Amritsar – The Golden Temple

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The Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib (“abode of God”), is a Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab. It is the holiest Gurdwara and the most important pilgrimage site of the Sikh religion. The temple is built around an immense man-made pool (sarovar) that was completed in 1577. The temple was repeatedly rebuilt by the Sikhs after it became a target during Sikh persecution and was destroyed several times during invasions and occupations by the Muslim armies from Afghanistan and the Mughal Empire. Maharaja (king) Ranjit Singh rebuilt the place of worship in marble and copper in 1809, and overlaid the sanctum with gold foil in 1830.  The Golden Temple is an open house of worship for all men and women, from all walks of life and faith. It has a square plan with four entrances facing each direction symbolising openness to all. The temple, like all Gurdwaras, includes a langar hall– a free community run kitchen that serves a simple vegetarian meal to all visitors without discrimination. As many as 50,000 people eat there every day and on religious holidays the numbers swell to 100,000. Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship and the temple complex has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.