The Akal Takht is highest seat of temporal authority of the Khalsa. The Akal Takht is located in the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar, Punjab. It was built by Guru Hargobind Sahib, it stands witness to the Sikh idea of sovereignty. It symbolizes the interlocking of the temporal with the spiritual in Sikhism.
The Akal Takht was built a fraction lower than the Harimandir Sahib, implying the order of importance, that the search for spiritual grace was always to lead. A similar balancing of assertion and submission was built into Guru Hargobind’s daily routine, which alternatively highlighted the shrine, with its spiritual function and self-effacing architectural symbolism, and the throne platform, with its assertion of sovereignty and temporal authority. The Guru started the day with worship in the Harimandir; he would then go on a hunt in the late morning and grant audience from the Akal Takhat in the afternoon; in the evening he would return to the shrine for prayers and hymns, and at night he and his followers would return to the Akal Takht to listen to martial songs of heroic deeds.
It is from the Akal Takhat that Hukamnamas (edics or writs) are announced to provide guidance or clarification on any point of Sikhdoctrine or practice. It may lay under penance persons charged with violation of religious discipline or with activity prejudicial to Sikh interests or solidarity. It may place on record its appreciation of outstanding services rendered or sacrifices made by individuals espousing the cause of Sikhism or of the Sikhs. Importantly, no individual is above the Akal Takht.
On the original plot of land of the Akal Takhat, there only existed a high mound of earth across a wide open space, where Guru Hargobind as a child used to play. The Gurus original Takhat is said to have been a simple platform, 3.5 metres high, on which the Guru would sit like a king at court, surrounded by insignia of royalty such as the parasol and the flywhisk, and perform kingly tasks of receiving petitions and administrating justice. Today’s Akal Takhat is a large 5-storey modern structure (3 storeys were added by Maharaja Ranjit Singh) with inlaid marble and a gold-leafed dome, that does not convey the design of Guru Hargobind’s simple Takht or plinth. However, recent restoration work has uncovered a layer of lime plaster, with painted decoration, that may have been part of the original Takhat. That plinth was far higher than the plinth of the Harimandir; yet the absence of a superstructure kept the original Akal Takhat at a level lower than the shrine.