The Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab, also known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, is considered the most sacred place by followers of the Sikh religion. The temple itself is only part of the huge complex, which includes a man-made lake, a very important part of the complex. It is known as Amrit Sarovar, or the Lake of Holy Nectar. Amritsar takes its name from the lake. Devotees come from all over the world to have a dip in the Sarovar.
The temple is surrounded by the lake, and can be reached only by a bridge or causeway. It is believed to have power to cure many diseases, and pilgrims take a dip in it.
Over the centuries, the temple was rebuilt many times, and each time it became grander. Its walls were studded with precious stones, and its dome was covered in pure gold. That’s why it is now popularly known as the Golden Temple.
Each day, thousands and thousands of pilgrims come to the Golden Temple. There is free accommodation available at the complex for all those who want it, and a community kitchen serves free food prepared by volunteers.
The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, is kept inside the Golden Temple. Chapters from the book are read and hymns sung continuously at the temple, adding to the peaceful atmosphere. Each night, the holy book is taken in a palanquin to the Akal Takht, a building near the entrance to the bridge, and every morning, it is carried to the temple in the same way.
The Golden Temple has entrances on all four sides, symbolically meaning that it is open to everyone. Not only Sikhs, but people of other religions visit it too.