Fact-check: Real photo of India’s Golden Temple?

November 07, 2019

This image merges a photo of Thai sky lanterns with a photo of India's Golden Temple

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A photo has been shared in multiple Facebook and Twitter posts which claim it shows the Golden Temple in India’s Amritsar decorated with flying lanterns ahead of Diwali festival. The claim is false; the image has been created by merging two photographs -- one of sky lanterns from a Thai festival, and one of the Golden Temple.

The image was published in this Facebook post on October 25, 2019.

The misleading post’s caption states: “Absolute heaven...Golden temple Amritsar..no fireworks but lanterns in the sky reflected in the sarovar surrounding the gurudwara.. Amazing view… at Golden Temple, Amritsar.

"Golden Temple" refers to the Sikh shrine Sri Harmandir Sahib in the north Indian city of Amritsar in Punjab state.

"Sarovar" means "pond" and "Gurudwara" means "Sikh temple" in Hindi.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post:

The misleading post was also published here, here and here on Facebook and here, here, here and here on Twitter and here and here on Instagram alongside a similar claim.

The claim is false; the image was digitally created by merging two photographs.

A watermark navkaranbrar1 can be seen on the image.

Below is a screenshot of the image highlighting the watermark:

A user called Navkaran Brar, who describes himself on his profile as a visual artist, posted the image here on Twitter on October 20, 2017.

The tweet states: “#HappyDiwali2017 #goldentemple picart by me If you are going to post this then please give proper credit #amritsar (Copyright)."

Another tweet from the same account the following day states: “Overall work is by me, not by someone else & yes it’s editing & not real I’ve created art not made fool of anyone , thnx."

Brar also published the image multiple times on his Instagram account here.

Below is a screenshot of his Instagram page:

The first image was posted here on his Instagram page on October 19, 2017.

A reverse image search on Google found the two separate photographs used to create the misleading image had circulated online for years.

The image of the sky lanterns has circulated online for at least six years in reports on Thailand’s Loi Krathong festival, for example here in November 2013 and here in November 2014.

The image of the Golden Temple was posted online here in November 2012.

Below is a comparison showing the composite image (L) and the photo from the Thai festival (top right) and India’s Golden Temple (bottom right):

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