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History of the Golden Temple

Operation Bluestar Timeline

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Golden Temple.Amritsar.Punjab,India
Raj Kamal/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Sarovar Amritsar Surrounding Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat

Sarovar Amritsar Surrounding Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat

Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]
Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat

Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat

Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Darbar Harmandir Sahib, the Golden Temple of the Sikhs

The Golden Temple is situated in Amritsar, located in Northern Punjab, India, which is close to the border of Pakistan. It is the central gurdwara, or worship place, for all Sikhs in the world. Its proper name is Harmandir, which means "Temple of God" and is respectfully referred to as Darbar (meaning "court") Sahib (meaning"Lord"). Darbar Harmandir Sahib 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 River Ravi, and said by some to originate from the Ganges River. Pilgrims bathe and perform ablution in the sacred waters of the tank which is known for its healing properties. 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.
Langar at the Golden Temple Video

History of Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)

1574 - Akbar, a Mughal emperor gifts the site to Bibi Bhani, a daughter of Third Guru Amar Das, as a wedding gift when she marries Jetha, who later becomes Fourth Guru Raam Das.

1577 - Guru Raam Das begins excavation of a fresh water tank, and construction of the temple site.

1581 - Guru Arjun Dev, the son of Guru Raam Das becomes fifth guru of the Sikhs, and works to complete construction of the sarovar getting the tank and stairways on all sides paved with bricks.

1588 - Guru Arjun Dev 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.

1606 - Akal Takhat:

  • 15th of June (Har Vadi 5 1663 S.V.) Guru Har Govind sets the corner stone of the foundation of Akal Takhat, throne of spiritual authority, with the assistance of Bhai Gurdas and Baba Buddha. Together, the three of them 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.
  • 24th of June (Har Sudi 10th day 1663 S.V.) Inauguration ceremonies commence and first hukham nama decree issued.

1699 to 1737 - Bhai Mani Singh is appointed curator of Harmandir Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh.

1757 to 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.

1835 - Pritam Singh endeavors to supply the sarovar with water from River Ravi at Pathonkot via having a canal system dug.

1923 - Kar Seva project undertaken to clean the sarovar tank of sediment.

1927 to 1935 - Gurmukh Singh undertakes an eight year project to have the sarovar canal system widened.

1973 - Kar Seva project undertaken to clean the sarovar tank of sediment.

1984 - Operation Blue Star (Sikh Genocide): by order of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

  • May 25th (Tuesday): Indian Army troops surround the Golden Temple complex.
  • June 1st (Friday): Several thousand Sikh devotees convene at the Golden Temple to commemorate the June 3rd anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev. A seven hour barrage of shooting occurs during the night, killing 11 and wounding 25.
  • June 3rd (Sunday): Indian Army troupes impose a curfew shooting dead any who violate it. Ten thousand Sikh devotees are trapped within the Golden Temple complex.
  • June 4th (Monday): The Indian Army fires on the Golden Temple with machine guns and mortars. A five hour battle ensues resulting in 100 deaths.
  • June 5th (Tuesday): The Indian Government sends tanks to surround and invade the temple complex. Heavy crossfire results in many casualties.
  • June 6th (Wednesday): Armored vehicles and tanks break through and pummel the Akal Takhat resulting in the massacre of thousands of innocent worshipers and damage to the entire complex, defacing the temple, destroying the Akal Takhat, and desecrating holy scriptures and sacred texts.
  • June 7th (Thursday): Indian army soldiers trample the grounds without removing their boots, swaggering through the temple complex drinking and smoking. The Golden Temple complex is looted and ancient scriptures are burnt. The sarovar is filled with thousands floating corpses. Relatives are refused the rights to claim their dead. The Bodies of dead devotees are collected, stripped of valuables, loaded onto garbage trucks and cremated without ceremonial rites, before an official count can be made.

1993 - Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, a prominent Sikh, heads up the Galliara renovation project of the Akal Takhat and the Golden Temple Harmandir complex.

2000 to 2004 - Kar Seva sarovor cleanup project. Amrik Singh works with Douglas G. Whitetaker and a team of American engineers to set up a water purification plant to serve the sarovars of Amritsar including those of the Golden Temple Gurdwara Harmandir Sahib, Gurdwara Bibeksar, Gurdwara Mata Kaulan and Gurdwara Ramsar and Gurdwara Santokhsar. The water treatment faculty includes a sand filtration system.

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