Friday, 21 January 2011

The grand entrance to Harimandir Sahib announced

The experience of visiting the holiest Sikh shrine in the world is set to change for the better with the state government finalising a design consultant for the prestigious Golden Temple Entrance Plaza project.

Sri Harmandar Sahib attracts over 1 lakh visitors on week days alone and is the premier destination for NRIs, international tourists and pilgrims. Giving details of the final design to The Tribune here today, Amritsar Deputy Commissioner KS Pannu, said: “There are several points of high congregation around the shrine and the selected design will provide safe and convenient access to congregation spaces, ultramodern facilities and ensure smooth pedestrian movement.”

Elaborating on the amenities at the plaza, Pannu, who was part of the jury that evaluated design entries, said that apart from a spacious ‘jora ghar’, all amenities will be underground, including a state-of-the-art interpretation and information centre for tourists.

“Foreigners who visit the shrine have little or no idea about Sikh history and culture. The interpretation centre would sensitise them on the aspects of Sikhism through audio-visual media,” he said, adding that a bank, ATM, airport and railway inquiry will also be set up.

Since there is a lot of VVIP movement at the Golden Temple, the design provides for a separate lounge at the plaza to accommodate dignitaries and their entourage. An auditorium with a seating capacity of 100-150 persons would be built so that a visiting dignitary could address the media.

“At present, there is no designated place in the Golden Temple Complex for VIPs to interact with mediapersons,” said Pannu. Other facilities to be incorporated in the plaza are a multipurpose hall, security and services area, toilets and other public conveniences.

When asked whether the open space in front of the entrance will have marble flooring, Pannu said that the experts would have to be consulted for the flooring keeping in mind the harsh summer. “The idea is that devotees shouldn’t have to face any inconvenience while walking up to the shrine,” he said. “Tree species that offer a green canopy would be planted so that pilgrims could rest in the shadows during the harsh summer,” Pannu said.

Interestingly, the 1.75 acres of land over which the plaza would come up could also serve as an evacuation space in case of an emergency. “The plaza will complement the glory and grandeur of Sri Harmandar Sahib and be a befitting entrance to the internationally-acclaimed monument of faith,” Pannu said. The design of the plaza was finalised after an international design competition for which 21 entries were received. Design Associates Inc. Noida won the first prize of Rs 5 lakh followed by Design Cell, Gurgaon, and L&D Studio, New Delhi.

Perneet Singh/TNS, Amritsar, January 19

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