The COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to want to disappear anytime soon, and as it appears to be escalating, the government has decided to ease the stay at home rules and allow for places of worship to reopen. While some places have gone ahead and reopened, others have decided to shut their doors for the time being. Also Read - Tirupati: Huge Number of Devotees Wait in Line to Get Free Tokens For Visit to Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple in Tirumala

India is a country with many faiths, and it is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Each of them have temples that are styled according to their beliefs, and today we look at the Golden Temple, which is the spiritual site of Sikhism located in the Indian state of Punjab in the city of Amrtisar. Also Read - Legend of Kedarnath Temple: Know About Its History as Temples Reopen Post COVID-19 Lockdown

History of Golden Temple:

The land on which the Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib, meaning ‘abode of God’, stands was according to Sikh historical records, chosen by Guru Amar Das – the third Guru of the Sikh tradition. Guru Amar Das had asked his disciple Ram Das to look for land with a man-made pool as its central point to start a new town. Also Read - Legend of Badrinath Temple: As Shrines Reopen Post COVID-19 Lockdown, Here's More History on The Famous Religious Place

When Ram Das succeeded Guru Amar Das in 1574 he faced opposition from the latter’s sons, and it in turn led him to create a new town called Ramdaspur. He stayed true to the instructions of Guru Amar Das and constructed a pool, and after that his new official centre and home next to it.

It was only in 1581 that the construction of the Gurdwara was initiated by Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru of Sikhism, and it took 8 years to complete the first version of the Harmandir Sahib. The temple was built with bricks and it was completed in 1589, and it is believed that he had invited the Sufi saint Mir Mian Mohammed of Lahore to lay its foundation stone.

After expanding and compiling the first version of the Sikh scripture, Guru Arjan placed a copy of the Adi Granth in the temple and appointed Baba Buddha as the first Granthi.

Destruction And Rebuilding of Golden Temple:

The Golden Temple was destroyed a number of times by Muslim armies from Afghanistan and the Mughal Empire, and each time it was rebuilt. Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Durrani, also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali, had demolished it in 1757 and again in 1762, filling the pool with garbage and pouring cow’s blood into it. But the Sikhs rebuilt the temple, and when Maharaja Ranjit Singh founded the Sikh Empire, he rebuilt the temple in marble and copper and overlaid the sanctum with gold foil, earning it the name Golden Temple.

Another time the structure suffered damage was during Operation Blue Star when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to attack militants that were hiding in it. In the early 1980s, the Golden Temple was occupied by various militant groups, and in June 1984, Indira Gandhi ordered the attack. The gun battle caused severe damage and destroyed the Akal Takht, while also killing numerous soldiers, civilians and militants. After Rajiv Gandhi became the next Prime Minister he ordered the repairs of the Akal Takht in 1986, but the repairs were removed and the Akal Takht Sahib was rebuilt in 1999 by Sikhs.

The Golden Temple is open to people from all walks of life, and it houses Sikh history museums, and a langar where free food is served to all who wish to partake of it.