Sikhism, which is the youngest of the world religions (barely five hundred years old) was founded by Guru Nanak. He was born in 1469 and believed in spreading a simple message of "Ek Ong Kar": we are all one, created by the One Creator of all Creation. The birth of Sikhism was at a time when India was being torn apart by castes, sectarianism, religious factions, and fanaticism. He aligned with no religion, and respected all religions. He expressed the reality that there is one God and many paths, and the Name of God is Truth, "Sat Nam".
The followers of Guru Nanak were Sikhs (seekers of truth). He taught them to bow only before God, and to link themselves to the Guru, the Light of Truth, who lives always in direct consciousness of God, experiencing no separation. Through words and example, the Guru demonstrates to followers how to experience God within themselves, bringing them from darkness into light. Guru Nanak was a humble bearer of this Light of Truth. He opposed superstition, injustice, and hypocrisy and inspired seekers by singing divine songs which touched the hearts of the most callous listeners. These songs were recorded, and formed the beginnings of the Sikhs' sacred writings, later to become the "Siri Guru Granth Sahib".
Located right in the heart of Amritsar, the highly revered Golden Temple or Sri Harmandir Sahib is one of the most prominent and spiritual places in India. The temple is a two-storied structure with its top half covered in almost 400 kg of pure gold leaf, which is what earned it its English moniker. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the leader of the Sikh empire, is believed to have initiated the construction in the 19th century. The rest of the temple complex is built in white marble, inlaid with precious and semi-precious colourful stones. To create motifs, the pietra dura technique has been used. The grand temple complex is awe-inspiring in its size. The stunning golden architecture of the temple and the daily Langar (community kitchen) attract a large number of visitors and devotees each day. The temple is open to devotees of all faiths and serves over 100,000 people free food from all walks of life. The main Temple housing the shrine is a small part of the vast complex known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib to the Sikhs. The spiritual focus is the tank, the Amrit Sarovar, which surrounds the glistening central shrine. Around the edges of the compound, there are more shrines and monuments.
One must cover one’s head and remove his/her footwear before entering the Golden Temple, as a mark of respect. As one listens to the beautiful notes of Gurbani (spiritual songs), the serene spirituality of the temple soothes the soul. One can also partake of the free meal that is offered here to around 20,000 people every day at the Guru Ka Langar (community meal), regardless of caste, creed or gender. The entire process is managed by volunteers and is one of the most humbling experiences you can have.
Located near the bank of Sutlej River in Punjab, the Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara is one of the holiest places for Sikhs as the Khalsa Panth was founded here. Anandpur Sahib, the Holy City of Bliss, is about 95 km north-west of Chandigarh, Punjab. The city is located in the Rupnagar district (Roper) in the state of Punjab, India. It is nestled between the Shivalik hills in the east and Sutlej River at far west. Furthermore, this place is surrounded with vast green stretch that delivers calmness and spiritualism in its aroma. It is considered as the holiest place of Sikh religion where Shiri Guru Gobind Singh Ji spent 25 years of his life teaching and guiding his disciplines.
Located in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab on the banks of river Beas is Gurdwara Goindwal Sahib which is another famous Sikh site. It is known as the 1st Sikh pilgrimage site and is where the 3rd Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Amar Das Ji, lived and preached for 33 years. It is also where he coined the idea of langar or community kitchen and where he built a Baoli or well from where people of all caste, colour, creed and religion could drink from. The baoli constructed here has 84 steps and many believe that by reciting the Japji Sahib and taking a bath in this well will provide salvation and unity with the Divine by liberating the soul from 84 lakh cycles of living and dying.
Formally known as Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib Ji, this holy place is located at an altitude of 15,000 feet from sea level, Shri Hemkund Sahib is a significant holy shrine and pilgrimage destination for Sikhs in India and is dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) who was the tenth Sikh Guru. Thousands of devotees take on this arduous yet picturesque pilgrimage every year. Built on the banks of the glacial Lokpal Lake and surrounded by seven gigantic yet mesmerizing peaks, it is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Hindu pilgrims hold this shrine in high accord for their mythological God, Lakshmana, with tales of association to this site from Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Paonta Sahib is a vibrant, industrial town located in the Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Apart from hosting significant industries, it is also a prominent place of worship for the Sikh community. The noted Gurudwara Paonta Sahib, built in the memory of Shri Guru Gobind Singh, is situated on the banks of the river Yamuna in this town and attracts many pilgrims round the year. In his memoirs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji has described his time in the city as the happiest years of his life where he witnessed amusement of various kinds. The place where the Gurdwara now stands is where Guru Ji stayed with his family. The gurdwara also has a museum with Guru Ji’s war antiques and other weapons. The Palki on which the religious Sikh text, Guru Granth Sahib Ji is kept, is made of pure gold.
Also known as Harmandir Sahib, the Takht Sri Patna Sahib is a Gurdwara in the neighbourhood of Patna Sahib, India. The holy shrine was built to commemorate the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs on December 1666. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who also built many other Gurdwaras in the Indian subcontinent. The current shrine of Patna Sahib or Takht Sri Harmandirji Sahib was built in the 1950s.Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, was born in Patna, Bihar, on 22 December 1666. He also spent his early years here before moving to Anandpur Sahib. Besides being the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, Patna was also honored by visits from Guru Nanak Dev Ji as well as Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji.
Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib is a complex comprising of several shrines located in the Town of Sirhind. This place of worship marks the 1710 conquest of this city by the Sikhs under the able leadership of Banda Bahadur. Fatehgarh Sahib has secured a prominent place in history as the battleground of the war between the Muslims and the Sikhs. A Gurudwara was eventually built to commemorate the bravery of the younger sons of Shri Guru Gobind Singh who were bricked-up alive at that exact site. The Gurudwara of Fatehgarh Sahib is an essential religious venue among the Sikh community. It is highly regarded for the calm and peaceful vibes that it rubs off on its visitors.
The Sarovar is a large pool located on the premises. The sons of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji were bricked-up alive against a wall. This historical wall has been preserved in the Gurudwara Bhora Sahib. Gurudwara Burj Mata Gujri marks the site where the two younger sons and mother of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji were kept imprisoned. They were confined in a narrow tower, and it is believed that Mata Gujari jumped off it on hearing the news of the execution of her grandsons. The Gurudwara Shahid Ganj was built to honour the memories of those Sikh soldiers who were killed while fighting the Mughals. They were cremated at this site. The Todar Mal Jain Hall is a huge hall that was built in the memory of Seth Todar Mal. He is attributed to have purchased the land for the cremation of the Sikh martyrs, by paying gold coins.
Gurdwara Sri Tarn Taran Sahib was established by the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev, in the city of Tarn Taran Sahib, Punjab, India. The site has the distinction of having the largest sarovar (water pond) of all the gurdwaras and is famous for the monthly gathering of pilgrims on the day of Amavas (a no-moon night). It is near Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar. The name 'Tarn Taran' was given to the Sarovar which means 'a boat that takes one across the ocean of existence.' The shrine was built in the Mughal style of architecture. The lotus dome that covers the three-storeyed building was damaged during the 1905 earthquake. The holy Gurudwara sees kirtan recitals every day which start from the early hours of the morning and lasts until late evening, which the visitors to the site have the privilege of witnessing. It is also immensely famous for the gathering of pilgrims on the day of Amavas.
Visitors and pilgrims believe that the Sarovar's water has medicinal qualities and is also said to be capable of curing leprosy. The famous Gurudwara displays elegant stucco work reflecting on glass pieces and intricate designs on the ceiling and the inner walls. Only the upper section of the structure is covered in glittering gold sheets. The Guru Granth Sahib is placed on a platform under an elongated dome. This platform was an offering from Kanvar Nau Nihil Singh, Grandson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The main hall or Darbar Sahib of the building is plated in gold with a marble inlay. The flight of marble stairs behind this hall leads pilgrims to the spot where Guru Arjan Dev made the first cut for the digging of the magnificent Tarn Taran Sarovar in 1590. Over the years, additional buildings have been added to the complex.
Gurudwara Shri Baba Bakala Sahib is situated in the Baba Bakala town in Amritsar, India and is one of the important spiritual and holy places for the Sikhs. The town of Baba Bakala was originally known as Bakkan-Wala (meaning 'Town of the Deer' in Persian) however over time this was shortened to Bakala. The town was originally a mound, where deer were found grazing. In 1664, before passing away in Delhi, the Guru at the time, Guru Har Krishan uttered "Baba Bakale" which the Sikhs at the time interpreted as meaning that the Guru's successor was to be found at the town of Bakala, close to Amritsar. The Sikhs now had to find the true Guru in Bakala. After which many people from in Baba Bakala declared them self as the next Guru. On other side Bhai Makhan Shah Lubhana, a banjara trader from Jhelum district was on his ship when loaded with goods was caught in storm, resulting he prayed to God, to Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, for rescue and promised that he would pay 500 dinars to Guru Sahib for charity. By the grace of God, he safely landed to the port and as promised, he came to Baba Bakala to pay his said amount. However, when he reached here, he found several imposters posing themselves as the Guru. In order to find the true Guru, he decided to offer 2 dinars to every one posing themselves as Guru. As per his expectation none of them questioned him for the promised amount. But when He placed two dinars in front of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, Guru Sahib said that he had promised to pay 500 dinars and now he was paying only 2. Listening this Makhan Shah Lubhana Ji climbed up to the rooftop and shouted that he found the true Guru.
Sikhi teaches a message based on the principles of love and oneness and calls on all followers to be spiritual warriors. Meditation, service, and justice are core aspects of the Sikh way of life. Sikhi is a distinct religious tradition that maintains its own distinctive features, including founders, scripture, worship, ceremonies and traditions.