DES RAJ. BHAI, a Khatri Sikh of Amritsar, was entrusted with the supervision of the reconstruction of the Harimandar during the sixties and seventies of the eighteenth century. Nothing is known about his early life or family except that he originally came from Sursingh village, 30 km southwest of Amritsar, from where he migrated to the town and flourished in business, with a reputation for honesty and truthfulness. When the Sikhs sacked Sirhind in January 1764 and allocated several hundred thousands rupees from the plunder for the restoration of Sri Harimandar Sahib at Amritsar, demolished by Ahmad Shah Durrani two years earlier, they assigned Bhai Des Raj to undertake the reconstruction.

The money was deposited with some bankers of repute at Amritsar from whom Bhai Des Raj was authorized to withdraw amounts as and when needed. He was also given a seal, Guru ki mohar or the Guru`s seal by the Khalsa to raise more funds. The foundation of the holy sanctum was laid on 19 April 1764 byJassa Singh Ahluvalia, supreme commander of the Dal Khalsa. According to Giani Gian Singh, Twarikh Sn Amritsar, the construction of the Harimandar, the approach bridge, the Darshani Deorhi or gateway, and the clearance of the sacred tank filled by the debris in 1762 were completed by 1776.

After the sack ofKhurja, a rich markettown in the present Bulandshahar district of Uttar Pradesh, by the Dal Khalsa in February 1783, one tenth of the plunder, amounting to 1,00,000 rupees, was also placed at the disposal of Bhai Des Raj, who now started having the parikrama or the circumambulatory terrace paved. This work. including the platform around the Dukhbhanjani Beri and two large masonry screens for ladies` baths, was completed by 1784.

References :

1. Gian Singh, Giani, Twarikh Sri Amritsar [Reprint]. Amritsar, 1977
2. Fauja Singh, ed.. The City of Amritsar – An Introduction. Patiala, 1977
3. Madanjit Kaur, The Golden Temple : Past and Present. Amritsar, 1983
4. Arshi, P.S., Sikh Architecture in Punjab. Delhi, 1986 S.S. Am.