History of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

The selected archeological site is the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. The shrine is one of the holiest places in India and perceived as the world’s prominent religious archeological sites by the Sikhs. The Golden Temple’s history begins when it was formed in the 16th century and later faced a series of demolitions owing to multiple religious and political conflicts in the country. However, the site was reconstructed in 1809 by Maharaja Ranjit Sigh where he used marble and copper to ensure a strong foundation. Later in 1830, Sigh coated the temple with a gold foil to enhance its golden appearance, resulting in the change of the gurdwara’s name to ‘The Golden Temple.’ The shrine is spiritual archeological site because it contains religious historical significance to the Sikh community.
Location and General Environmental Surrounding
The Golden Temple is located in Amritsar, India. The structure is about 40.5ft. square and was constructed on a 67ft. square platform. The shrine has multiple doors with the main ones located in the east, west, south, and north sides. An arch called Darshani Deori is erected on the causeway end with a doorframe of about 10ft. and 8ft. in height and breadth respectively (Arshi, 1980). The temple has a 13 feet wide bridge connecting the decorated door panels and main Sri Harmandir Sahib building which measures 202ft and 21ft in length and breadth respectively.
Furthermore, the 13ft wide bridge forms a circumambulatory path that passes round the main building and ends at the ‘Har ki Paure’, meaning the steps of God. The temple has multiple floors with the first floor having different readings, such as the Guru Grath Sahib at the Har ki Paure. The shrine has a dome called Gumbaz at the top that extends to form an inverted lotus at the high end and a lotus petal at the base (Arshi, 1980). The architecture of the temple contains a unique harmony that enhances religious beauty and peacefulness. Besides, the design is one of the best early architectural works and has led to the development of the Sikh school of architecture to help adopt the design in other temples. Therefore, the site is an important place for the Sikh community owing its excellent architectural design and spiritual significance.
Basic Dates
Approach of Determining Dates
The primary approach used to determine the dates of the Golden Temple is the relative dating. The site is relatively young and it entails preservation of the Sikh culture, making it easy to pass it history from one generation to the other. Besides, it is easy to determine the dates through typology because the archeologists compare reference objects, such as the architecture and occurrence of events, to determine significant periods of the site.
Basic Dates Associated with the Golden Temple
The pioneering brain for its construction was the fifth Guru known as Arjan Sahib. He was also the person that conceived the architectural look for the Temple. Guru Arjan initiated the construction of the Temple in 1576. He built its foundation on a low ground, which was contrary to most Hindu Temples that are established on a raised level (Arshi, 1980, p. 10). He, together with other both influential and devoted Sikhs, supervised the construction of the building from the start. They hired a prayerful Muslim, Sir Hazrat Mian Mir, in 1588 to build the foundation. He also made it with one gate that was both for getting inside and outside the Temple, a design also different from many Hindu Temples that have distinct gates for entrance and exit. His plan signified a new faith and promoted the access of the Temple to a variety of races, sex, and religion.
By August to December 1604, the workers finished the construction work of the Temple. During the same time, the Guru Granth Sahib had just been created. Guru Arjun then chose Baba Budha Ji to be the Granthi who would be reading the scripture of Guru Granth sahib. These events would officially make the Golden structure a location for pilgrimage for the Sikh people (Jutla, 2016, p. 260). Later in the 19th century, under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the marble that was initially used to construct the structure was covered with gold. The gold covering was completed in 1830, with an estimated 750kg of it being used in the Temple. Today, the site is one of the holiest the Sikhs can visit (Foster, 2012).
Maharaja Ranjit Sign is believed to have made the gold coating to the upper floors of the holy place to prevent it from further attacks. Previously, many invaders, including Afghans, attacked Sri Harmandir Sahib and its city of Amritsar killing many Sikhs and civilians. For instance, Ahmed Shah Abdali attacked India and the Temple several times, intending to eliminate the Sikh nation (Chopra, 2013, p. 26). His attacks of 1757, 1762, and 1764 left many dead and wounded, particularly leading to the death of religious leaders such as Baba Deep Singh in 1757. Ahmed last attacked Amritsar in 1767 but never entered the Temple after whence it was under control of Sikhs until its invasion by the Indian Army in 1984 under operation Blue Star.
Basic Function of the Site
The primary function of the Golden temple was to provide a sacred place where Sikhs from different parts of India would meet and worship. Besides, the Golden Temple got its name after Hari, the Temple of God. The constructors of the temple, mainly the fifth Nanak, wanted to build a place that would have universal access to all Sikhs in the world to meet and worship God. The Golden Temple was constructed on land bought by Ramdas Sahib from the local natives, Zamindar landlords. Other previous Sahibs had ensured that the neighborhood around the structure would be a town along with a holy tank known as Sarovar. All these developments started in 1570 and aimed at helping the Sikhs to worship.
Issues with the Destruction of the Site
The Onset of the Blue Star Operation
The primary threats to the destruction of the site by modern human activities is the occurrence of attacks aiming the Sikhs at the region. The Blue Star Operation is one of the modern attacks that resulted in the destruction of the site. Operation Blue Star took place from 1 to 8 June 1984. During this time, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a militant extremist in Punjab, took over Harmandir Sahib and led the people of Amritsar into seeking independence from India. During this time, the previously dormant Khalistan political group threatened to fight for freedom of the Sikh nation in India. Indra Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, used this operation as a solution to the revolts against the constitution and law that were going on in Punjab. The military was to take down such militants who she believed were using the Golden Temple to hide weapons for an uprising against the government.
Operation Blue Star was carried out under two divisions and later a second phase. The first was operation Metal that was to limit its surveillance and actions to the Golden Temple. However, it led to the Operation Shop that captures suspects that were found outside Punjab in North-Western India. This division was the one to stop Jarnail Singh and his influence on young citizens to join Sikhism and fight. The second division was Operation Woodrose that covered the entire Punjab community. The Indian military used weapons such as tanks and armored vehicles to patrol around Punjab cleaning it from other revolutions.
The effects of the attack
Consequently, Operation Blue Star had human casualties, just like any other violent military operation. According to official reports, an estimated 83 military personnel lost their lives during the conflict whereas 492 civilian citizens also died due to the unrest. Other independent sources may report figures higher than these. Jarnail Singh was also among the victims who died as a result of the actions of the military forces.
The Aftermath
After the completion of Operation Blue Star, the law was restored in Punjab, and normal operations resumed in the Golden Temple. However, many people in the Sikh nation criticized this operation as it cost the lives of many innocent citizens (Smith, 2018). Moreover, tension increased between the members of the Sikh community and the government. This, in the end, resulted in two Sikh bodyguards of Indra Gandhi assassinating her on 31 October 1984. These following events led to increased concerns for the security of the Sikh community. In later years to come, political unrest led to a terrorist attack in the Golden Temple that would again require military intervention.
Efforts by the Local Government to Protect the Site
Operation Black Thunder came in as the second phase of Operation Blue Star after the restoration of harmony in the Sikhs nations. Operation Black Thunder was conducted from 9 May 1988 by trained commandos from the National Security Guards (NSG). They were to continue removing Sikh extremists from the Golden Temple after the first phase had removed some on April 30, 1980. The Black Cats from NSG were to fight terrorists who had occupied the complex Structure. The early success of Operation Black Thunder saw146 hostages released by the terrorists on May 15 and continuing success led to the militia groups surrendering by themselves. The operation was done by 18 May 1988.
Significance of the Site to World Prehistory
The Golden Temple is significant to the ancient history of the local area because it symbolizes the cultural and spiritual identify of the Sikh community. For instance, the temple has a unique design and architecture that the Sikhs teach their current generations, symbolizing their culture through art. Besides, the gurdwara in Amritsar is significant because it was used by the ancient society as a sacred place and a center of worship for Sikhs.
In closing, the Golden Temple was and still is a prestigious place meant to unite people. Its design was made to accommodate diverse needs for religious satisfaction and as a symbol for great respect for God. However, some individuals used its design and sacredness to satisfy their needs as depicted by actions of Jarnail Singh. Consequent actions by the government to stop such actions resulted into devastating effects but with success. Final restoration of order was also possible even after the unrest. Even today, Punjab holds celebrations to remember the Operation Blue Star effects to the people and the temple. It is important to learn to protect social institution such as religion to avoid consequences of going to war when such aspects are not considered in a nation of diverse religious customs.

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