Around Harmandir Sahib
A visit to the Harmandir Sahib is incomplete without a visit to the following among others-
1. AKAL TAKHAT
It rightly faces the Harmandir Sahib. Built by the Sixth Master Guru Hargobind (1606-44) in 1609, has been the nerve centre or the Sikhism ever since. All commandments affecting the community as a whole were and are issued from here. The Akal Takhat was used for holding court and Sikh congregations in the days of its builder.
The Akal Takhat was pulled down several times by the Muslim raiders. The ground floor of the present building was constructed in 1 874. Three storeys were subsequently added by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. A number of weapons used by Guru Hargobind, Guru Gobind Singh and other Sikh heroes are preserved at Akal Takhat. In 1984 during Operation Blue Star Akal Takhat was badly damaged by the Indian Army.
2. BABA ATAL
A nine-storeyed tower, built in memory of Atal Rai (D. 1628), a son of Hargobind, is called Baba Atal. Atal Rai died at nine. He was called ‘Baba’ (an old man) head over young shulders. The tower was built between 1778 and 1784. It is the only of its kind in the city with 108 ft. height.
3. GURU KA LANGAR
A Sikh temple without a Community Kitchen is inconceivable. Cooked food is serviced in the kitchen of the Harmandir Sahib 24 hours to all visitors irrespective of religion, caste, creed and nationality. The expenses are met out of the Temple funds. Approximately 40,000 visitors share the meals everyday presently.
4. SRI GURU RAM DAS NIWAS
The Niwas is a free hostel for the pilgrims maintained by the Temple authorities. It has been built by the Gurdwara Committee. It has 228 rooms and 18 big halls. Unlike the ordinary ‘Daramsalas’ the Niwas supplies the facilities of free beddings, cots, lights and fans etc. to the lodgers. A lodger is not generally allowed to stay here for more than three days at a time. The doors of the hostels are open to all. The lodgers however must not do anything repugnant to the teachings of Sikhism.
5. GURU NANAK NIWAS
There are 66 Rooms in Guru Nanak Niwas-22 with attached baths and 4-4 without baths, but on each floor there are 10 bath rooms and fen flush latrines so as to make stay comfortable.
6. AKAL REST HOUSE
There is Akal Rest House having 26 rooms with double beds and attached bath rooms are provided on a nominal Rent.
7. GURU HARGOBIND NIWAS
There are 92 double bed rooms with attached bath in addition to four halls. Rooms are available at Rs. 50/- per day.
8. GURU ARJAN DEV NIWAS
An accomodation adjacent to Guru Nanak Niwas with 1 00 rooms coming up.
9. THE SGPC OFFICES
The headquarters of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee are located in the Teja Singh Samundri Hall near the Harmandir Sahib. The Gurdwara Act 1925, transferred the control of the historical Sikh Shrines in the Punjab to the SGPC. It is a representative body of the Sikhs elected by adult franchise.
Among the other objects of interest around the Harmandir Sahib worth mentioning are :
(a) Dukh Bhanjni Ber (Jujube Tree)
(b) Thara Sahib
(c) Ber Baba Budha Ji
(d) Gurdwara llachi Ber
(e) Ath Sath Tirath (Sixty eight holy places condensed into one) &
(f) Gurdwara Shaheed Bunga Baba Deep Singh.
The Harmandir Sahib possesses a fine collection of jewellery and valuable articles of considerable artistic and historical importance. The following deserve a special mention :
(a) GOLDEN DOOR PANELS – There are four pairs of them.
(b) GOLDEN CANOPY – The canopy studded with precious jewels, is an object of exquisite workmanship and great artisitic value.
(c) JEWELLED HEAD-BAND- It is a gift from Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was prepared for the marriage of the son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at the time of marriage. The Maharaja presented it to the Harmandir Sahib.
10. CENTRAL SIKH MUSEUM-
Central Sikh Museum has paintings of Sikh Gurus, Saints, Sikh warriors and other prominent Sikh leaders who have in their own way contributed a lot to the enhancement of Sikh Religion.