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The Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib, situated in Amritsar, Punjab, is the most sacred temple for Sikhs. It is a symbol of the magnificence and strength of the Sikh people all over the world. In the evolution of the Darbar Sahib, is entwined the history and ideology of Sikhism. In its architecture are included, symbols associated with other places of worship. This is an example of the spirit of tolerance and acceptance that the Sikh philosophy propounds.
The history of the Darbar Sahib starts with Guru Amar Das, who took the first steps towards building a shrine. Around the Golden Temple, the holy city of Amritsar came into being. His successor, Guru Ram Das, came to live near this tranquil and peaceful site, and started building the pilgrimage center around the small pool, (later to become the Sarowar) which had initially drawn Guru Amar Das.
By the time of Guru Ram Das' death, the pre eminence of the Darbar Sahib among the Sikh devotees was unquestionable.
The Harmandir Sahib, or the sanctum sanctorium, was envisioned by Guru Arjan Dev. This was conceived by him to reflect the resoluteness, clarity and simplicity of the Sikh religion. The Harmandir Sahib today stands as the hallowed symbol of the indestructibility of the Sikh faith. He designed it to have four doors, one on each side. The Golden Temple, would thus be open to all four castes-Kshatriyas, Brahmins, Sudras & Vaisyas.
The gilding, marble, mirror and inlay work on the Harmandir Sahib came much later. It was the nineteenth century during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, that the proud people of Punjab lavished their wealth on their shrine in Amritsar.
The Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, was installed in the Harmandir Sahib in 1604, three years after its completion. The location of the Granth Sahib here, adds to the sanctity & reverence of the Harmandir Sahib. Here lies the heart of Sikhism. This symbol of abiding faith and tolerance is held in high esteem by every Sikh. And this is the place which every Sikh dreams, ever so often, of visiting.