(Golden Temple Amritsar)
The Harimandir, now called the Golden Temple, is a living symbol of spiritual and historical traditions of the Sikhs. The tank and the temple have been a source of inspiration to the Sikh community ever since their foundation. It is evident from the Sikh chronicles that the Sikh Gurus had evolved traditions of founding new Sikh centers which were popularized among their followers as places of pilgrimage The foundation of Sri Harimandir Sahib is the most significant achievement of the Sikh Gurus as a centre of inspiration and action for the Sikhs. Soon after its foundation the temple became an unparalleled establishment as a place of pilgrimage. The origin of the place where Sri Harimandir stands is shrouded in mystery. Some traditions trace its origin from the pre-historic period as a place of considerable religious importance in the form of an Amrit Kund (Spring of Nectar). This version is derived from ancient Hindu legends recorded in the Puranas. The tradition (further carried back to the great Hindu epic Ramayana is supplemented by the belief that the place lost its eminence under the sway of the Buddhist movement, which had swept away some of the important Hindu places of pilgrimage. Its surroundings had a geo-graphical importance and formed a commercial link between India and Afghanistan. However, the site of the temple was lying in oblivion before it was visited by the Sikh Gurus.
One of the most revered of all Sikh Shrines, the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara, the Worlds Highest Gurudwara, situated at an altitude of 4,329 mts above sea level, on the bank of a glacial lake Hemkund (Lok Pal), marks the place where Guru Gobind Singh the 10th and the last Guru unified with God after prolonged meditation. The shrine is encircled by seven snow clad peaks and their associated glaciers. Streams from Hati Parvat and Sapt Rishi Peaks feed the lake and a small stream called Himganga flows out of his lake. According to the Holy Granth Sahib, it is believed that Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of the sikhs recounts that in a previous life he had meditated on the shores of a lake surrounded by seven snowcapped mountains. Hemkund Sahib, Sikh pilgrims have decided, is that holy lake where there 10th Guru has meditated. The Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara is an imposing star shaped structure of stone and masonry at the edge of lake Lok Pal 2 km. in circumference whose cristal clear water mirrors the image of snow clad Sapt Shring Peaks (5500 mts).
Ponta Sahib is situated on the river Yamuna, on the Border with Uttrakhand. It is linked with Guru Gobind Singh the 10th Sikh Guru who lived here. At Bhangani, 23 Km. away, he achieved a great military victory when his forces defeated the combined might of 22 hill-country kingdom. His weapons are displayed in the town and his Gurudwara still overlooks the river.
Anandpur Sahib, the holy city of Bliss, as the name translates, is the second most important centre of Sikh religion. Its foundation was laid by the ninth Guru,Teg Bahadur Sahib, in 1664 AD. From here eleven years later, he left for Delhi to the court of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb to plead for greater religious tolerance and an end to religious persecution. Here his severed head was brought to his son and family. It was here the Khalsa, or the Pure, was born under the leadership of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh Sahab, on 30 March, 1699. The important places of interest are: Gurudwara Sri Sis Ganj built overthe site where the severed head of Guru Teg Bhadur Sahib was cremated; Gurudwara Sri Kesgarh Sahib standing at the place where the five brave followers of Guru Gobind Singh offered their heads and the Khalsa Panth was born (it is also one of the five seats of religious authority), Gurudwara Damdama Sahib marking the site where Gobind Singh was proclaimed the tenth Guru; various forts and fortresses; and the museum housed in the Gurudwara Keshgarh Sahib displaying some of the weapons and arms associated with Guru Gobind Singh and others.
Gurdwara Bangla Sahib is situated near to Connaught Place in New Delhi. The place where the Gurdwara now stands was once a splendid bungalow of Raja Jai Singh Amber of Jaipur. Guru Sri Harkishan, the eighth guru of the Sikhs, stayed in this bungalow as guest of Raja Jai Singh. Since that time, the bungalow has assumed sanctity for both Hindus as well as Sikhs. Delhi Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, in has a quite simple and large main hall covered by a small golden dome with a sculpted bronze cupola.
Located in the Bhatinda district, Damdama Sahib or Talwandi Sabo is attached with great significance for Sikhs. This is where Guru Gobind Singhji sought refuge during his battles against the Mughals. It was here that he worked on the Adi Granth. The Baisakhi festival (from 13th to 15th of April) is hugely celebrated at Damdama Sahib and Sikh pilgrims from various parts of the world gather here to pay homage to Guru Gobind Singhji. This has been a ritual for about 250 years and ultimately coincides with the Rabi, harvesting festival.
Along the banks of Godavari in Nanded, Maharashtra, is situated the Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib where Guru Gobind Singh died. The inner chamber of the temple is called Angitha Sahib. It marks the site where the Guru set his camp holding his court and congregation in 1708 AD.
Another of the important Gurudwaras for Sikh pilgrims is at Sirhind - Fatehgarh Sahib Gurudwara. The shrine stands on the site where the two sons of Guru Gobind Singhji were buried alive by the Mughals. It stands as a commemoration site for the martyrdom and to pay holy offerings to them and to their Guru. The annual Jor Mela in December draws several people.