|The Akal Takht
ਅਕਾਲ ਤਖ਼ਤ ਸਾਹਿਬ
The Akal Takht
|Architectural style||Sikh architecture|
|Town or city||Amritsar|
The Akal Takht (Punjabi: ਅਕਾਲ ਤਖ਼ਤ) meaning throne of the timeless one  is one of five takhts (seats of power) of the Sikh religion. It is located in the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) complex in Amritsar, Punjab, about 250 miles (400 km) northwest of New Delhi. The Akal Takht was built by Guru Hargobind as a place of justice and consideration of temporal issues; the highest seat of earthly authority of the Khalsa (the collective body of the Sikhs) and the place of the jathedar, the highest spokesman of the Sikhs.
In the 18th century, Ahmed Shah Abdali and Massa Rangar led a series of attacks on the Akal Takht and Harmandir Sahib. Hari Singh Nalwa, a general of Ranjit Singh, the maharaja, decorated the Akhal Takht with gold. On 4 June 1984, the Akal Takht was damaged when the Indian Army stormed Sri Darbar Sahib during Operation Blue Star.
The Akal Takht was built on a site where there existed only a high mound of earth across a wide open space. It was a place where Hargobind played as a child. The original takht was a simple platform, 3.5 metres (11 ft) high, on which Hargobind would sit in court to receive petitions and administer justice. He was surrounded by insignia of royalty such as the parasol and the flywhisk. Later, there was an open-air semi-circular structure built on marble pillars and a gilded interior section. There were also painted wall panels depicting Europeans.
The modern building is a five storey structure with marble inlay and a gold-leafed dome. Three of the stories were added by Ranjit Singh in the 1700s. Contemporary restoration work found a layer of paint decorated lime plaster that might have been part of the original structure but later than the time of Harminder.
Operation Blue Star
On 6 June 1984, the Indian army made an assault on the Harminder Sahib in which the Akal Takht was damaged. The assault was ordered by Indira Gandhi who alleged Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had stored weapons inside the complex.
The Indian government began to rebuild the Akal Takht. Sikhs called the new structure the Sarkari Takht (the word sarkar in Hindi and Punjabi means "government") to indicate it had been built by the government and was not Akal (sacred). The Sikh home minister, Buta Singh, was excommunicated for his role in building the new Takht. He was accepted back into the community after a period of penitence (cleaning the devotees's utensils and shoes at the Golden Temple). In 1986, the Sikh nation called the 'Sarbat Khalsa' (Sikh commonwealth) in which it declared Khalistan as the homeland of the Sikhs and also moved to rebuild Sri Akal Takht Sahib that had been repaired by the Indian Government. Funds provided by the Sikh nation were used for its re-building.
In 1986, Sikhs at Amritsar decided to tear down the sarkari takht and build a new Akal Takht through the Sikh tradition of Kar Seva and self-service. In 1995, a new, larger Takht was completed. One group declared a new sovereign Sikh state called Khalistan.
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