Golden Temple gold losing its lustre

Less than a decade after the entire pure gold sheet of the shrine was replaced in 1999 – after three years of laborious workmanship – the hundreds of kilos of gold have started to turn black.

The Sikh community internationally had got together with Punjab Sikhs and religious bodies to get the gold layer of the shrine – completed in 1,604 – changed. Hundreds of kilograms of gold were used in re-laying the gold sheet over the shrine.

The dome of the shrine and its upper storey outer and inner walls have gold leaf layers.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) this week installed four pollution-monitoring machines in buildings around the sanctum sanctorum to see the level of pollution that was affecting the famous shrine.

"We will monitor the pollution being caused in this area. t of this could be from smoke-emitting auto-rickshaws, hotels in the vicinity of the Golden Temple and also small-time working units like those of goldsmiths and blacksmiths," a pollution board official said. But devotees to the holy shrine are not satisfied.

"They must take emergency steps to save the gold on this magnificent shrine. It involves the emotions of millions of people cutting across all religions. The temple itself is an international monument," said devotee Jagir Singh who had come to pay obeisance with wife Swaran Kaur.

Land for the shrine was donated by Mughal emperor Abkar to fourth Sikh Guru Ram Dass in the late 16th century. The shrine was completed during the time of the fifth Sikh Guru Arjun Dev.

In 1830, Punjab's king Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated 100 kg of gold for gold-plating the outer walls of the shrine. It was done on copper sheets. That's when it got its more popular name Golden Temple.

Some decades later, the upper part of the building was replaced by layers of gold leaf. In the mid-1990s, the renovation of the shrine started and the entire gold was replaced. A lot of the gold used was donated by devotees in the form of ornaments.

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