Sri Harmindar Sahib

The Harmindar Sahib ( Har or Hari meaning God and Mandir meaning house of) is a sight of true enchanting
beauty. The glistening Harmindar stands in the midst of a square tank of holy water or amrit.

Each side is about 150 meters long, with avery wide parkarma or circumambu - lation all the way round. There are four doorways into the complex letting the whole world know that this is a place open to all from the four corners of the world.A 60 meter causeway connects the parkarma to the Harmindar Sahib itself. The causeway was a row of guilded lamps and a perforated marble railing on either side.

Before stepping onto the causeway one passes under a fine arch called Darshani Deori from where one can have a full view of the Harmindar Sahib. The door frame of the arch is 3 meters high, the Harmindar Sahib itself is 12 meters square and rests on a 20 meter square platform. The building is two storied and on top is a guilded dome surrounded by golden turrets. Guru Granth Sahib Ji the holy scriptures of the Sikhs is housed on the ground floor under a beautiful bejeweled canopy. Many of the doors, domes and walls are covered in gold from the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, hence the Harmindar Sahib is also known as the Golden Temple. Among Sikhs it is popularly known as Darbar Sahib (the divine court).Costly marble has been used for the construction of the parkarma and causeway.

The foundation stone was laid in 1589 by a Muslim saint called Hazrat Mian Mir Ji on the invitation of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and its construction was completed in 1601 and the Aadh Guru Granth Sahib Ji was installed in 1604.

In the Golden Temple singing of Gurbani (Gurus hymns) with musical instruments continues uninterrupted from early hours in the morning until late as continuous devotees stream in through the four outer doors.

Attached to the complex is a Sikh museum and the Guru Ram Das langar hall (free kitchen). Facing the Harmindar Sahib the seat of Sikh spiritual authority is the Akal Takhat, the Throne of the Eternal, the seat of Sikh temporal authority.

Drawing from 1900's  










It is written that the Pandovs (five brothers) from the epic tale Mahabharat visited the site where Harmandar Sahib now stands. In the thick jungle they were dying of thirst and could walk no more. One by one each brother was sent to find water but none returned. The only one left standing wasYudhisthira the wisest of them all. When he went in search of his brothers he found them all laying unconscious in a clearing next to a pool of clear water. When he approached a voice called out. It said that each of his brothers had failed to solve a riddle but had drank from the pool anyway, hence their fate. Yudhisthira being the wise one gave a satisfactory answer to the riddle. The voice was so impressed it said that not only could he drink from the pool but he could also revive one of his brothers. This was a predicament for Yudhisthira , who to revive ? Although they had the same father, three were born of one mother and two of another, but who should he revive. He tapped one on the shoulder who began to come round. The voice asked how he had made his choice. Yudhisthira said " If after our travels we manage to get home and I have revived one of my true brothers then one mother will have joy in her heart that two of her sons have returned but the other will fall into despair as she will have none to hug. I have chosen so that both mothers will have one son to comfort them." The voice was impressed by this wisdom that it revived the other three also.

It is written in old text that The Buddha stayed for some time at the site where Harmindar Sahib now stands, and proclaimed that to attain Nirvana this land was the most spiritually charged. But due to the decline of Buddhism in India the Buddhist influence from this area also waned and it became non - populated again and reverted to a jungle.

Rajni was a daughter of a very proud and egotistical King, she was good of heart and always cheerful. Once having displeased her father he ordered that she be married off to a leper. This dully happened and she was cast into the wilderness with her helpless husband. They had heard of a miraculous place where black crows bathe in a pool of water and emerge as white doves. After many years searching they came to a clearing in the jungle and saw the sight of black birds turning to white doves. The husband rolled down the slope into the water and was cured of his illness. This place was at the site where the Harmindar Sahib now stands.
  Akali Tower  

Guru Nanak Dev Ji arrived here for the first time in 1502 with Bhai Mardana and declared it a very pious and sacred place. On hearing this a local landlord Bhai Tara went home and and brought some sweet pudding - Parsad. Guru Ji's close companion Bhai Mardana ate some and said this was like holy or Amrit food. Guru Ji blessed the site and said that holy food will always be served here.

Guru Ji visited it again in 1532 in the company of Bhai Lenhna Ji and Baba Buddha Ji. The tank of water was made larger by the fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das Ji who bought the land from emperor Akbar for 700 gold coins and named the place Amritsar.

When the Harmindar Sahib was completed in 1601, Guru Arjan Dev Ji the fifth Guru had already started the compilation of the Aadh Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh holy scriptures. After including the hymns of the previous four Gurus and those himself and Muslim and Hindu saints and bards the Granth Sahib was completed in 1604 (see separate page on Guru Granth Sahib Ji). Guru Granth Sahib Ji was brought with great reverance and installed in the Harmindar Sahib.

To enhance the beauty of the Harmindar Sahib, Maharaja Rajit Singh arranged for gold leaf to be added to the top half and decorated enameled marble to the bottom half of the building. in all the Maharaja took 27 years to complete this and added 162 seer (1 seer = approx 1 Kg) of pure gold valued at 66 Lakh Rupees.

Drawing from 1800's  







Two important Sikh principles are put into practice here in abundance. Sewa (selfless service) by many devotees who will wash and clean the parkarma as well as run the Langar or free kitchen where upto 25
thousand pilgrims from all walks of life come and eat together each day. Simran (meditation), as Gurbani (Gurus hymns) are sung uninterrupted all day every day.

There are many places of historical value within the complex of the Harmindar Sahib. Opposite the Harmindar Sahib is the Akal Takhat a most respected building as it has a historical connection with the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. For Guru Ji used to sit on a plat - form and hold court and issue edicts or hukamnamas from here. If Harmindar is the place of worship then the Akal Takhat is the place of strength. In 1984 this was the building that was one of the main target of the tanks that had rolled into the complex, and attempts were wand to completely destroy the throne of the Almighty.

Marbled parkarma around the sacred pool Sri Akal Takhat Sahib

Very close to the Akal Takhat is a place called Thara Sahib (a platform made of bricks). This is where the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji rested when arriving from Baba Bakala to pay his respects to Darbar Sahib soon after he was announced as the next Guru. The custodians of the Harmindar Sahib closed the doors on the Guru to safeguard their vested interests.

In the precinct there is Ber Baba Buddha. This is a tree (beri) that Baba Buddha Ji used to sit under whilst supervising the construction of the Darbar Sahib. A little further from this is the Dukh Bhanjani Beri, the story of which we shall recount below. A little further there is a high platform called At Sath Tirath, where the Gurus and great saints used to deliver their holy discourses in the praise of the Almighty.

On the next part of the parkarma is the famous place of Baba Deep Singh Ji.This is the final resting place of the severed head of Baba Deep Singh Ji. In 1757 Prince Taimurs afghan forces met a band of a few thousand Sikhs led by Baba Deep Singh. The destruction of the Harmindar Sahib be Ahmad Shah Abdali forces caused a lot of heartburning amongst the Sikhs and this clash was inevitable. The opposing forces met ten miles outside Amritsar at a village called Goharwal. The Sikh peasantry were less trained and heavily out- numbered by the imperial forces, the battle was bloody and fierce. Baba Deep Singh Ji was well into his old age by this time but such was his strength and conviction that he had vowed that if he was to die in battle he would find his final resting place in the precincts of the Harmindar Sahib. As the battle waged Baba Ji was struck by a sword which completely severed his head. Such was the shakti (spiritual power) of Baba Ji that he picked up his head and carried on fighting, eventually nearing the Harmindar Sahib Baba Ji threw this head into the parkarma and breathed his last. Baba Deep Singh Ji is one of the most revered heroes in Sikh history.
A little after Baba Deep Singh Ji is the Parvesh Devaar, one of the main entrance gates. On the top floor is the Sikh Reference Library. There are preserved over 100 hand written copies of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and over 800 hand written hukamnamas and manuscripts relating to Sikh history.

On the next turn of the parkarma is the Ilaichi Beri (a tree with very small fruit called Ber). At this place Guru Arjan Dev Ji used to sit and supervise the construction of the Harmindar Sahib. This is the same place that Sikh heros Bhai Sukha Singh and Bhai Mehtaab Singh tied their horses before dealing with Massa Ranghar. Massa was a governor of the Mughal empire and he had been instructed to squeeze the life out of the Sikhs. He decided that the best way to deal with these troublesome folk was to attack their holy of holies. He setup camp and started to desecrate the site by pouring all manner of filth into the holy waters, including severed heads of cows. He sat in the Harmindar Sahib drinking alcohol, eating meat and watching dancing girls dance. It came down to two Sikhs from the jungles of Bika Nair who rode with fire in their hearts to stop this. In the year 1797, after a three day journey they reached Amritsar. Disguised as farmers coming to pay their taxes they filled sacks of pebbles and bluffed there way into the Harminder Sahib past the scores of imperial guards. They tied their horses at Ilaichi Beri and walked to the Darbar Sahib. They threw the sacks in front of Massa Ranghar who could not contain himself and lent forward to pick up the money. With one clean swipe his body was relieved of its head, they picked up the head and fought there way out of the complex and were gone. The sheet audacity of this act left the imperial forces stunned.

There is a wonderful Sikh museum situated on top of Darshani Deori which houses very valuable articles of historical importance for the Sikhs.

Sri Akal Takhat Sahib 1858.   Darbar Sahib 1858
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