustrations of the Gurus. Entry here is free and one can learn more about the Sikhs and the temple through these paintings.

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Ghanta Ghar

Ghanta Ghar

The main entrance to the gurdwara sports a Victorian clock-tower. Devotees are to wash their feet in the small pool of water at the entrance in order to keep the temple area clean.

Pic Credit:Giridhar Appaji Nag Y

Langar

Langar

The Gurudwara has a dining hall called langar which serves free meals to all. It is a must visit place for visitors. At the entrance to the langar one is handed plates and spoons following which one seats oneself on the floor. Volunteers come with large buckets laden with dal, chapatis and rice. People from all religions are free to take part in the activities of the langar. Do note, slippers are not allowed here.

Pic Credit:Connie Ma

Baisakhi

Baisakhi

The Sikhs ring in the new year with the Baisakhi celebration. It is celebrated with a lot of pomp and energy. The temple is lit up and one can feel the celebratory vibes in the air.

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Rules

Rules

Visitors are requested to maintain the purity of the holy place. There are a few rules that are laid down which one is expected to follow. On entering the premises, shoes have to be removed and feet have to be washed in a small pool of water. Men and women are expected to wear a head scarf while they are inside. Drinking, smoking or consumption of meat is prohibited within the temple. Photography is allowed from the outer periphery of the holy lake but not within the actual temple premises.

Pic Credit:Wikki Commons

Other Places of Interest

Other Places of Interest

After paying homage and taking in the beauty of the Golden Temple one can visit few more places in Amritsar. The Jallianwalla Bagh is today a memorial for the people who lost their lives in a massacre by the British army. One can still see the bullet marks on the walls and also the well into which people jumped and drowned.

Pic Credit:Stefan Krasowski

Mata Temple and Ram Tirth

Mata Temple and Ram Tirth

Then there is the Mata Temple which is a Hindu cave temple. It is believed that women wishing to become pregnant should come pray here. There is also the Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which is now used to house oil paintings, coins, weapons and other Sikh Royalty antiques. Finally one can also visit Ram Tirth which is outside the main city. It is believed that the sons of Lord Ram were born here. The hut of sage Valmiki is still to be seen here.

Pic Credit:Arian Zwegers

Shopping and Eating

Shopping and Eating

One can purchase Sikh items like khandas, kara, swords and daggers from shops outside the temple. Also available here are pictures of Guru Nanak and CD's of temple recordings and chants. The city market has lots to offer to its visitors ranging from the traditional phulkari embroidery to punjabi juttis (local shoes). Since you are in Punjab, don't forget to try out Lassi (yoghurt drink). Head to the Lassi Wala Chowk nearby.

Pic Credit:itsreallyrobert

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