*Click on image for full-sized view.
The Harmandir Sahib, referred to as the “Golden Temple” in English, is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. Located in the city of Amritsar (state of Punjab), India, it is also sometimes called the Darbar Sahib. Built in 1574 by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, it almost always holds the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism completed by Arjan Dev in 1604.
Harmandir Sahib is a temple, but specifically it is a Gurdwara, which translates to “gateway to the guru.” It is located on a lake called a sarovar that was artificially enlarged centuries ago. The Afghans attacked the area in the mid-1700’s, and the temple was rebuilt by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia in 1764. Almost a century later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh plated most of the upper floors of the Harmandir Sahib with pure gold, giving it its English nickname as the Golden Temple. There is one main door on each side, facing north, west, south, and east, representing the Sikh’s culture of being open to all peoples.