THINGS TO REMEMBER BEFORE YOU GO TO Golden Temple, Amritsar.
- There is no time limit at Golden Temple, one can spend much more time as per own convenience, so visit it during day and night time.
- Photography inside main Temple is prohibited.
- Washroom facility is available near to Dharmashala inside the Temple, so no need to worry.
- Do visit Wagaha Border, one should never miss parade at Wagah Border, reach before 4 pm to get entry.
- Do not carry unnecessary stuff in bag while visiting Wagah Border, because security force won’t allow.
- Do not litter the Lake and area around Golden Temple.
ABOUT GOLDEN TEMPLE
Golden Temple, a pride of Punjab situated in the Amritsar city of north-western Indian state. It is also the pride of India. Golden Temple meaning,” abode of God”. It is also known as ‘Harmandir Sahib’ or ‘Darbar Sahib’. A spiritual site of Sikhism located in the heart of Amritsar, around 30 km from the border with Pakistan is ‘Golden Temple’. If you are in North India, then there are least chances of Amritsar being not in your list. You could be religious, you could also be non-religious, but this sacred place from Punjab will definitely connect you to the sole. This place has left lots of curiosity in the traveler’s mind, curiosity of why it is known as Golden Temple? Curiosity of why it is known as sacred place? And why it is surrounded by Lake?
WHAT ARE THE OPTION TO REACH THIS HOLY PLACE ?
Being one of the famous tourist destination, reaching Amritsar has lots of options.
Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International airport located on the distance of 12 km from the city. There are daily flights to and from major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Chandigarh. Being one of the International airport, there is direct connectivity to and from London, Dubai.
Being located on the national highway, Amritsar is well connected by road. There are regular buses including Private and Government runs to and from Ambala, Patiala, Chandigarh and Delhi. Bus fare lies between 500 INR to 1500 INR depending on Bus. For transportation within the city, there are regular rickshaws and bus available.
The Amritsar railway station is the junction to the major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Delhi. In some cases, one can reach Delhi and then further 6 hours train journey to the Amritsar. From Mumbai, there is Golden Temple mail express train that runs straight to the Amritsar. From Amritsar railway station, the distance to Golden Temple is around 2 km.
HISTORY OF GOLDEN TEMPLE OR HARMANDIR SAHIB
In the history of Golden Temple, this Gurudwara is built around man made pool that was completed by Guru Ram Das in 1577. Guru Arjan, the fifth guru of Sikhism, requested Sai Mir Mian Mohammed, a Muslim Pir of Lahore, to lay its foundation stone in 1589. In 1604, Guru Arjan placed a copy of Adi Granth in Harmandir Sahib, calling the site Ath Sath Tirath. The Gurudwara was repeatedly rebuilt by the Sikhs, after it became a target of persecution and was also destroyed several times by Mughal Empire. Later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh after founding the Sikh Empire, rebuilt it with marble and copper in 1809, and covered this place with gold foil in 1830, therefore it became, ”Golden Temple”.
This is one of such place, where several fights has performed against Sikhism. Some of these are, Singh Sabha movement, Punjabi Suba movement, Operation Blue Star and Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Several lives has been lost in this protest. The historical story from that time around this place will give you goose-bumps.
MY JOURNEY TO AMRITSAR FROM MUMBAI
Everything started from Mumbai, Maharashtra, when we all were in hurry to catch up the Golden Temple mail express from Mumbai. The train journey was close to 30 hours from Mumbai. This was my first tour organised by some unknown tour operator, though he was belonging to same city. We hardly knowing each other. Traveling with strangers for the first time and that too in other state, where everything was unknown for me, but this made my dream came true as a fearless traveler. It is said that Sometimes, ‘the journey is better than destination’. After the journey of long 30 hours, our train was about to reach Amritsar. One hour before reaching Amritsar, it was complete fog outside, due to which, train was running very slow. So far I was so excited and I had started scrolling more about this stunning place. Amritsar is the complete package of great history, Structure, its construction and devotees. As I was reaching near to my destination, something was happening inside my body. I was not aware what it was; may be it was an eagerness to see alluring Golden Temple.
It was 7 am in the morning when we reached Amritsar railway station. The temperature here, made my body to shiver, it was winter season. We headed to hotel Nayyar and got fresh. None of us was wanted to waste time in the hotel, rather we all decided to spend more time at Temple. I kept my luggage in the room and headed towards the destination. The distance was not more than 2 km from hotel. Share rickshaw from hotel dropped all of us near to main entrance. After reaching near to the main entrance, we removed our shoes and kept in the shoe rack located left side from the entrance gate. Before entering from the main entrance one has to cover their head with scarf, if anyone with no scarf can purchase head scarves from here in very cheap rate. Everyone need to wash their feet in holy lake opposite to main entrance before entering in to the Temple. After walking further close to the entrance of Gurudwara, the glance of colorful people with faith and different nationality was heart-warming.
The first glimpse of Temple from holy-lake with Golden plate was astonishing. The area surrounding to this lake is bit crowded, queue is not required here. Walking on the white marble with barefoot was chilling up the whole body. One has to walk for 4 to 5 minutes from this crowd to reach the main Temple where holy book is kept, a Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib. The only part where we had to stand in long queue, it took us 2 hours to stand in queue. The queue to reach inside the temple was crowded, may be everyone was eager to see the holy book. The Temple has placed in the middle of holy Lake, so do not litter. This lake has huge number of hungry fishes which are golden and black in colour. This is one of the best attraction for children’s coming here. People also lake dip bath in this holy-lake. When we stepped inside the temple, the structure inside was covered with golden coil, and it was looking so magnificent. We spent an hours seating near to Lake and admiring the beauty of Golden Temple.
GOLDEN HOURS OF GOLDEN TEMPLE
I would recommend you to witness both sunrise and sunset at Golden Temple. Sunrise and sunset here is splendid. As the sun starts to settle down, the shrine of Golden Temple can be seen in the holy-lake. There is no time boundaries here for anyone. One can also put mat on the marble near to Lake and witness the charming Golden Temple throughout the night. At night shades of Golden temple plated with golden coil can be also seen in the Lake.
MOST INTERESTING PART AT GOLDEN TEMPLE
Golden Temple Langar
One of the important feature of Gurudwara is its langar hall. A langar hall is communal free kitchen that offers free vegetarian food to all visitors, and Golden Temple is known for serving largest free community kitchens in the world. This meals are available for 24 hours a day. On average 1 lakh people are served on daily basis. The food here is simple yet delicious.
Volunteering in the Golden Temple’s kitchen is most exciting part here. You can dedicate few hours a day to the pilgrims by washing dishes in kitchen, cooking the meal or serving the food. There are dozens of visitors that stands for volunteering in the kitchen on daily basis.
OTHER PLACES TO EXPLORE NEAR GOLDEN TEMPLE
Langar hall– One should visit the langar hall at Temple and get volunteer in the kitchen.
Jallianwala Bagh– After visiting Golden Temple one can walk about 1 km to reach Jalliangwala Bagh. It is historical garden and ‘memorial of national importance’ and preserved in the memories of those wounded and killed. There are some old trees in the garden and some building in the back. One can still see the bullet marks on the wall. Time to visit here is 7 am to 6 pm.
Akal Takht– It is one of five seat of Sikhs. It is located in the Harmandir Sahib complex. The structure of this Akal Takht is outstanding.
Wagah Border-The distance from Golden Temple is 28 km and share cabs and buses available to reach. The Wagah Border ceremony marks the closing of the border between India and Pakistan each day. The ceremony takes place every evening, where Pakistan and Indian army put on elaborate show. One should never miss the parade at Wagah Border that starts 5:15 pm. The border is open from 10 am to 5 pm.
PLACES TO STAY AROUND GOLDEN TEMPLE
You can stay within Dharmashala inside the Golden Temple, but most often it is bit crowded, you will hardly get any bed. For foreigners they have provided separate dormitory for stay.
There are Sarai available near to Temple which is so economic, one can also book online before reaching.
There are many hotels available on the distance of 2 to 4 km from Golden Temple and cost varies as per Deluxe to economic.
We had stayed at Hotel Nayyar 1.5 km from Golden Temple.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT HERE ?
The best time to visit Amritsar is between November to March, when weather is comparatively pleasant and ideal for sightseeing and visiting Golden Temple. Sometimes the temperature touches freezing point.
Inside the Temple one should witness sunrise and sunset view of Temple.
While visiting Amritsar following food you should never miss;
Langar food at Temple and Dal Makhani, Chole and Paratha in the Punjabi Thali in Amritsar. There are small Dhaba’s on the way selling famous Punjabi Thali. Though the food is veg, but taste is delicious.
Author:- Sambhaji Patil