It doesn’t matter what your faith or religious belief is, experiencing the Golden Temple in Amritsar is for everyone. But it really is one of those places you just have to visit once. Not just for the manmade pond or the beauty of Mughal and Indian architecture or the pure 24 karat gold used to build the main sanctum. Reasons to visit the Golden Temple transcend far beyond these. And don’t think of this site as just a religious experience or sightseeing activity.
The Golden Temple is also known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib. And just like it has multiple names, it has multiple facets to it. You don’t have to be religious, spiritual or even a history buff to visit this place. But we strongly recommend that you visit the Golden Temple at least once. Here are a few things you must know about the place.
When should you visit the Golden Temple?
You can visit the Golden Temple throughout the year. Generally the winter months from November to February is considered a good time to visit because it’s cool here. But if you ask us, you can visit anytime depending on which weather suits you best. Guru Nanak Jayanthi and Baisakhi are two festivals during which you can visit. They are two significant Sikh events, so the Golden Temple is an even more enticing spectacle at this point.
The Golden Temple is also open on all days of the week so you can visit anytime. Timings are 4 am to 11 PM. But don’t plan your visit in such a way that you only stay for a couple of hours and leave. We understand that this might not appeal to everyone, but we genuinely would recommend spending a good few hours or half a day here. Plan things in such a way that you get to spend at least 4-5 hours here. Even more if possible.
There’s obviously a stark difference in how the structure looks post sundown and early in the morning. But both are truly magnificent sights. So if you want to witness this magical structure glimmering against a dark backdrop, you should definitely visit around 4 pm. That way, you’ll get to experience the Golden Temple in 2 different lights.
What to do in the Golden Temple?
One important thing you have to know is that there’s always a huge queue to enter the temple. You could be waiting for hours straight. But that’s a magical experience. The temple is decorated with numerous ornaments and the intricate artwork is really mesmeric. You will also witness a huge chandelier hanging on top which looks stunning. In the middle of it all will be a stage with Guru Granth Sahib and many traditional musicians around.
There’s also the Central Sikh Museum inside the complex itself to learn a bit about their history. You could also take a dip in Amrit Sarovar, which is the pond that’s believed to be sacred. Spend some time just soaking in the vibe of the place, with kirtans being played in the backdrop. Even amidst thousands of people, the place can seem peaceful. You could simply just walk around or even engage in people watching or just sit down and relax.
One thing you should definitely do is have a meal at the langar. You will get simple but delicious vegetarian food which includes chapati, rice, dal and kheer. Everyone is seated on the floor, given the same thing to eat. It’s interesting how they don’t put the chapati on your plate. You are supposed to lift your hands. All of this to uphold the values of togetherness and not discriminate. But please do not waste any food. Just take as much as is needed.
What makes the Golden Temple special?
More than anything, it’s the values and the vibes of the place that is so damn pure. It’s not just the main golden sanctum we’re talking about. The entire complex has a really nice vibe to it. At Harmandir Sahib, the idea is to leave everything behind and enter with a clean spirit. Which is why you are supposed to wash your hands and legs before entering the complex. Also, you have to cover your heads. Either with a handkerchief or you can get a cap there.
Moreover, the langar here serves about 50,000 people in one day. And a lot of people also do volunteering for the kitchen. Yet, the organisation and coordination levels are unbelievable. Add all of this to the fact that you could be of any religion or race yet you will be welcome here. Another interesting thing is that the temple is built below ground level to signify humility. In essence, it’s a combination of all these factors which make this place so special!
Volunteering at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
This is something you can be a part of. Everyday, Harmandir Sahib feeds thousands of people. So they obviously have to cook insane amounts of food, amongst other tasks. You could volunteer at their kitchen and help with different things. It could be cutting vegetables, washing dishes, applying ghee to chapatis or anything else. Everything is divided in different segments because of the large quantities of food that is prepared. Just ask someone at the kitchen area and they will guide you.
Anyone who visits the temple can also stay there. There’s an office within the complex where you can ask regarding that and they will guide you. Just another factor which makes this place so amazing.