BANGALORE: It was five in the morning and pretty cold for the March month when we arrived to see the Golden Temple in its entire splendour. The melodious and devotional tones of the soulful Gurbani shabads echoes in my mind even today and as we walked in the long corridors to see the emergence of the golden spires, I was amazed at the discipline of the queuing crowds as they neither jostled nor shouted at anyone to go ahead.
This is a peaceful, serene environment and one can actually immerse in this holy retreat for any amount of time without being disturbed by anybody or hassled by the temple caretakers. The pristine Sarovar (tank) is so clean and sublime that one can sit before it for hours together.
We saw many people doing their seva by cleaning the marble floors while others volunteering to give information on the historicity of the Gurudwara.
As the sun emerged in these sylvan surroundings, the Golden Temple too shimmered and reflected in the serene waters of the Sarovar casting a magical moment for all the people here. This was an unforgettable sight and the most beautiful one I have ever seen in my life.
As the Sri Harmandir Sahib is surrounded by this tank on all sides, one has to walk a long marbled pathway amid cool surroundings and then enter a bridge or a causeway. From here, one has to walk almost 200 feet to reach the main building of the temple.
Entering the Darshani Deori which is nothing but an artistically decorated arch, one reaches the main shrine to hear the continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. On a jewel studded platform is the sacred scripture of the Sikhs and one has to go quietly as there is a huge crowd waiting for their turn.
One is allowed in the sanctum sanctorum only for a few minutes to get a glimpse of the sacred book or listen to the mesmerising chants of the hymns to the accompaniment of harmonium, tabla and various stringed instruments. I was surprised when one of the volunteers asked me to come and seek the blessings personally from the Granthi.
With our guide Manjit Singh egging me and telling me that I was one of the fortunate ones as only 100 people in a day are selected randomly to receive this honour, I made my way forward.
I received a Saropa comprising a two metre long orange scarf and batashas. I came out feeling exhilarated as nearly one lakh people visit the temple daily from all parts of the country.
On our return from the main temple complex, we strolled along the long marble pathways surrounding the temple. One could see many devotees and pilgrims immersing in the cool waters of the Sarovar while fish danced in the blue waters that is fed by an underground spring all the year round. The temple is technically a three storied structure embellished with gold and precious stones.
This temple is unique in style as it incorporates both Hindu and Islamic architectural influences.
The guide further informed us that all the gold plating work and the exquisite marble work in the temple complex was carried out during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time, the most benevolent king of the Sikh empire, who is remembered till date for his generous contributions and donations.
Apart from this, there are three holy trees in the complex that signify a particular event or connected to the sacrifices made by the gurus. This is a must visit for anyone visiting Amritsar, the holy city comprising the golden temple.