The Golden Temple is situated in Amritsar, located in Northern Punjab, India. It is the central Gurdwara, or worship place, for all Sikhs in the world. Its proper name is Harmandir Sahib, which means \"Temple of God\". It is known as the Golden Temple because of its unique features. The Gurdwara is constructed of white marble overlaid with gold leaf and stands in the center of a sarovar, or pool of fresh, clear, reflective water which is fed by the Ganges River. Visitors gather inside the Gurdwara to worship, listen to hymns, and hear the holy scripture of the Guru Granth Sahib read. The Golden Gurdwara has four entrances, one on each side, which are a symbolic welcome to all persons regardless of caste, class, color, or creed. A bridge extends from the gurdwara to the Akal Takhat, the governing body of religious authority for Sikhs. The Guru Granth is kept in the Akal Takhat after hours.
Langar is a free sanctified meal which is prepared daily and served at the temple. It is available to the tens of thousands pilgrims who visit daily. All cooking of food and maintenance of the golden temple complex is carried out by worshipers, who volunteer their services. All cost is provided for by donations.
History of Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)
1574 - Akbar, a Mughal emperor gifts the site to Bibi Bhani, a daughter of the third Guru Amar Das, as a wedding gift when she marries Jetha who later becomes Fourth Guru Raam Das.
1577 - Guru Ram Das begins excavation of a fresh water tank, and construction of the temple site.
1588 - Guru Arjun Dev, the son of Guru Ram Das and the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, over-sees the laying of the temple's foundation.
1604 - Guru Arjun Dev completes the temple's construction. He compiles the sacred scripture Adi Granth over a five year period, completing it August 30th, and installing the Granth in the temple on September 1st. He appoints a Sikh named Baba Buddha to be caretaker of the Granth.
1663 - Guru Har Govind lays the foundation of Akal Takhat, throne of spiritual authority, with the assistance of Bhai Gurdas and Baba Buddha. Together they build a platform 12 feet in height in defiance of a decree made by Mughal Emperor Jahangir that no one but his own royal personage be allowed to sit on a dais over three feet in height.
1699 - 1737 - Bhai Mani Singh is appointed curator of Harmandir Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh.
1757 - 1762 - Jahan Khan, an Afghani general of the invader Ahmad Shah Abdali, attacks the temple. It is defended by illustrious martyr Baba Deep Singh. The damages sustained result in major renovations.
1830 - Maharajah Ranjit Singh sponsors marble inlay, gold plating, and gilding of the temple.