Sri Harmandir Sahib through the centuries


mohan thaerae oochae ma(n)dhar mehal apaaraa
O Mohan, your temple is so lofty, and your mansion is unsurpassed.
-Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 248

In the physical entity of the Harmandir Sahib, Guru Arjan Dev Ji also uncovered its spiritual being. What he designed and built was not hence a building structure but rather an idea transformed into a visible form. It could be quite an easy feat of masonry to construct a strong, solid, rock-like podium with a towering height and create the temple on its base. Sri Guru Arjan thought differently. He carried the structure of this temple deep into the water, placed its floor along the tank’s water level and raised it into the sky to whatever height. The temple pervaded all three worlds – this world, the world below and the world above. Placed on a rock, or a rock-like solid base, his temple would not have roots in the world below. And, placed on a towering high plinth, it would have lost the touch of this world. His temple was much a part of the water, the earth and the sky.

The Harmandir Sahib or Sri Darbar Sahib is a vivid sign of the Sikh spiritual heritage. The temple situated in the water tank, its spiritual surroundings and melodious music have been a source of inspiration to the devotees visiting this shrine ever since its inception.

The Harmandir Sahib, blend of soul and matter is looked upon as a symbol of culture and conduct of the people having faith in Sikhism. It enshrines a liberal religious tradition materialized by noble deeds of piety, sacrifice and heroism. Contrary to old Indian temples with single entrance, the Golden Temple opens its four doors in all four directions for every one irrespective of one’s caste, creed and religion. Dedicated to no specific god or goddess and without any installed image or idol, the temple enshrines God Himself. Sikh name of this temple is ‘Harmandir Sahib’ – God’s temple or God’s abode. Its Indian name is ‘Darbar sahib’ that means a court or an audience chamber. In this Divine audience chamber devotees from far and distant places are admitted into the audience of God, Whose praise is sung by musicians in the temple in a traditional way.

The Divine is beyond time and space. But the Harmandir Sahib remains an exception, where we feel God, see the Lord, listen the Master and every visitor feels an experience of unification with Him!

Select Chronology of Harmandir Sahib and Amritsar:

1573 AD The construction work of the holy water tank started under the supervision of Guru RamDas Ji • 1577 AD Guru Ram Das Ji laid the foundation of Amritsar (earlier known as Ram Das Pur) • 1588 AD The foundation of Harmandir was laid by a Muslim saint Mian Mir • 1604 AD The central shrine completed • 1606 AD Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji adopted two swords, one for religious affairs and another for worldly affairs. Guru Hargobind Sahib ji also laid the foundation of Akal Takht • 1621 AD Guru Teg Bahadur Ji was born in Amritsar • 1628 AD The first ever Sikh-Mughal armed conflict, and the Sikhs emerged victorious under the command of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji • 1634 AD Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji left for Kiratpur with his devotees to avert possible attack on visiting Sikh devotees • 1665 AD Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji visited the Golden Temple after becoming the ninth Sikh Guru but he was denied entry by its priests • 1721 AD Bhai Mani Singh appointed the head priest and administrator of the Harmandir Sahib. After a century long period, the Harmandir Sahib’s control was again under the Sikhs • 1725 AD Dispute between the two Sikh sects over the Harmandir Sahib’s control. Bhai Mani singh resolved it in a fair manner • 1738 AD The head priest Bhai Mani Singh hacked into pieces for not paying demanded revenue to the Mughal authorities • 1739 AD The Mughals negotiated peace and granted independent territory [jagir] to the Sikhs • 1739 AD Persian king Nadis Shah attacks the Harmandir Sahib • 1740 AD The Sikhs avenged the act of sacrilege by a Mughal administrator named Massa Ranghard. Two Sikh warriors Sukha Singh and Mehtab Singh chopped his head in the sanctum where he was watching dance under he effect of alcohol with his friends and soldiers • 1745 AD A wave of suppression started to curb the Sikhs • 1757 AD Afghan King Ahmed Shah Abdali attacked the Harmandir Sahib and Baba Deep Singh martyred • 1762 AD After the greater holocaust of Feb 5, 1762 Afghan king Abdali Razed the Harmandir Sahib to the ground and filled its holy tank with debris, rubbish and animal carcasses • 1764 AD Once again Abdali came to Amritsar and ruined what ever he came across. Baba Gubaksh Singh and his thirty comrades were ruthlessly murdered near the Akal Takhat • 1767 AD Udasi saints Nirvan Pritam Das and Mahant Santokh Das brought 35 miles long water canal to fill the holy water tank with the water of river Ravi • 1773 AD Sikh Misal chiefs raised the building of Gurdwara baba Atal near the Golden Temple • 1776 AD Reconstruction of the damaged holy water tank, entrance gate and bridge • 1802 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh occupied the territory of Amritsar • 1808 AD Amritsar’s famous Gobindgarh fort was raised to shift Lahore’s treasure to Amritsar • 1813 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh obtained famous diamond “Ko-he-noor”, now studded in the English crown, and a great army march past in the streets of Amritsar • 1822 AD Amritsar’s fortification wall with twelve gates completed • 1831 AD Gold work on the Golden Temple Reached its final stages • 1839 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh came to Harmandir Sahib in March 1839, it proved his last visit • 1849 AD The Sikhs lost their rule over the unified territory of Punjab • 1857 AD Amritsar observed a little effect of the mutiny against the British • 1871 AD Kuka [Namdhari] movement rocked Amritsar, Several Muslim butchers were assassinated. British administrators hanged several Kuka disciples to death in Amritsar near Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer palace • 1873 AD Singh Sabha Movement gained roots • 1881 AD The British government introduced their management agents or managers [Sarbarah] to exercise their full control over the Harmandir Sahib • 1893 AD Khalsa College, Amritsar opened • 1902 AD Pro British chief Khala Diwan Formed • 1919 AD Jallian Wala Bagh massacre took life of several thousands innocent Sikhs and others on the Baisakhi day in Amritsar • 1921 AD The Sikhs took control of several Sikh shrines including the Harmandir Sahib. SGPC-like mother body emerged that took its final shape after some years • 1923 AD The first Kar Sewa or cleansing of the holy water tank took place • 1925 AD Sikh Gurdwara Act passed • 1947 AD Amritsar became a border city after India’s partition • 1949 AD Sikh Reference library formed • 1958 AD Central Sikh museum formed • 1973 AD The second Kar Sewa of the holy water tank • 1977 AD The city of Amritsar observed its 400th anniversary of its founding • 1978 AD Sikh – Nirankari conflict took life of thirteen innocent Sikh demonstrators and it changed the Punjab forever • 1984 AD Indian Army invaded Harmandir Sahib under operation “Blue Star”, that claimed life of several innocent thousands of lives and resulted into the destruction of the Harmandir Sahib complex • 1988 AD Another Para military action took place this year aimed to flush out Sikh militants from the Harmandir Sahib complex • 1988 AD Several thousand shops and houses generally of the Sikhs were removed to make a corridor around the Harmandir Sahib. It added long awaited beauty and space to the Harmandir Sahib • 1997 AD English Queen Elizabeth II and her husband paid a visit to the Harmandir Sahib • 2004 AD The Harmandir Sahib observed the first Kar Sewa of the 21st century for the purpose of installing water treatment plants. This year also observed the largest ever recorded strength of devotees visiting the Golden Temple at once, on the eve of Quadricentennial Installation celebrations of the Sikh Scripture in September 2004.


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  1. Gurdip Kaur said,

    July 5, 2006 at 5:47 am

    Marvelous Work, I don’t have words to comment on your passion. The photo speaks for itself. Waheguru has blessed you to go on this path and spread the love for Naam. I had tears in my eyes when I read and saw Bhagat Puran Singh’s article…I felt that Whaeguru himself was working in his body. I truly believe that Waheguru works through all of us to do certain things and he chose you to spread the love for Naam through your blog. May Waheguru be ang sang with you all the time.

    “Blessed are those who sees God in everything”

    Gurdip Kaur

  2. simply61 said,

    January 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    To me, as a person born and raised in Amritsar nothing could be dearer than darbar sahib.I recently visited it after a gap of 21 years and words can not describe the peace that embraced my soul when I entered the sacred place.
    Thnx for the lovely pictures and the history.

  3. Anonymous said,

    June 11, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Sat Sri Akal. Don’t miss the major new Golden Temple exhibition taking place in Central London this summer. The best of Sikh heritage and culture will be presented on the world stage, including priceless artefacts from Sikh history, rare paintings and photographs of the temple plus a series of talks by expert speakers. See and follow us on and Twitter @gt1588. Please forward this message to others!!

  4. Anonymous said,

    July 13, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Major New Exhibition – The Golden Temple of Amritsar

    Don’t miss the stunning new Sikh exhibition taking place in central London this summer (entrance to the exhibition is free).
    ‘The Golden Temple of Amritsar: Reflections of the Past’ will showcase the very best of Sikh heritage and culture on the world’s stage.
    Book your tickets now to the symposium days – engaging talks by international speakers, specially arranged to provide you with access in depth knowledge on this iconic building.
    The first of these ‘symposium sundays’ is on 17 July and tickets are available now at (includes free lunch).
    Exhibition highlights include:

    priceless Sikh artefacts on display for the first time

    rare paintings, photographs and archive film footage

    fascinating eyewitness accounts

    a lavishly illustrated exhibition publication
    To learn more, visit, and follow us on Twitter @gt1588.
    Please show your support by forwarding this message to others.

  5. Anonymous said,

    August 6, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Sikhs are terrible at PR
    We all know that, in recent times, Sikhs have faced an uphill struggle with their public image (post 1984, being confused for radical muslims, beards out of fashion etc) but the organisers of the major new Golden Temple exhibition in London have cited this as a key reason why they chose to launch it in Central London instead of in an area of Punjabi population. Personally, I don’t think we’re doing enough PR wise so I commend their decision….. To read their full defense, go to

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