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From its founding in 1588, the Golden Temple has come to symbolise the epitome of Sikh architecture as well as the undying love of its devotees. The complex that developed around it was, as one eyewitness put it, the Sikhs' very own 'Vatican City'.In its heyday in the early 1800s, not only was it the finest example of the unique Sikh architectural style, it was also highly regarded as a centre of learning and a beacon for those in search of spiritual and educational enlightenment. Around it developed a bustling multicultural town that became a prominent stop on the Silk Route and a major commercial centre of north western India.This unique volume highlights the temple's unparalleled beauty and changing fortunes during a golden era of peace, prosperity and patronage. Its vast collection of paintings, sketches, lithographs and photographs have been painstakingly sourced from archives around the world. They are complemented by intriguing quotes from 70 eyewitness accounts, ranging from the earliest discovered in 1808 - a report by a one-legged British spy - right up to that of an awestruck Hollywood heartthrob, Lew Ayres, in search of the exotic and esoteric in 1959.