Sri Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, literally means "the House of God”. The shrine consists of Darbar Sahib, which is surrounded by the Holy Tank (Amrit Sarovar). It was constructed under the aegis of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the Fifth Sikh Guru. He wanted to build a common place of worship for the Sikhs, providing a common platform where all the Sikhs could gather and offer prayer to the Almighty. This wish initiated the idea of constructing Golden Temple and subsequently, he designed the architecture of the temple. Prior to him, Guru Amardas Sahib, the third Guru, had planned the excavation of the Holy Tank (Amrit Sarovar), but it was executed only by Guru Ramdas Sahib, under the supervision of Baba Budha Ji.
The earlier Guru Sahibs acquired the site from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. The plan to establish a town settlement was also made. Therefore, the construction work on the Sarovar (The Tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The tank was excavated in 1577 A.D. and was subsequently called "Amritsar”, meaning the pool of the nectar of immortality. This contributed in naming the city, which grew around it (Amritsar). In due course, a splendid Sikh edifice, Darbar Sahib (Temple of God) was constructed in the middle of this tank, which became the prime centre of Sikhism. The work on both projects was completed in 1577 A.D.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji laid the foundation of Golden Temple with the help of a Muslim saint Hazrat Mian Mir Ji of Lahore, on 1st of Magh (December, 1588). The construction work was directly supervised by Guru Arjan Sahib, with the assistance of prominent Sikh personalities like Baba Budha Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bhai Sahlo Ji and many other devoted Sikhs. Guru Arjan Sahib built the building on the lower level, unlike the traditional Hindu Temple architecture, where it is normally built on a higher structure.
Golden Temple deviated from a temple in another aspect, by being open from all four sides, rather than having only one gate for both entrance and exit. This symbolized the dawn of a new faith, which embraces people without any distinction of caste, creed, sex and religion. The building work was completed in 1604 A.D and Guru Arjan Dev Ji installed the Adi Granth in it. He appointed Baba Budha ji as its first Granthi i.e. the reader of Guru Granth Sahib. After this event, it attained the status of 'Ath Sath Tirath’.
Legends Connected With Amrit Sarovar
The most popular legend connected with (Amrit Sarovar) is the story of Rajni, the daughter of Rai Duni Chand. Rajni was an ardent devotee of Guru. One day, her father got some gifts for all the three daughters. While the other two daughters praised the father, Rajni stated that the gifts were actually from God and that her father was only the medium to deliver it. Hearing this, the father got very angry and made her marry a patient of leprosy. From then onwards, Rajni started struggling to sustain herself and her husband.
One day, Rajni she placed the basket containing her husband near a pool and went for some work. In the meantime, her husband saw a crow plunging into the water of the pool and coming out transformed into a white bird. Excited over the sight, he too plunged into the water and the miracle transformation occurred. He turned into a handsome young man, with all diseases cured. The couple thanked God and went to their Guru to narrate the happening. It is believed that since then, the tank came to be known as the "Amrit Sarovar” meaning "the pool of nectar”.