Sri Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar, Punjab
Ministry of Environment of Forests, Government of India
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The word `Sikh' itself is derived from the Sanskrit word `sishya' (of which the vernacular form is sikhya) meaning disciple/¬devoted follower. The same principle of universal participation is extended to planning and execution of the complex. In the center of the amrit-sass (pool of nectar) is the Harimandir (sanctum sanctorum), which is connected by the causeway to the `swarg dwarn' (Darshini Deori). Its location in the center of the pool symbolizes the synthesis of nirgun and sargun the spiritual and temporal realms of human existence. The exterior elevation of the shrine is a three storied composition over which are the low fluted dome in a gilt metal. The lowermost floor is submerged in the sarovar. One large hall forms the interior of the edifice, the ceiling of which are elaborately embellished. The internal spaces of Harimandir Sahib are named as "Sachkhand" The 'Prakash Asfhan' is the space, which houses the Guru Granth Sahib. The entire building including the external facade is richly decorated with floral design either inlayed in marble, painted in tempera or embossed in metal.
The shrine is open from ail four sides and has a passage all around it. Towards the eastern side are the flights of steps, known as `har- ki pauri' descending into the sarovar structure appended to the main shrine. The staircase adjoining the `har-ki-pauri' leads to the first floor of the shrine. There is a small square pavilion surrounded by a low fluted golden dome in this storey.
The interior of the pavilion is set with pieces of mirrors of different sizes and colors and hence is known as Shish Mahal.
On the same axis of the temple and the causeway is the Akal Takht Sahib, the highest seat of authority in the religious hierarchy of the Sikhs, which stands facing the principle entrance. This is a five storied structure. Within the edifice is the chamber in which the Adi Granth -the holy book is placed- during night. It also houses the weapons belonging to Sikh Gurus and renowned warriors. The edifice though lies on the principle axis of the Harimandir, but is skewed and is oriented towards the east. On the northern side of the Akal Takht Sahib is the Shaheed Baba Gurbaksh Singh Ashton, Thara Sahib associated with Guru Tegh Bahadur and the two Nishan Sahib. In front of the edifice are two Nishan Sahibs (these are two poles with a flag, connected to each other) symbolizing Mid- Piri, the temporal and the spiritual powers. In front of this is the open multi activity space, also known as Gunnatha space, used for congregation activities.
1. Parikarma (circumarnbulatory path)
There is a Parikarma all around the amrit- saras. The Parikarma has a raised platform towards the sarovar and a colonnaded space and series of rooms onto the other side. There are four shrines, which define the inner periphery of the Parikarma and stand as a symbolic sign within the core-precinct. Pilgrims, while taking a Parikarma pause by these points and pay respect. They are (starting from Darshani Dow! and moving in clockwise direction) Lachi ber, Baba Budha ji ber and Dukh Bhenjini ber and the holy shrine of Baba Deep Singh.
There are three pons- enclosures made as bathing space for women.
Along the same principle axis of the Harimandir-Akal Takht Sahib is Dukh Bhanjini ber, which is towards the Har ki pauri Dukh bhanjini beri also has a small platform adjacent to it, with a small shrine on the platform, which signifies Ath Safh Teerth (68 holy places). Rooms opposite to all these holy shrines house the granthis. The other rooms served the Harimandir Sahib in some way or the other. One of the rooms contains the SGPC office. The rooms' abutting the Gurmathe space is kerha prasad room (where the Prasad or the sacred sweet is prepared and served). Ghhabils drinking water facility is provided in all the four corners of the outer Parikarma.
2. Deories (Gateways)
There are five Deories (gateways) in the Parikarma, which lead into the core-precinct. Deories (gateways) are all at a higher level than the core-precinct. To the interior side of these entrances have a descending flight of steps up to the level of the Parikarma. All these Deories have rooms within. The names of the Deories are; The Ghanta Ghar Deori, the Langar Deori, the Manji Sahib Deori, Atta Mandi Deoril Sikh Reference Library Deori and the Khazana Deori. Outside all these Deories are the Joda ghar (shoe house), where one leaves the footwear and then walk to `Chhabachha' wash their feet.
The word 'bunga' is derived from a Persian word, which means an abode, a rest house or a place of dwelling.
During the Misl period- in the 18r" century, after the Sikhs had succeeded in establishing their military strength as the Dal Khalsa and emerged as a political power they consolidated their position in the Punjab with Amritsar as node. While undertaking the reconstruction of the temple (desecrated for the third time in 1762 by Ahmed Shah Abdali) the prominent Sikh chieftains built Bungas around the Parikarma of the Amrit saran. Though initially the idea was to provide a ready line of defense, but eventually it also served as a valuable institute of learning. Originally there were 74 bungers built between 1765 and 1833 around the Parikarma of the Harimandir Sahib. Adi Granth -the holy book- is placed there during night. It also houses the weapons belonging to Sikh Gurus and renowned warriors. The edifice though lies on the principle axis of the Harimandir, but is skewed and is oriented towards the east. On the northern side of the Akal Takht Sahib is the Shaheed Baba Gurbaksh Singh Ashtan, Thara Sahib associated with Guru Tegh Bahadur and the two Nishan Sahib. In front of the edifice are two Nishan Sahibs (these are two poles with a flag, connected to each other) symbolizing Mid- Pirl, the temporal and the spiritual powers. In front of this is the open multi activity space, also known as Gurmatha space, used for congregation activities.
The Vangat' or the community kitchen is a very important institution for the Sikhs. The concepts of `langat' and 'sewn' demonstrate practically the philosophy of life as in 'truth is all important but alcove all is truth full living'. The philosophy stresses that spiritual empowerment and salvation is for all irrespective of caste and creed if one can live ones life on the principles.
The Langar building in the complex is a three storied structure with exposed brick work. The ground and the first being used for the Langar and the third floor being used by the sewadars.
This is an Octagonal shaped nine storied building, erected in the memory of Atal Rai, the younger son of Guru Hargobind, the seventh Sikh Guru. Baba Atal Gurudwara is 150 feet high and is the tallest building in the city of Amritsar. Nine stories represent the age (nine years) of Baba Atal. All the stories are not of the same height. First six stories are higher than the remaining three. The four doors of the ground floor are decorated with elegantly embossed designs on Brass and silver sheets. The interior walls and ceiling of the ground floor are covered with a number of murals and contains fresco in series. Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the Mata Kaulsar. The water tank situated towards the south west of the Golden Temple is known as Kaulsar (Lotus Tank) and the shrine as Gurudwara Asthan Mai Kaulan.
5. Gurudwara Manji Sahib
Gurudwara Manji Sahib is situated in the Guru Ka Bagh turned now into a very spacious lecture hall.
6. Gurudwara Baba Atal.
This is an Octogonal shaped nine storeyed building, and was erected in the memory of Atal Rai, the younger son of Guru Hargobind, the seventh Sikh Guru. Baba Atal Gurudwara is 150 feet high and is the tallest building in the city of Amristar. Nine storeys represent the age (nine years) of Baba Atal. All the storeys are not of the same height.
First six storeys are higher than the remaining three. The four doors of the ground floor are decorated with elegantly embossed designs on Brss and silver sheets. The interior walls and ceiling of the ground floor are covered with a number of murals and contains fresco in series. Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the ground floor of the building.
7. Mata Kaulsar
The water tank situated towards the south west of the Golden Temple is known as Kaulsar (Lotus Tank) and the shrine as Gurudwana Asthan Mai Kaulan.