Harmandar Sahib – Golden Temple, Amritsar
A quiet, peaceful oasis in the middle of bustling Amritsar comes in the form of Harmandar Sahib; informally known as the Golden Temple. The holiest, Sikh place of worship within Punjab, and if you only visit one place of worship in India – make it this one.
Enter through one of the four entrances; you’ll need to take your shoes off and swap them for a token at one of the entrances (alternatively if you’ve got a small bag you can pop them in there). You’ll then have to walk through some shallow water like that in a swimming pool and you’ll arrive inside the temple complex – don’t forget to dress appropriately and cover your head.
The gurdwara is the gateway through which the guru can be reached, and is the main golden temple that lies in the middle of a clear body of holy water known as a Saravor, which is fed by the River Ravi. Pilgrims queue up on the bridge over the water to the temple.
The temple is flanked on each side by bright, white buildings containing amongst others a library and a museum, along with a very shiny floor considering how many people walk along it. Hidden away in the complex is a kitchen that feeds all the people that visit, known as Langar. Sit on the floor and eat as equals regardless of religion, background or race.
Take your time and sit back under the arches and watch the world go by attending to their business.
The temple itself is made up of white marble covered in gold leafs on the upper two floors, including the dome and casts a hypnotising reflection on the water.
Handy hint time … make sure you visit several times in the day; the colours and the atmosphere change along with the time of day.
And stop by at night.
What does it all mean? Harmandar Sahib literally means ‘Temple of God’ in Punjabi.
Travel: The Golden Temple is in Amritsar, which can be reached by bus or train from Delhi or nearby cities.