Takht Sri Patna Sahib

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Patna city has has the unique distinction of being h6noured by the holy presence of the Buddha, Guru Nanak and Guru Tegh Bahadur. Besides, it is also the birthplace of Sri Guru Gobind Singh.
He was born here on December 22, 1666. There stands, at the sacred place a magnificent holy shrine, called Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib. It is situated in one of the old quarters of Patna city, once known as Kucha Farrukh Khan, now known as Harmandir Gali. It is regarded as one of the holiest of five Takhts, the seat of the Sikh authority. Two of the five Takhts are located outside Punjab. These are Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib, Patna in Bihar, and Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra. Three Takhts are in Punjab. These are Akal Takht Amritsar, Keshgarh Sahib Anandpur and Sri Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo in Bhatinda district. Besides, there are over one hundred important holy Sikh shrines spread over the length and breadth of the country which are humming with the sacred message of the Sikh Gurus and reminding the people of their teachings. These are visited by thousands of pilgrims throughout the year.

In fact the new order Khalsa Panth was set up by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh with emphasis on unity and integration. He baptised PanjPyaras on Baisakhi day at Anandpur Sahib in 1699 and founded the Khalsa Panth. The Panj Piaras represented the different segments of society. Thus the tenth Guru created Khalsa Panth for the protection of the downtrodden and deprived sections of people.


The site where the present Harmandir stands was originally called the haveli of Salis Rai John, who was a great devotee of Guru Nanak. He was so much influenced by the teachings of the Guru that he converted his palatial house into a dharamsala. When Guru Tegh Bahadur visited Patna, he stayed in the same place. A magnificent house was built above the dharamsala of Salis Rai.Mullah Ahmed Bukhari,the author of Mirat-ul-Ahwal Jahan Nama, who stayed at Patna for some time at the close of 18th century, has made a reference to Harmandir. He writes, “Over the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikhs have raised a public edifice, made it a place of power and strength, and call it ‘Harmandir’. It is also called ‘Sangat’ and is held in great esteem and veneration. They have made it a place of pilgrimage. Maharaja Ranjit Singh started the work of reconstructing the Harmandir in 1839 following destruction by fire, but did not survive to see the new structure. Again in 1934, when the entire Bihar was rocked by an earthquake some portion of Harmandir fell down. Construction of the present building was taken up on November 19, 1954 and was completed in about three years.

Some relics of the tenth Guru are also preserved in this shrine. Among them is a pangura (cradle) with four stands covered with Golden plates. Guruji during his childhood used to sleep in this cradle. Moreover, four iron arrows, sacred sword of the Master and a pair of his sandals are also preserved. Hukamnamas of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Tegh Bahadur contained in a book are also kept in this holy Gurdwara.

Takht Sri Harimandir Sahib – the principal shrine at Patna Sahib and one of the five Takhts or the highest seats of religious authority for the Sikhs, marks the site of the Chhoti Sangat. Guru Tegh Bahadur had first alighted at Bari Sangat at Gae Ghat from where he was brought in a procession to this place which had once been the commodious mansion of Salas Rai, the jeweler, and where Raja Fateh Chand Maini now built a new house to accommodate the holy family. Guru Tegh Bahadur himself leaving his family here in the care of his brother-in-law Kirpal Chand and the local sangat proceeded on further to the east. Guru Gobind Singh was born here. He spent his early childhood here until his departure for Punjab in 1670. The house continued to be maintained as a holy place of worship. Its building was replaced by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during 1837-39 with a square flat-roofed hall surrounded by a covered passage for circumambulation. Rulers of Patiala, Jind and Faridkot jointly added several rooms and a gateway to the compound in 1887. An earthquake in 1934 seriously damaged the older building of the Takht Sahib. The present five-storey building was constructed during 1954-57 through kar-seva under the supervision of Sant Nischal Singh and Sant Kartar Singh. The sanctorum representing the room where Guru Gobind Singh was born has a circumambulatory passage around it. Adjacent to it is the spacious high-ceilinged congregation hall. The arch of the door of the inner sanctum opening on the congregation hall is covered with gilded copper plates embossed with floral design matching the marble sculpture on the interior walls. Of the three canopied seats facing the hall, the central one has Guru Granth Sahib seated on it. Guru Granth Sahib is placed on the seat on its right and the Dasam Granth on the one on the left, both attended by granthis holding whisks over them. The compound of the Takht Sahib also has several blocks of rooms for staff and visitors as well as for Guru ka Langar. The relics preserved here include a pair of wooden sandals, an old gown, several weapons and hukamnamas.

Takht Sri Damdama Sahib

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Takht Sri Damdama Sahib


Talwandi Sabo is also known as Guru Ki Kashi. Here the fifth Takht of the Sikhs is located. The other four Takhts are Akal Takht, Amritsar, Takht Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur, Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra) and Takht Harmandir Sahib Patna (Bihar)

Literally, Damdama means the breathing or resting place. Dam Dama Sahib is one of the Five Takhts of the Sikhs. It is located at village Talwandi Sabo, 28 km southeast of Bathinda. Guru Gobind Singh stayed here after fighting battles against Mughal atrocities. Before his arrival at Talwandi, two of the Guru’s sons were bricked alive at Sarhind and two laid down their lives at Chamkaur Sahib. After writing Zafarnama, Guru Gobind Singh fought a successful battle at Muktsar and then moved towards Talwandi Sabo Ki.

While at Talwandi, Sikhs started coming to the Guru from all over Punjab and other places. Here a Gurdwara was erected in Guru’s memory. This place is also known as Guru -Ki -Kanshi as it was made a center of the Sikh learning.

Damdame Wali Bir of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was prepared here by Guru Gobind Singh. It was transcribed by Bhai Mani Singh. The hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib were added into the Bir.

It was at Dam Dama Sahib that Bhai Dalla was tested for his bravery by Guru Gobind Singh and brought into the order of Khalsa. It was from Damdama Sahib that the Guru moved towards south. In the meantime, Aurangzeb died and the Guru helped Bahadur Shah, Aurangzeb’s eldest son to sit on the throne.

The Guru was honored by Bahadur Shah at Agra. The new Emperor also left for south but parted from the Guru at Nanded. It is said that Bahadur Shah did not fulfill his promise to punish the officials who had committed atrocities upon the Sikhs and killed Guru’s young children. The Guru commissioned Banda Bahadur to Go to Punjab and punish the guilty and bring peace to the state.

This Takht was officially recognized as the fifth Takht on Novemver 18, 1966. On demand from the Sikhs, a sub-committee was appointed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Amritsar vide General Meeting Resolution No: 789 on July 30, 1960. A report of the sub-committee containing 183 pages was received to declare Damdama Sahib, Guru Ki Kashi as the fifth Takht of the Sikhs. A general body meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Amritsar approved the recommendations through resolution number 32 on November 18, 1966.

It has been declared as fifth Takht by the government of India in April 1999 during tercentennial celebrations of the advent of Khalsa.

Guru Gobind Singh arrived here on 20-21 January, 1706 and camped outside the village. The magnificent Gurudwara Sri Damdama Sahib marks the place of his stav. Here local Chaudhari Bhai Dalla looked after Guruji with great devotion. He refused to arrest the Guru as directed by Wazir Khan, Nawab of Sirhind.

Mata Sundri and Mata Sahib Kaur escorted by Bhai Mani Singh came here from Delhi to meet Guruji. Guruji spent nine months of intense literary activities



Here Bhai Mani Singh prepared the holy volume under the guidance of Guruji. Talwandi thus became a seat of learning and assumed the status of Guru Ki Kashi. It was here that Chaudhari Tiloka and Rama, ancestors of the Pulkian (Patiala, Nabha and Jind) rulers received Amni from the blessed hands of the Guru. Sacred articles of the tenth Guru, namely Sri Sahib (Sword), a mirror, a match lock, a portrait of the tenth Guru, a pothi. (book) transcribed by Baba Deep Singh, Sword of Baba Deep Singh and a Persian sword are displayed in the Gurudwara Damdama Sahib. The other sacred place at Talwandi Sabo are, Jand Sahib, Tibbi Sahib, Likhansar and Gurusar.

Besides, there are two Gurdwaras in memory of the ninth Guru Sri Tegh Bahadur, known as Wada Darbar Sahib and Gurusar.

Guru Gobind Singh had come to Talwandi Sabo at the request of Bhai Dala, a devoted follower. He was the Chief of Brar jats of Ma!wa area. He liked the place immensely and stayed here for over nine months. During his stay, the place was transformed into abode of the Khalsa and became a second Anandpur.

At Damdama Sahib as it is now called, the Guru preached complete sacrifice of personal and family interests at the altar of the good of mankind. The following. words of the great Guru expressing his firm faith in the Khalsa, are inscribed on a pillar installed by the Punjab Government,

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib

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 Takht Sri Hazur Sahib


Nanded (pronounced Nander), formerly in Hyderabad State is now a district town in Maharashtra. It is a railway station on the Manmad-Secunderabad section of South Central Railway. One of the five Sikh Takhts is located here and the Sikhs reverently refer to it as Hazur Sahib. Nanded is associated with the first and the last of the Sikh Gurus. While Guru Nanak Dev passed through it during his extensive travels which took him as far south as Sri Lanka, Guru Gobind Singh spent the last few days of his earthly life here. He arrived here with emperor Bahadur Shah towards the end of August 1708, and, while the latter went on to Golconda after a few days rest, the Guru decided to stay on here. It appears that he had followed the emperor through Rajasthan to Deccan in the hope that justice would be meted out to his persecutors and murderers of his young sons and numerous Sikhs, as perhaps promised by the emperor at Agra. But finding that for over one year the emperor had been avoiding the issue and had shown no inclination to punish the culprits, the Guru was disappointed and decided to part company with him. Here he found a man of destiny and promise in a Bairagi Sadhu whom he baptized with Khande di Pahul (renaming him Banda Singh) and commissioned to go north, marshal the Sikhs in Punjab and dispense justice as deserved by the perpetrators of crime in the past, the faujdar of Sirhind, Wazir Khan being the most deserving among them. Meanwhile, Wazir Khan had not been sitting idle or complacent. Aware of the rapport established between the Guru and the new emperor, he realized the possibility of harm to himself through royal action or retribution. He, therefore, hired two assassins to pursue the Guru and eliminate him at the first opportunity that offered itself to them. They got their chance there at Nanded when one of them stabbed the Guru, and although both of them were themselves killed on the spot, the Guru, too, did not survive the wound. He breathed his last there but not until he had formally passed on the spiritual light of Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib, the Shabad-Guru of the Sikhs for ever thereafter. All historical Gurdwaras at and near Nanded, except one dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev, are associated with the activities of Guru Gobind Singh during the forty odd days of his stay here. All the Gurdwaras are connected by road to the central shrine, the Takht Sahib and the management arranges hired-transport to take pilgrims around to them.

“The Eternal Father willed and I raised the Panth. All my Sikhs are hereby ordered to accept the Granth as their Preceptor. Have faith in the holy Granth, as your master and consider it the visible manifestation of the Gurus. He who hath a pure heart will seek guidance from its holy words.”



These are the words uttered by the the tenth Guru Sri Gobind Singh, before his death on October 7, 1708 at Nanded in Maharashtra. At the site where the Guru breathed his last, was built a Gurdwara between 1832 and 1837, under instructions from Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It is called “Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchal Nagar Sahib”. It is a two-storey building. The architectural design resembles that of the Golden Temple. It’s’ interior is artistically ornamented in the style of Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar. The walls of the inner room called Angitha Sahib have been covered with golden plates On the first floor, recitations from Sri Guru Granth Sahib, go on day and night. The dome is polished and on the pinnacle is the kalash made of gold plated copper.

Some of the sacred relics of Guru Gobind Singh are also preserved here. These are, a golden dagger, a matchlock gun, an archer with 35 arrows, two bows, a steel shield studded with precious stones and five golden swords.

Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib is the principal shrine at Nanded. It marks the site where the Guru had his camp in 1708 A.D. after the departure of the emperor Bahadur Shah. The tenth Guru held his court and congregation here. It is the site of his own tent where he was convalescing after he was attacked by assasins. It is the place from where the tenth Guru rose to heaven alongwith his horse Dilbag.

In 1708 being prescient of the end of his earthly role, the Guru had despatched Banda Singh with five of his Sikhs to Punjab and Mata Sahib Devan under a separate escort to Delhi before the stabbing incident. He told the rest of his retinue to retire to their homes if they so wished, but he bade one Bhai Santokh Singh to stay on here and keep Guru ka langar going. many others also chose to remain. Together they built a room over the platform where the used to sit while holding his court and installed Guru Granth Sahib on it. They called it Takhat Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh, while conferring Guruship on the holy Book, had himself named Nanded as Abchalnagar (lit. steadfast city) after the first word of a hymn read at random on the occasion. Sachkhand (lit. region of Truth) had been used by Guru Nanak Dev to mean the abode of God. The present building of the Takhat Sahib was got constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh with money, artisans and labour sent from Punjab during early 1830s. Around the same time the Nizam of Hyderabad raised a contingent of Northern Sikhs as part of his army. Most of these men settled permanently in Hyderabad State. Many militant and righteous Hindus embraced Sikhism in the 18th century. The control of Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib, which had formerly passed into the hands of Udasi priests was regained by the Sikhs under the influence of the Singh Sabha Movement of the late nineteenth century. Some of the rituals and ceremonies connected with working are peculiar to this Takhat Sahib. In 1956 an Act was passed by the legislature of Hyderabad under which the management of Takhat Sahib and other histoorial Gurudwaras was legally placed under a 17 member Gurudwaras Board and a five member Managing Committee.

The building complex of the Takhat Sahib about half a Kilometer from the left bank of the river Godavari is spread over several hectares. Besides the Takhat Sahib proper it also includes two other shrines, Bunga Mai Bhago ji comprising a large room where Guru Granth Sahib is seated and some historical weapons are at display, and Angitha (lit.place of cremation) Bhai Daya Singh and Dharam Singh. These two survivors of the battle of Chamkaur, who were among the Panj Piare (Five beloved Ones who had offered their heads at the Guru’s call when the Khalsa was created in Kesgarh Fort of Anandpur Sahib on the Baisakhi Day of 1699), had accompanied the Guru to Nanded and had died here subsequently. The complex also has a 300 room rest house for pilgrims, Guru ka langar, and office blocks of the Gurudwara Board besides a press and publishing house and a school for scripture-reading and kirtan.

The two-storey building of the Takhat Sahib proper standing on a high base has a small sqare room on the second floor bearing the gilded ribbed dome topped with a tall gilded pinnacle and umbrella shaped finial. There are some rooms in the basement too, so that the edifice is technically four-storeyed. Corners of the roof of the first floor are decorated with domed kiosks on octagonal pedestals. Other embellishments on the exterior included oriel windows and a wide coping on the sides and a fancy fencing on the roof top. Inside, the sanctum has marble lining decorated with inset work in floral patterns on lower parts of the walls and stucco and tukari work on the upper parts as well as on the ceiling. The sanctum is not occupied by Guru Granth Sahib during the day as is normally the case in all Gurudwaras. Here some old weapons and other relics are placed on a marbled platform. This include steel quoits, a broad sword, a steel bow and an arrow, a gilded dagger-sized sword, a few swords and a mace. Guru Granth Sahib is seated in the room in front of the sanctum from early morning to late evening and is placed in the sanctum only during the night.

This historical shrine is situated on the bank of the Godavari river and is visited by thousands of devotees throughout the year from all over India and abroad. It is one of the five Takhts (thrones) of the Sikhs and is much venerated by them. Here took place in the first week of September, 1708, the conversion to Sikhism of a Bairagi Sadhu Madho Dass, who under a new name of Banda Singh Bahadur, gave a sharp turn to the history of the Sikhs. It was this great hero who in the next seven years (1709-1715) shook the Mughal empire in the north-west to its very foundation and paved the way for the liberation of the Punjab in 1764-65.

Besides Gurdwara Sachkhand Sahib, other Gurdwaras at Nanded are Sangat Sahib, Shikar Ghat, Nagina Ghat and Hira Ghat. These too were built in memory of visit of Sri Guru Gobind Singh to this place.

The inside central room is called Angitha Sahib where Guru Gobind Singh was cremated. This Gurdwara is one of the five Takhts (Seats of Authority) of the Sikh faith. Guru Gobind Singh ended the physical Guruship before his departure from this world and passed on the permanent Guruship to Sri Guru Granth Sahib on October 6 , 1708. He declared that the temporal functions of the Guru will be performed by the Five Beloveds. The spiritual guidance will be given by Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

“Whosoever wishes to find (Behold) God, let him search Him in Sri Guru Granth SahibWhere ever five Sikhs are assembled together, there will I be present”.
“Agya Bhaiee Akal Ki,” the Last sermon of Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Gobind Singh did not appoint any human successor in line of human Guruship as per tradition. The Guru declared Granth Sahib to be the ultimate preceptor and the Guru-Eternal for the Sikhs. He conferred Guruship on Granth Sahib at Abchal Nagar Nanded by circumambulating five times and bowing his head before it. He declared that after him, the living Guru would be embodied in the Sabad (Word) as contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib by uttering the sermon:

First part of the Dohra
The first part of the Dohra is Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Pavitar Bachan (Holy Saying) recorded in BHAI PRAHLAAD SINGH’s Rehitnama. This was written at the time when Guru Ji said this bachan by Bhatt Vehi who was one of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s poets at Hazoor Sahib. Giani Gian Singh later found it and copied it ino his literature’s “Twarikh Guru Khalsa” and “Panth Parkash”:

Agya Bhai Akal Ki Tabe Chalyo Panth
As was ordained by the Timeless, thus was established the Panth.
Sabh Sikhan Ko Hukam Hai Guru Manyo Granth
To all Sikhs, let this be the order, recognize the Granth as your Guru.
Guru Granth Ji Manyo Prakat Guran Ki Deh
The reverend Guru Granth is the visible body of the gurus
Jo Prabh Ko Milbo Chahe Khoj Sabad Mein Leh
Those that seek to meet with Vaaheguru, delve into the Shabad

Second part of the Dohra
The second part of the Dohra is Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s Pavitar Bachan (Holy Saying) recorded in Bhai Nand Lal’s Tankhahnama.

“The Sikh people shall remain free and sovereign, always, non-challenging this position. For, all shall realize, after bitter frustration, that there is no redemption except in the way of the life that the Khalsa upholds!”
Third part of the Dohra

The last part of Dohra:
“Raj Karega Khalsa, Aki Rahe Na Koe.
Khuar Hue Sabh Milenge,
Bache Saran Jo Hoe” is also recorded at the end of Bhai Nand Lal Singh’s Rehitnama.

Hukam (Divine order by random reading) from Sri Guru Granth Sahib was taken at that time which reads, “Abchal Nagar Gobind Guru ka , nam japat sukh paiya Ram” (783). So this place was named Abchal Nagar (Unshakable place) at that time. Maharaja Ranjit Singh decorated the Gurdwara with marble and gold plating during his regime.

It was from here that Banda Bahadur was sent to Punjab to fight for righteous cause. It is a repository of Weapons of Guru Gobind Singh which are exhibited for Darshan of the visitors.

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

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St. No. 12, Near Dhillon Hospital
Ajit Road, Bathinda (Punjab) – INDIA
Contact Person: Manjit Singh
Phone: +91 94635 95040

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Contact Person: Gurmeet Singh
Phone: +91 94174 13003

e-mail: ferozpuriaturban@gmail.com

Skype: manjeetsingh23



The zone which is now known an Anandpur Sahib includes Chakk Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib and some adjacent villages.

It is generally believed that the Anandpur town was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib on June 19,1665. In fact it was Chakk Nanaki which had been founded in 1665. The foundation stone of Anandpur Sahib was laid on March 30,1689. The area of Chakk Nanaki (in 1665) extended between the village of Agamgarh and the square between Kesgarh Sahib and the town’s bus stand.

Usually, new towns are founded, established and developed by monarchs. It is a unique phenomenon in the history of Sikh religion that its Prophets founded a number of towns and turned several villages into major towns. Hence, social, political, economic and spiritual role became one in Guru Sahib.

The first town associated with the Sikh history is Nanakana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak Sahib. But, the first town founded by Guru Nanak Sahib was Kartarpur (Pakistan). Even Sultanpur Lodhi had the privilege of having felt of the touch of the feet of Guru Nanak Sahib. Guru Angad Sahib turned the small village of Khadur into Khadur Sahib. Guru Amar Das Sahib founded the town of Goindwal. He also asked Guru Ram Das Sahib to establish a new Sikh State in the middle of Majha zone. Guru Ram Das Sahib laid the foundation of Guru Da Chakk which, later, came to be known as Ram Das Pur and now it is famous as Amritsar. Guru Arjan Sahib developed Guru Da Chakk into a major city and also founded the towns of Tarn Taran, Chheharta, Hargobindpur and Kartarpur (Jullundur). Guru Hargobind Sahib revealed Akal Takht Sahib. He purchased the territory of the present town of Keeratpur Sahib {Keeratpur Sahib was founded and established by Baba Gurditta, son of Guru Hargobind Sahib}. Guru Har Rai Sahib played major role in the development of Keeratpur Sahib and turned it into another major center of the Sikhs. By the time of Guru Harkrishan Sahib, Keeratpur Sahib had became a full-fledged town. His visit to a small village Panjokhara put the village on the world map and his visit to Raja Jai Sinh’s residence turned it into “Bangla Sahib”.



Chakk Nanaki had been founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. Earlier he used to live at Bakala and had spent more than seven years (1656-64) in Assam, Bengal and Bihar. He had spent some time at Talwandi Sabo and Dhamtan too. In the middle of April 1665, he made a visit to Keeratpur Sahib. When he was still at Keeratpur, on April 27,1665, Raja Deep Chand, the ruler of Bilaspur, died. The Bilaspur ruler was a very devoted Sikh. On May 10,1665, Guru Sahib went to Bilaspur to make last prayers for Raja Deep Chand. Guru Sahib stayed there till May 13. By this time Rani Champa had come to know that Guru Sahib had decided to move his headquarters to Dhamtan. This made Rani Champa despondent. She approached Mata Nanaki (Guru Sahib’s mother) and begged her to ask Guru Sahib not to move far away from Bilaspur State. Mata Nanaki could not resist helping a sentimental Rani Champa. Mataji requested Guru Sahib to fulfil Rani’s desire. When Guru Sahib agreed, Rani Champa offered to donate some land to Guru Sahib so that he might established a new town. Guru Sahib decided to set up new town but refused to accept a donation of the land. He selected a piece of land in between the villages of Lodipur, Mianpur and Sahota and paid regular price for the same. Rani Champa hesitatingly accepted the price of the land but her joy new no bounds at the thought that Guruji had chosen to establish his headquarters near Bilaspur State.

The site chosen by Guru Sahib, around the ruins of the erstwhile village of Makhowal, was very remarkable from strategic point of view. It was surrounded by river Satlej on one side as well as hills and forest on all the sides. This was a peaceful zone for meditation as well as for arts and intellectual activities. It was also safe from military interference and disturbances. The Sikhs had experienced Mughal invasion at Amritsar and Kartarpur in 1634 and 1635. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib too had participated in these battles. Though Keeratpur Sahib had remained safe from the Mughal attacks, yet a possibility always existed because Aurangzeb was sitting on the Delhi throne and he was known for his fanaticism.

Thus, the sight selected for new town had a special importance. In 1665, the river Satlej used to flow through the present city of Anandpur Sahib (now it flows near Keeratpur Sahib). Keeratpur Sahib too was a strategic place. It was surrounded by Satlej on one side, river Sarsa on the other side and a chain of hills on the third side. Similarly, the site of Chakk Nanaki too was still better choice. It had the protection of Charn Ganga stream on two sides and river Satlej on the third. Towards the hills-side there were thick bushes and trees. Long long ago, it was dense forest and herds of elephants and other animals used to inhabit these jungles. Then, this area was known as Hathaut (literally: abode of elephants)

The area or Chakk Nanaki was a peaceful zone. Besides, it was a fertile land and could yield two crops annually. Hence, it was capable of being a self-sufficient City-State. Guru Sahib’s selection of the land was highly appreciated by Rani Champa and the Sikhs. The Bilaspur elite was exceptionally happy because the presence of a Sikh City-State on the borders of Bilaspur State and the Mughal territory meant complete safety for Bilaspur and its associate States.

The foundation stone of the new town was laid down by Bhai Gurditta (great-grandson of Baba Buddha), on June 19,1665 at the present site of Guru De Mahal. The first prayers were made by Diwan Dargah Mall. Guru Sahib named the new town Chakk Nanaki after his mother Mata Nanaki. Guru Sahib spent the next three months at Chakk Nanaki. During this period a couple of house had been built for the visitors to the Sikh City.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib could not visit Chakk Nanaki for the next six and a half years. He took a missionary journey of Assam, Bengal and Bihar from January 1666 to March 1670. After this, he spent about one and a half year at Bakala (now Baba Bakala). In March 1672 Guru Sahib and his family moved to Chakk Nanaki and finally established it as his headquarters. Guru Sahib embraced martyrdom on November 11,1675.

Guru Gobind Singh Sahib stayed here till March 1685. In April 1685 Guru Gobind Singh Sahib founded Paonta Sahib and stayed there till October 1688. He returned to Chakk Nanaki in November 1688. On March 30,1689 Guru Sahib laid the foundation of a new town and named it Aanandpur Sahib. Now Chakk Nanaki and Anandpur Sahib both as well as some adjoining villages (Sahota, Lodipur, Agampur, Mataur etc) form the present city of Anandpur Sahib.

Chakk Nanaki was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib was established by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. The boundaries of Chakk Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib, Sahota, Lodipur, Mataur, Agampur etc. are not known to a common man. Only revenue officers (Patwari and Lambardar) know about the actual boundary-lines. In government papers Chakk Nanaki is known as “Chakk” only.

The square between the present bus stand and Gurdwara Kesgarh Sahib is the meeting point of Chakk Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib and Lodipur. Gurdwara Guru De Mahal (Bhora Sahib, Damdama Takht Sahib and Manji Sahib) are in the territory of Chakk Nanaki. It was the residence of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. Gurdwara Sis Ganj is on the border of Chakk Nanaki and Anandpur Sahib. The Bus Stand, Hospital and the Girls School are in Chakk Nanaki. A part of the saw-mill near Gurdwara Holgarh Sahib is in the territory of Chakk Nanaki and its boundary wall is within the boundary of Sahota village. The Milk Bar (near the squares) and the Sarover (tank) are in Lodipur village. The garden adjacent to the police post is a part of Chakk Nanaki. Khalsa High School is in the territory of villages Sahota. Quilla Anandgarh Sahib Gurdwara Shahidi Bagh (under the management of one group of Nihangs) are situated in the village of Lodipur. The area around Kesgarh Sahib is a part of Anandpur Sahib. Khalsa College has been built in the territory of village Mataur. The bridge over Charan Ganga is a part of Chakk Nanaki. Now all these areas form the present city of Anandpur Sahib.

The Anandpur zone has undergone several major changes in the past 334 years (1665 to 1999). The river Satluj, which used to flow near Anandgarh fort, has changed its course and now it flows about seven km away (near Keeratpur Sahib). “Himaiti” stream, which used to protect Anandpur Sahib from Mughal invasions, has disappeared. Several other rainy streams too have disappeared. A bridge has been built on Charan Ganga rivulet. The hill on which a tent was put up (Tambu Wali Pahari) on the day of revelation of Khalsa does not exist any more. Even the hill on which Kesgarh Sahib shrine has been built is, now, at least ten feet (more than three meters) lesser in height than it was in 1698. A road has been built to link Kesgarh Sahib and Anandgarh Sahib. A very large number of new buildings too have been constructed in and around Anandpur Sahib. Today’s Anandpur is a lot different from Anandpur Sahib of the eighteenth century. However, almost all the shrines of the zone have been built at actual sites.

Today, Anandpur Sahib is a tehsil. Its 240 villages include Chakk Nanaki, Agampur, Sahota, Lodipur, Mianpur, Mataur (Anandpur Sahib zone), Keeratpur Sahib, Jauwal, Kalyanpur Bhaguwal (Keeratpur zone), Jindbari, Khera-Kalmot, Nangal (Nangal zone), Kahanpur Khuhi, Nurpur Bedi (Nurpur Bedi zone) Bajrur, Basali, Chanauli (Takhtgarh zone) etc. “Guru Ka Lahore” and Gurdwara Taragarh are a part of Bilaspur district (Himanchal Pradesh). Though most of the places associated with the history of Anandpur Sahib are in the territories of Anandpur Sahib and Keeratpur Sahib zones but Kalmot, Basali, Bajrpur, Bibhaur, Bassi Kalan, Bhattha Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Machhiwara (as well as Machhiwara to Talwandi Sabo) are situated in other zones. Similarly, Gurdwaras at Gurpalah, Bilaspur, Nahan, Paonta Sahib, Bhangani, Nadaun, Rivalsar etc are in Himanchal Pradesh. No Gurdwara has, so far, been built at Ajner, Malakpur and some other places associated with Guru Gobind Singh Sahib’s stay at Anandpur Sahib and his journey from Machhiwara to Dina Kangar.

Anandpur Sahib had a population of a few hundreds at the time of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib but hundreds of Sikhs used to visit Anandpur Sahib to make obeisance to Guru Sahib. In the month of March more than twenty thousand Sikhs used to attend the annual Sikh gathering at Anandpur Sahib. On the night of December 5 and 6,1675 when Guru Gobind Singh Sahib finally left Anandpur Sahib, only one person, Bhai Gurbakhsh Das, was left in the town. After a few years the families of Gulab Singh and Sham Singh (great-grandsons of Guru Hargobind Sahib) moved to Anandpur and began living there



With the passage of time Anandpur Sahib again became a prominent Sikh center. At the time of Akali Phula Singh, in the first decade of the nineteenth century, the family of Bhai Surjan Singh Sodhi (a descendant of Guru Hargobind Singh) used to live there. At that time the population of Anandpur Sahib was less than three thousand. In 1868, when the first regular census was held, the population of Anandpur Sahib was 6869. In the first half of the twentieth century its population remained less than seven thousand. During this period an epidemic spread through the town and the adjoining villages, resulting into exodus of most of the population. After 1947, a few Sikh families, which had been uprooted from the west Punjab (Pakistan), moved to Anandpur Sahib. After a couple of years the Bhakhra-Nangal-Ganguwal projects added population of several hundred persons to the town. Today, in 1999, the population of the municipal area of Anandpur Sahib is around 13000 and there is no possibility of any extra-ordinary increase in spite of launching of several new projects in connection with celebrations of the tercentenary of Khalsa.

The new projects launched at Anandpur Sahib in 1998-99 are likely to give a new look to the town, but, the city, which used to be Anandpur Sahib of the period of Guru Sahib will not remain the same.

Thousand years ago, the Anandpur zone, from Keeratpur Sahib to Nangal, which was known as “Hathaut” (literally: abode of elephants), was a dense forest with thick growth of trees and bushes. This jungle-valley was surrounded by several hill belts, river Satluj, Charan Ganga and other rivulets. It was a home for elephants, lions, bears, wolves and other beasts. This area, about 50 km in length and 10-12 km in width, did not have any human population. By fifteenth century most of the beasts had either been killed or had moved to the upper hills, but, still, people were afraid of visiting this area. It was only in June 1665 when Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib founded the town of Chakk Nanaki that people began visiting this area. Guru Sahib turned this haunting forest into a fine place. The area where people did not dare to enter even during daytime became a great centre of spiritualism, learning and arts. Before 1665 the zone of Anandpur Sahib had no mention in history. According to a local myth a giant named Makho used to live here. At that time this place was known as Makhowal. According to another tradition two brothers named Makho and Mato were the chiefs of this area. They founded the villages of Makhowal and Mataur. Both were cruel chiefs. As a result, residents of these areas began moving to far-off places and finally both the village were deserted. But, there is no historical evidence to prove these ‘stories’. In 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib laid the foundation of Chakk Nanaki at the top of the mound known as ruins of Makhowal.

Today, three villages of Hathaut i.e. Chakk Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib and Keeratpur Sahib, have special mention in the history of the world. It is because Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Sahib had stayed there. From Anandpur Sahib to a Bhattha Sahib (near Ropar), the scene of furling Khalsa flags, throughout the zone, tell the story of the State of Guru Sahib. Several hundred Sikhs laid their lives in this area. The whole of the zone has been immortalized by Guru Sahib, their families and the Sikh martyrs. It is known as Guruji’s Land. And, the Bilaspur State, which compelled Guru Sahib to abandon Anandpur Sahib, exists no more. Its capital Bilaspur, too, lies fifty feet (more than fifteen metres) deep under the waters of the lake named after Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. The family which wanted to expel the Sikhs from the zone does not exist any more. The family, the State, the capital have ceased to be even a political entity.

Anandpur Sahib “City of Bliss’; is one of the most holy places of the Sikhs. it is closely linked with their religious traditions and history. Situated 45km from Ropar on the left bank of the river Sutlej, Anandpur Sahib has a number of historical Gurdwaras. The town gained further importance with the construction of Nangal and Bhakra projects nearby, 20 km to the north. These projects have brought Anandpur Sahib on the rail and road map of India. It is located at a distance of 80 km from Chandigarh – the city of dreams.

oday, Anandpur is one of the five most important religious places of the Sikhs. This is the birth place of the Sikh faith. Here Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa Panth on Baisakhi day in 1699. The Takht Keshgarh Sahib stands at the place where the tenth Master baptized the ‘Panj Pyaras’, the five beloved ones, and administered Amrit to them.

Besides, there are a number of other Gurdwaras associated with Sikh history. Gurudwara Guru Ka Mahal was built by Guru Tegh Bahadur for his residence and it was here that sons of Guru G6bjnd Singh were born. Gurudwara Sisgani commemorates the spot ~where the head of ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur was cremated when it was brought to Anandpur Sahib by Bhai Jaita from Delhi, after his martyrdom in Chandni Chowk in 1675.

Besides, Gurdwaras Keshgarh, Anandgarh, Lohgarh and Fatehgarh mark the spots where once stood four fortresses built by Guru Gobind Singh who fought many pitched battles against Mughal and Rajput forces.

Every year on the day following Holi, Hola Mohalla festival is celebrated at Anandpur Sahib. On this day Anandpur Sahib relives the martial splendor of the Khalsa under their great Guru. About two lakh pilgrims from all over India and abroad participate in the festival with abundance gay. For visitors, accommodation is no problem at Anandpur Sahib. Five well furnished tourist huts, each with a double bedroom have been set up by Tourist Department of Punjab Government. Nearby at Nangal the Punjab Tourist Department has a 70 bed tourist bungalow where accommodation is available at a nominal rate. The field hostels of Bhakra Nangal Management Board also offer accommodation. Pilgrims mostly come by rail and roa4 to this historic place, but sophisticated pilgrims and tourists come by air from all over India and abroad. For them nearest airport is Chandigarh from where they can travel by buses.

For pilgrims and tourists, a visit to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Museum is a must. It was set up in the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur who made the supreme sacrifice for sake of liberation of the oppressed and for the freedom of conscience and belief. The great saga of Sikh history of this period is full of struggle and sacrifices which are depicted here through the medium of paintings prepared by eminent artists. These paintings are primarily in realistic style covering the most turbulent significant and epoch-making period of the Sikh history.



Gurudwara Sri Akal Takht Sahib ( Golden Temple Darbar Sahib Amritsar )

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Akal Takht Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar

Adjacent to the Golden Temple, is the marble paved square facing the Darshni Deorhi. On the opposite side of the marble square stands the Akal Takht, which is regarded as the supreme seat of Sikh religious authority. It was constructed by the sixth Guru Sri Hargobind in 1609. It is also called as Akal Bunga, the house of the Lord. The place is repository of the various weapons used by Sikh Gurus and heroes. These weapons are ceremoniously displayed every. evening to the congregation of devotees. The Akal Takht being the holiest of holy seats of the Sikhs, was used for a special purpose which considerably changed the Sikh character and organization. The sixth Guru himself sat here and held a court of justice. Many Sikhs gathered here for the redressal of their grievances. Offerings were made to the Guru.

At the place where Akal Takht is situated was a playground, and the Guru used to play here during his childhood. Here he was ceremoniously installed as the Guru in 1606 after the death of his father Guru Arjun Dev. The sixth Guru Hargobind watched the Sikhs performing exercises in the art of warfare. He was imparting them training for the coming struggle against the Mughal authoritarianism.

The Akal Takht is a massive five story building standing on a marble paved platform. The ground floor was ready in 1774 and four stores were added later by Maharaja Ran] it Singh. The Golden dome was constructed by famous Sikh General Han Singh Nalwa.

The Hukamnama issued by Jathedar of Akal Takht is binding on all Sikhs. Even Maharaja Ranjit Singh had to bow before the orders of the Jathedar of the Akal Takht. During the Misal period after the death of Guru Gobind Singh and before the rise of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Gurmata used to be passed by Sarbat Khalsa at Akal Takht for the protection of the country from the invaders. During British period, volunteers took vow of non-violence at Akal Takht before participating in the mochas launched by the Sikhs for the improvement of management of their holy shrines. A Saropa (robe of honor) conferred at Akal Takht is a distinction of a high order. It is given for extraordinary service rendered to the Sikh community.

Guru Hargobind, the only son of Guru Arjun Dev, was born in 1595. His path was beset with difficulties and hazards from the very outset. At the age of eleven his father was martyred on the altar of deep religious bigotry of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and his most fanatic advisers. Guru Arjun had not done or said anything either against the Government or against Islam. In continuation of the development projects of Sikhism by his predecessors, Guru Arjun had chalked out wide programmes for the progress of Guru Nanak’s religion and the Sikh community. But the steps taken were not at all with a view to humbling any other religion or community. The excavations of the tanks of Amritsar and Santokhsar were completed to provide the much-wanted places of pilgrimage for the Sikhs. By founding Tarn Taran in the heart of the Majha and Kartarpur in the Doaba, the Guru only wanted to provide the people with some rallying centres for religious purposes in their respective areas. The Masand system was organised and placed on a strong footing to finance the various projects undertaken by the Guru. Guru Arjun encouraged the Sikhs to foster trade and industry and adopt lucrative professions to be economically well-off. The compilation of the Adi Granth was undertaken to meet the long-standing need of the Sikh community for the Holy Scriptures. All these measures gave a fillip to the Sikh movement in the Punjab. The non-Sikhs were not seeing all this with a kindly eye.

The opposition of the detractors of the Guru ultimately led to Guru Arjun’s martyrdom in 1606. And in the words of Mohammad Latif: The death of Guru Arjun was a great turning point in the history of the Sikh nation, for it inflamed the religious passions of the Sikhs and it was at this time that those seeds of hatred of the Musalman power were sown which took such deep root in the minds of all the faithful followers ofNanak. With this execution the whole Sikh community was stunned. It aroused very serious resentment in the minds of the Sikhs but they were yet not in a position to register their protest by raising arms against the Government.

Sikhism was a socio-religious movement aiming at peaceful emancipation of the people from invidious distinctions and prejudices. It wanted to divert them to the path of godliness, honest living and goodwill towards all. The Sikhs did not interfere with the current politics of the country. They were law-abiding citizens without any means to protect themselves against the mighty Mughal empire. The only alternative now left to the new Guru and his followers, if the church of Guru Nanak was to be kept alive, was to so mould their outlook as to give due attention to the development of their physical strength along with spiritual attainments. Thus, he planned to transform his people into new warrior-type saints capable of defending themselves against aggression without being aggressive themselves. The followers of the Guru would not accept things lying down.

The Jats of Majha who formed the bulk of the Guru’s followers were characteristically so disposed as not to choose to bow before aggression. Rather they would face the tyrant manfully.

akal Takht Sahib Amristar

Guru Hargobind’s followers told him clearly as to what action they would propose in the event of the repetition of such a situation as had resulted in the martyrdom of their beloved spiritual leader. According to Macauliffe, a little before his death, Guru Arjan sent a message to his son through his followers, saying Let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his ability. This message seems to be a later concoction as it does not agree with the tenor of Guru Arjun’s life. He is known to history and tradition to be an apostle of peace and a staunch and unstinted follower of non-violence. Under no circumstances he could change his faith in the peaceful demeanour. And also Guru Arjun would not recommend such a hazardous course to his young son of eleven. There can be no doubt about the fact that the decision to arm the community was taken by Guru Hargobind and his followers collectively after Guru Arjun Dcv had been martyred. This decision sowed the seeds of a revolution which transformed the character of the Sikhs from mere saints to saint soldiers. Guru Hargobind gave a martial trend to his followers who besides keeping rosary buckled on the sword in order to defend their faith and their persons.

Since Guru Hargobind took over the office of the Guru under the shadow of a changed situation, he was obliged to bring about a change in the ceremony of the installation of the Guru. Guru ifargobind told Bhai Budha that the Seli a woollen cord worn as a necklace or twisted round the head by the former Gurus was not to be used in future and his Seli would be the sword-belt, and he would wear his turban with an emblem of royalty. The young Guru took the seat of his father with two swords girded round his waist, one to symbolise temporal power and the other, spiritual power i.e., Miri and Pin. The Guru had to play the dual role of a Mir (an army leader) and a Fir (a Guru). The combining of Miri and Pin in his person introduced a new development in the Sikh movement by Guru Hargobind and it was fraught with great possibilities for the future.

The Guru desired the Sikhs to bring arms and horses as part of their offerings. This was readily done and some of them personallyjoined the Guru’s retinue. According to Dabistan : The Guru had seven hundred horses in his stables, three hundred cavaliers and sixty artillery men were always in his service.2 This was the first corps of Sikh volunteers raised by the Guru at Amritsar. The first five hundred enlisted by the Guru were divided into five troops of one hundred each. These troops were captained by Bidhi Chand, Pirana, Jetha, Piara and Langaha.3 The establishment of the Guru increased gradually and the number of volunteers rose to 2,500. They were always ready to lay down their lives for the Guru’s cause. The Guru had also a regiment of Pathans under the command of Painde Khan. It may be correct that the bulk Of the personnel of the Guru’s Pathan regiment consisted of those people who had deserted the Mughal army for not getting their salaries regularly. But it is incorrect to say that the Guru had recruited the worst criminals and high-waymen, ‘and the free booters and dacoits had entered freely into his ranks and made him the centre of a turbulent and dangerous crowd.4 Indubhusan Banerjee and Gokal Chand Narang wrongly believe that the prospects of booty and plunder had attracted the roughs of the society to join Guru Hargobind’s forces, Excepting Bidhi Chand no other man is known to history with questionable antecedents. But Bidhi Chand too had come into the fold of Sikhism during the period of Guru Arjun. He had completely renounced his old practices and under the teachings of the Gurus had become a very responsible citizen and ended his days as a devout and saintly follower of the Guru.

Two Masands of Kabul; Bakht Ma! and Tara Chand, were bringing two horses of surprassing beauty and fleetness’ for the Guru. But they were seized by the Mughal officials at Lahore and sent to the Emperor’s stable there. Bidhi Chand was able to deliver the horses to their rightful owner to whose stable they were being brought. If this action ofBidhi Chand has led some writers to remark that the Guru had recruited robbers in his army, the very approach of such writers is not historical and they suffer from some prejudiced outlook.

In order to give a martial disposition to his followers Guru Hargobind, accompanied by a large number of forest beaters, hounds and tamed leopards spent quite some time in the chase of the game. The Sikhs of the old school had in the beginning some misgivings about the Guru’s new programmes and practices. But later when the Guru enlightened them about the usefulness of such exercises for inspiring the Sikhs with courage and intrepidity, they submitted to$he Guru’s way of thinking. Some writers wrongly believe that the Guru recommended animal diet to his followers. Had it been so, meat would have been introduced in the langar, the free community mess of the Sikhs. It has never been there right from Guru Nanak’s time to the present day. The Guru started hunting wild animals not with a view to procuring meat for eating purposes but exclusively with a view to instilling and provoking the fighting spirit in them.

The Guru is said to have constructed a wall around the city of Amritsar. A fort named Lohgarh was built in the town as a measure of security in the event of an attack on the Sikhs. The Guru also built the Akal Bunga (Akal Takht) where he used to discuss secular matters with his Sikhs. The detailed account of the Akal Takht would follow in the following pages.


All these measures of Guru Hargobind found disfavour with the Government. The Guru was not exclusively a militarist. He was primarily a man of God, a Guru, a teacher and a missionary of his faith. For adopting new practices the Guru gave a very convincing explanation to the Maratha saint Samrath Ram Das at Srinagar in Garhwal. Guru Hargobind was on his way to Nanakmata when the saint Ram Das met him at Srinagar in Garhwal during his pilgrimage rambles towards Badri Narayan, etc. Ram Das was surprised to see Guru Hargobind armed and riding a horse accompanied by a large number of followers. The old traditionalist Sadhu could not reconcile the two seemingly opposite aspects of Guru Hargobind’s life-a saint and a soldier. He asked the Guru : I had heard that you occupy the Gaddi of Guru Nanak. Nanak was a tyagi Sadhu-a saint who had renounced the world. You are wearing arms and keeping an army and horses. You allow yourself to be called Sacha Pads hah-a True King. What sort of a Sadhu are you? Guru Hargobind replied: (I am) internally a hermit and exiernally a prince. Arms mean protection for the poor and the helpless and destruction for the tyrant. Guru Nanak had not renounced the world but had renounced maya, the self and ego. Samrath Ram Das was pleased to hear this and said : This appeals to my mind.5 It is said that Saint Ram Das told Guru Hargobind in his parting words that the Guru already had got the right type of instruction and advice from the great master Nanak and that he needed none from him. In fact Saint Ram Das himself seems to have been inspired by what he saw in the Sikh camp of Guru Hargobind and this was helpful in initiating the great Maratha leader Shiva Ji into a life of national upliftment. On his departure Ram Das presented to the Guru a piece of ochre-coloured cloth and a rosary as parting gifts.

The earlier practice of charan-pahul (touching the baptismal water with the toe of the Guru’s foot) continued up to Guru Arjun’s time. The Masands had also been authorised to prepare charan-pahul and administer the same to the Sikhs. Thus the Masands continued enjoying the privilege of baptising the new Sikhs. Through this privilege the Masands established their authority and superiority over other Sikhs. Guru Hargobirid made an improvement on this practice by authorising a body of five Sikhs to preparepahul (baptism) by touching the water with their right hand thumbs and sanctifiing the same by recitation of the scriptures. This new practice continued up to AD. 1699 when the baptism of the double-edged sword was prepared by Guru Gobind Singh and administered to the Sikhs.6 This improvement introduced by Guru Hargobind weakened, to a certain extent, the Masand’s authority which they were liable to misuse.

According to Maubid (Mohsin Fani) the Sikhs called the Guru Sacha Padshah, the True King,7 as against the temporal king who ruled only by the force of arms and concerned himself with the worldly actions of the people. The use of the term Sacha Padshah for the Guru was exploited by the detractors of the Guru. They conveyed to the Emperor that the title of Padshah was the exclusive privilege of the Mughal King and by allowing the Sikhs to use the same for him Guru Hargobind had assumed the royal title. But actually the Guru was not undertaking any imperial authority or royal powers and was not at all interfering with the state affairs. The Guru never asked the Sikhs to withdraw their allegiance from the state or to show disregard to the authority and the law of the Mughal Government.

According to Cunningham Sacha Padshah or True King is the spiritual king or the Guru who rules the eternal soul or guides it to salvation, while a temporal monarch controls our finite faculties only or puts restraints upon the play of our passions and the enjoyment of our senses. The Muhammadans have the same idea and a corresponding term viz. Malik Hakiki.8

Guru Hargobind introduced congregational prayers which added fervour in the minds of the Sikhs and strengthened feelings of unity and cooperation among them. Under him was also established the custom, which still continues, of choirs moving nightly round the Golden Temple and, with the blare of trumpets and flare of torches, singing hymns in stirring tunes. All these programmes put a new life into the drooping hearts of the Sikhs.9

The Sikh Sangats took upon themselves the financial and defence requirements of the Guru. Undoubtedly the Guru had no political objectives to achieve and the militant character added to the Sikh movements was purely a measure of self-defence.

Evidently the Mughal Emperor was a little alarmed at these measures of the Guru and summoned him to his ppesence. The Guru went and he was made a state prisoner ai~d sent to Gwalior. For the detention of the Guru different re~asons have been advanced by the writers. According to Dab istan, after Guru Hargobind sat on the Gurugaddi in place of his father, he was confronted with many hardships, ’4One of them is this that he adopted the form of a soldier, against the practice of his father, kept servants and took to hunting. The late Emperor (Jahangir) sent Hargobind to the fort of Gwalior on account of the balance of the dues of the fine that he had imposed on Arjun Mal. He remained for twelve years in that place, where they did not allow that he might eat salty food. During this time the Masands and the Sikhs used to go and bow down before the walls of the fort. At last the Emperor, by way of kindness, gave freedom to the Guru.° No doubt the author of Dabistan was contemporaneous with Guru Hargobind and he also claims to have been in correspondence with the Guru, but he has committed many mistakes in this small paragraph, may be unintentionally and due to the inconect~ and inadequate source of information on which he based his writing. The Guru is said to have been detained in Gwalior because he failed to pay the fine imposed on his father. It is not acceptable on the ground that no such fine was ever imposed on Guru Arjun. Even if we accept that Guru Arjun suffered death because he could not pay the fine, there can be no legal justification for transferring to the son the father’s punishment that the latter had already undergone and had cost him his life.

The period of the Guru’s stay at Gwalior in the prison is stated by Dabistan to be twelve years which is impossible on the very face of it as during these years several children of the Guru were born. The Guru could not have been in jail for more than two years. It is said that on the intercession of a renowned Muslim Saint, Mian Mir and a prominent courtier, Wazir Khan the Guru was released from the jail with 52 other detenues as the Guru refused to come along out of the jail until they were also released. For this, the Guru is remembered as Bandichhor or Deliverer. The very fact that the Guru was released from thejail shows that the Mughal Emperor and his government were convinced that the Guru had no territorial ambitions or aggressive designs against the Mughal Government. The Guru might have been in detention from 1610 to 1612. So Jahangir, who died in 1627, had nothing to complain against Guru Hargobind between 1612 and 1627 and the Guru and the Emperor remained on very cordial terms during this period. It is absurd to say that the Guru accepted an office under Jahangir.

The Guru then busied himself in the work of preaching. He went as far as Kashmir in the north and Nanakmata near Pilibhit, in the east. He converted many people to his faith from among Hindus as well as Muslims. The Guru met Shah Daula at Gujrat, who asked the Guru, How can a Hindu be a faqir? How can you be a religious man, when you have a wife and children and possess worldly wealth? The Guru replied, A wife is her man’s conscience, his children continue his memoi5′ and wealth gives him his sustenance. As for a faqir, he is neither a Hindu nor a Mussalman.4

After Jahangir’s death in 1627, Shah Jehan succeeded him. The new Emperor of Delhi changed his policy towards the non-Muslims and under his orders many temples were pulled down. He also prohibited conversions. The Baoli at Lahore got dug up by Guru Arjun was filled up. The relations between the Sikhs and the government got strained and only a slight cause could spark off a clash.

In 1628 just over a hawk a clash took place between the Sikhs and the royal contingent. Some believe that the hawk affair was a mere pretext. The point of self-respect and the new surging spirit were involved in it. Then a detachment of troops under Mukhlis Khan came from Lahore to take action against the Guru. Mukhlis Khan was killed and his troops were beaten back by the Sikhs. The Guru thought it proper to leave Amritsar and he came to Lahira in the Malwa region. A battle was fought at Lahira in 1631 between the Government forces and the Guru’s followers because of a couple of horses. The Guru’s men emerged victorious. Another skirmish was fought between the rival parties at Kartarpur in 1634. The imperial contingent was led against the Guru by Painde Khan, an old protege of the Guru. Painde Khan was killed at the hands of the Guru and his followers went back to Lahore without achieving anything against the Guru. According to Teja Singh and Gand~ Singh Guru Hargobind had won four battles, but as his purpose had always been only defensive, he did not acquire even an inch of territory as a result of these. There was something for greater involved in this warfare than a mere dispute over hawk or a horse. A new heroism was rising in the land, of which the object, then dimly seen, was to create the will to resist the mighty power of the foreign aggressors called the ‘Toorks’)’

To keep fighting against the Mughal government was not of the Guru’s liking. Shortly after the battle of Kartarpur he retired to Kiratpur. He spent the last ten years of his life in peace there and completely devoted himself to the work of his religious ministry.

Besides Gurdwaras and temples, Guru Hargobind also built a mosque for the Muslims at Kiratpur. Many Muslims were very close to the Guru. They included Mian Mir, a Muslim Fir and Wazir Khan, a Muslim noble. Wazir Khan was a strong advocate of the Guru’s cause. According to Macauliffe, Emperor Shah Jehan was astonished and inquired why the Guru had constructed a mosque. Wazir Khan promptly answered, Sire, Gurus and Pirs are all men’s property. They feel neither love nor hate. The Guru sitteth on Guru Nanak’s throne. His is the abode of miracles. He looketh on Hindu and Muhammadans with an equal eye.2

Guru Hargobind’s death on March 3, 1644 was considered to be a great national calamity. The love of his followers could be judged from the fact that many of them offered to burn themselves on his pyre. Two of them flung themselves on the flames and died at the Guru’s feet. Others who were ready to follow the example were forbidden by Guru Har Rai.’3

Before Guru Hargobind’s accession to the gaddi, the Harimandir at Amritsar was the place where the Guru used to sit and give spiritual guidance to the Sikhs. At Harimandir, the Sikhs sang hymns in praise of God and.the True Name was worshipped there. But with Guru Arjun’s martyrdom and under the changed circumstances the dire need of such a place was felt where the Sikhs should assemble in the presence of the Guru and discuss their secular affairs. Since they were faced with an intolerant and oppressive government they required a place where they should be able to hold deliberations for their self-preservation. The Harimandir could not be used for that purpose. So, the Guru ordered, in AD. 1609, the construction of a place at a distance of about one hundred yards from the Harimandir. The place was named Akal Bunga (the House of the Lord). According to Gun Bilas Padshahi Chhevin the foundation laying~ceremony of Akal Takht was performed by Bhai Budha and Bhai Gurdas, two most revered Sikhs at the Guru’s Durbar.

It seems that at the time of the excavation ofHarimandir a big heap of earth had piled on one side. That earth was levelled from above and a pacca floor was laid. A big raised plateform of bricks was constructed to serve as a seat for the Guru. And later a big hall was constructed on that site.

In the 18th century, the Sikh Sardars gave it a better shape. And Ranjit Singh contributed largely to its present edifice.

There Guru Hargobind used to discuss the social and military problems of the Sikh community. Sitting on this ‘throne’, he would watch the wrestling bouts and military feats of his disciples performed in the open courtyard in front of the Akal Takht. It was here that the Guru also used to receive the presents and offerings of weapons and horses from his followers and particularly from Masands who brought the same from their respective San gats for the Guru. It was also here that the Sikhs presented their personal disputes before the Guru and got them settled. Thus the Sifts were encouraged to have their disputes decided among themselves.

At Akal Takht the Guru held symposiums of martial music and the heroic deeds of historical personalities were narrated and the same were also sung to the people assembled there.

According to Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, Jahangir paid a visit to Arnritsar and offered to complete the building of Akal Takht at his own expense. The Guru however, declined the offer, saying, Let me and my Sifts raise this Throne of God with the labour of our own little resources. I wish to make it a symbol of my Sift’s service and sacrifice and not a monument to a King’s generosity.4

Some people believe that there is great significance in Akal Takht being constructed a few paces away from Harimandir. Akal Takht symbolised Sikh politics while Harimandir signified religion. Each of the two is visible from the other end so that people sitting in Harimandir would remember their involvement in politics and vice versa. Religion and politics were thus blended into one by Guru Hargobind. They were considered limbs of the same body.5 It is also said that the Guru told his Sikhs that as long as he was in Harimandir, he should be treated as a saint, and when in the Akal Takht he should be looked upon as a temporal leader of the community.

The Muslim forces of the foreign invaders and of the Mughal Government ruined Akal Takht many a time as in the case of Harimandir Sahib. The first storey of the present building was constructed in A.D. 1774 during the period of the Sikh Misals. The three upper storeys were constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the domes covered with gilded plates were also built by Ranjit Singh.

During the 18th century, particularly during the difficult days of the Sikhs, Akal Takht continued to be the venue of the meetings of the Sarbat Khalsa. Ordinarily they proposed to meet at Akal Takht twice a year during the Baisakhi and Diwali festivals which were the opportune times for such meetings when the agriculturists were free to come to the Akal Takht. On the occasions of fairs and festivals at Harimandir and Akal Takht, there assembled big congregations that availed themselves of their pilgrimages to discuss the problems that confronted the community. On other occasions also, they would meet as and when some urgent matter of political importance had to be discussed or some imminent danger threatened the country or any larger expedition was to be undertaken. When Tara Singh Van was killed in 1726 along with his companions, the Sifts met at Akal Takht and decided to assert themselves to make the government machinery inactive and inoperative.

Generally the assemblage at Akal Takht was in proportion to the magnitude of the danger facing the Sikhs. The assembly sessions of the Sarbat Khalsa were convened by the leaders of the community to pass Gurmatas. According to John Malcolm, When the chiefs meet upon this solemn occasion, it is concluded that all private animosities cease and that every man sacrifices his personal feelings at the shrine of general good and actuated by the principles of pure patriotism thinks of nothing but the interests of the religion and commonwealth to which he belongs.16

Thus sitting in front of the Guru Granth Sahib at Akal Takht, they proceeded to consider the danger with which they were threatened. They settled their plans and strategy for averting the danger and chose the generals who were to lead their armies against the enemy.

As the Sikh Sardars held Akal Takht in high esteem the decisions taken there had a moral and religious binding on them. The Sardars could not, therefore, afford to go against the decisions taken at Akal Takht, and run the risk of losing their popularity with the community. Though the Sardars, at times, quarrelled among themselves, all was peace and friendship when they met at Akal Takht.

At the time of their meeting, they assembled in the open space in front of Akal Takht. Each Sardar had his companions sitting behind him and he participated in the deliberations on behalf of his men. If the followers had any point to make, they did it through their Sardar or they could do it direct. It was not Sardars’ assembly nor where the deliberations of the national problems the monopoly of the chiefs. But it was a gathering of the community. According to Fauja Singh, in the assembly at Akal Takht the basic ideas kept before them by its members were those of equality, unanimity and responsibility. The idea of equality entitled every member of the community, including women, to attend and participate in the discussions. The right of participation in discussions had to be exercised personally and directly and not through elected or nominated representatives. The principle of unanimity was based on the belief that the Khalsa was the embodiment of the Holy Guru and that all their assemblies were made Sanctimonious by the Guru’s presence in them. Therefore, all collective deliberations were conducted in a detached manner. Different view-points could be expressed but as they were bound by a solemn pledge of being united in the presence of the Guru, the resolutions were passed unanimously.’7

The councils of the Sarbat Khalsa meeting at Akal Takht had a variety of problems for their deliberations. It was there that the Sarbat Khalsa elected the Jathedar or the chief leader of the Dal Khalsa. They also chose agents who were entrusted with powers to negotiate with others on behalf of the Sikh community. By the Gunmata the Sikh Sardars also decided the foreign policy to be pursued by them. It was in the meetings at Akal Takht that the Sikhs drew up plans of military operations against the enemies of the community. They also took up the private feuds of the Sift chiefs at Akal Takht. Sometimes cases of disputed successions were brought up before the Diet for its verdict as ajudicial body. They also took measures for the spread of the Sikh faith and the management of the Gurdwaras. Throughout the 18th century, Akal Takht was the hub of the Sikh politics and it gave direction to the activities of the community through of Gurmatas passed there.

The assembly of the Sikh chiefs at Akal Takht could not be called the Central Government of the Sikh Misals. This assembly had no political jurisdiction or military sanction over the individual chiefs, nor was it necessary. Their attendance as not compulsory but the chiefs considered it obligatory to attend specially with a view to promoting their own interests. Although there existed no means to enforce an obedience to the Gurmata passed at Akal Takht yet there was never an occasion known to history when such a decision was flouted. The decisions taken in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib had behind them religious sanction which was greater in force than that of a military dictator. The Sifts obeyed the decisions of Akal Takht even at the cost of their lives. They believed that the decisions taken there had the spiritual sanction of the Guru.’8 The simple practice and moral authority of the Akal Takht were sufficient to preserve the Khalsa in the troublous times in the 18th century.

When the situation on all fronts eased, the Sikh chiefs became a little indifferent to attend the meetings of the Sarbat Khalsa at Akal Takht. Now their meetings were attended only by a few chiefs. But the absentees never meant any opposition to such meetings or any resistance to decisions taken there. Being busy in their internal affairs, the Sardars, sometimes,just could not attend. There were absolutely no such thing as intentional breaking away of the Sardars from Akal Takht with a calculated design to weaken this seat of authority. The real fact was that with the rise of Ranjit Singh as a sovereign ruler, the Punjab came to be consolidated and the foreign invaders ceased to endanger the country and the community. So during Ranjit Singh’s period the rule of Akal Takht fell into disuse so far as political affairs were concerned. No body could be above the decisions taken at this place, not even the great Maharaja. Was the authority of Akal Takht so strong as to dictate terms to the Maharaja and subdue him whenever they felt like doing so or he just accepted the verdict of Akal Takht out of grace and humility ? The predominant opinion about it is that Ranjit Singh paid his homage to Akal Takht not simply as a force which he dould not afford to ignore of control but as the ultimate source of strength and stability to the state he was engaged to build.

Almost all the Muslim and English historians have failed to note the distinction between the respective functions of Harimandir and Akal Takht. They have always taken Akal Takht as a part of Harimandir or its annexe. Khushwaqat Rai has noticed the difference while writing about Jaswant Rao Holkar’s visit to Amritsar. According to him, Holkar made an offering of a sum of rupees five hundred each to Harimandir and Akal Takht. He was given a saropa (robe of honour) at Harimandir and a sword at Akal Takht. This clearly indicates the characters of the two places lying opposite to each other. Harmandir had been set up exclusively for spiritual matters and Akal Takht primarily for secular matters.

In one of the rooms of the Akal Takht are preserved some of the weapons of the Gurus and their prominent warriors. The arms include the Mini and Pin swords of Guru Hargobind, a sword of Guru Gobind Singh, daggers of Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Sahibzada Jhujhar Singh, Bachittar Singh’s sword (weighing ten kilos), the doubleedged swords of Baba Deep Singh and Gurbakhsh Singh and Guru Gobind Singh’s two gold-tipped arrows. The holy relics of Guru Gobind Singh brought from England-two spears, one sword and one shield-are also kept at Akal Takht and displayed on a beautifully decorated mount.

As in the past; so even today, Akal Takht is used as a venue for political and secular deliberations of the Sikh community. The sacrosanct character of the decisions taken there has remained unchanged over the centuries ever since its establishment by Guru Hargobind.

List of Artifacts Contained at the Akal Takhat

Sri Sahibs (swords) of Guru Hargobind Sahib that represented Miri and Piri
Sri Sahib (sword) of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Sri Sahib (sword) of Baba Buddha Ji
Sri Sahib (sword) of Bhai Jaetha Ji
Sri Sahib Baba Karam Singh Ji Shaheed
Sri Sahib Bhai Uday Singh Ji, who was with Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Sri Sahib Bhai Bidhi Chand Ji
Dudhara Khanda (double-edged sword) of Baba Gurbakash Singh Ji Shaheed
Dudhara Khanda (double-edged sword) of Baba Deep Singh Ji
Dudhara Khanda of Baba Nodh Singh Ji Shaheed
Khadag Bhai Vachitar Singh Ji which weighed 10 Saer
Guru Hargobinds Sahib’s “Guraj” weighing 16 saer. It was given to Dharamvir Jassa Singh by Matta Sundari
A sword like weapon belonging to Guru Hargobind Sahib Guru Hargobind Sahib’s Katar
Baba Ajit Singh’s Katar
Baba Jujhar Singh’s Katar
Guru Hargobind Sahib’s kirpan
Guru Hargobind’s Paeshkabaj
Baba Deep Singh’s Paeshkabaj
A sword like weapon of Baba Deep Singh Ji Shaheed
Pistol of Baba Deep Singh Ji Shaheed
Two arrows of Guru Gobind Singh each cxontaining one Toala of gold
Medium sized Khanda of Baba Deep Singh Ji
Two kirpans of Baba Deep Singh Ji
Two small Khandas of Baba Deep Singh Ji
Chakar Of Baba Deep Singh Ji
Small Chakar of Baba Deep Singh Ji
Baba Deep Singh Ji’s chakar for head decoration