Historical Gurdwaras in India



1) Gurdwara Bhai Daya Singh - Aurangabad, a district town in Maharashtra, is a railway station on the Manmad-Kacheguda section of South Central Railway. Emperor Aurangzeb had his headquarters here when he came down to the Deccan in 1681 to quell the Maratha rebellion. When Bhai Daya Singh and Dharam Singh were sent by Guru Gobind Singh with the Zafarnama to be delivered to Aurangzeb, they first arrived at Aurangabad, but, finding that the emperor had shifted to Ahmadnagar, they went thither. There, too, they found it impossible to meet the emperor because nobody would let them approach him. So they came back to Aurangabad, and while Bhai Dharam Singh returned to Punjab to report to the Guru and seek his advice, Bhai Daya Singh stayed with a Sikh here waiting for his colleague's return. Meanwhile, he established contact with some influential Mughal officials through whom he succeeded to deliver the Zafarnama to Aurangzeb. The house were he lived in Aurangabad became a meeting place of other Sikhs, too, who formed a sangat, which later developed into a Gurdwara. Situated in Dhami Mohall, it is still called Gurdwara Bhai Daya Singh and is regularly attended and maintained by the small Sikh population of the place. In fact the Gurdwara is running a residential school for young boys in scripture-reading, kirtan and Sikh way of living.


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.

1) Takht Sach Khand Sri Hazur Sahib Abichalnaga
r - is the principal shrine at Nanded. It marks the site where the Guru had his camp after the departure of the emperor Bahdur Shah. He held his court and congregation here. His own tent where he was stabbed and where after a few days came his end, was close by. The pyre on which he was cremated was also near here. As if had prescience of the end, the Guru had dispatched Banda Singh with five of his Sikhs to Punjab and Mata Sahib Devan under a separate escort to Delhi before the stabbing incident. Now 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 Guru used to sit while holding his court and installed Guru Granth Sahib in it. They called it Takht Sahib Guru Gobind Singh, while conferring Guruship on the Holy Book, had himself named Nanded as Abichalnagar (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 Takht 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 Punjabi Sikhs as part of his army. Most of these men settled permanently in the State. These were the ancestors of present Dakkhani Sikhs. The control of Takht Sach Khand Sri Hazur Sahib, which had formerly passed into the hands of Udasi priests, was regained by Dakkhani Sikhs under the influence of the Singh Sabha Movement of the late nineteenth century, but some of the old rituals and ceremonies are still peculiar to this Takht Sahib. In 1956 an Act was passed by the legislature of Hyderabad under which the management of Takht Sahib and other historical Gurdwaras was legally placed under a 17 member Gurdwara Board and a five-member managing committee. The building compelx of the Takht Sahib about two furlongs from the left bank of the River Godavari is spread over several acres. Besides the Takht Sahib proper it also includes two other shrines, Bunga Mai Bhago Ji comprising a large room where Guru Granth Sahib is seated and some old 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 offices of the Gurdwara Board besides a press and publishing house and a school for scripture-reading and kirtan. The two-storey building of the Takht Sahib proper standing on a high base has a small square room on the second floor bearing the gilded ribbed dome topped with a tall gilded pinnacle and umbrerlla-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 Gurdwaras. Here some old weapons and other relics are placed on a marbled platform. They include steel quoits, a broad sword, a few swords and a mace. Guru Granth Sahib is seated in the room in font of the sanctum from early morning to late evening and is placed in the sanctum only during the night. Among the gurpurbs observed at the Takht Sahib, the biggest functions of the year are Dussehra in October and Hola Mahalla in March.

2) Gurdwara Nagina Ghat Sahib - is on the river bank, about two furlongs southwest of Takht Sahib. According to tradition, Guru Gobind Singh attended by some Sikhs was standing here watching the river flow when a rich merchant, proud of his wealth, came and presented a costly nagina (precious stone usually for inset work in gold) to the Guru, who took it and casually threw it in the river. The merchant bore a look as if pitying the Guru who, thought he, despite his princely style was after all a Sadhu who did not know the value of his present. Guru Gobind Singh read his thought and bade him to look down into the current. What he saw, filled the merchant both with wonder as well as remorse at his evil thoughts about the Guru. He saw millions of jewels lying at the river-bed. Purged of pride, he fell at the Guru's feet. The present building standing on a high plinth comprises a square hall in which Guru Granth Sahib is seated on a canopied palaki of white marble, and a smaller square room topped by a dome on the first floor.

3) Gurdwara Baba Banda Bahadur Ghat
- about two furlongs upstream from Nagina Ghat is the spot where Madho Das, a hot headed and headstrong Bairagi sadhu, had his abode. Guru Gobind Singh had heard about him from Mahant Jait Ram of Dadu Dwara. His original name was Lachhman Das. He was a native of Rajauri in Jammu and Kashmir. A Rajput by birth, he had been trained in the martial arts and had been fond of hunting. A chance killing of a pregnant doe at his hands transformed him first into a remorseful sinner in search of redemption, and later, after having acquired some occult powers through austerities and single-minded devotion to learning of such arts, into an arrogant recluse impatient with lesser mortals. Guru Gobind Singh, within a few days of his arrival at Nanded came to see him here, according to Bhatt Vahi sources on 3rd September 1708. Madho Das was not in his hermitage then, and the Guru decided to wait for him. It is said that in order to test the bairagi's mettle, the Guru deliberately provoked him by having some of the former's goats slaughtered by the Sikhs. This naturally put Madho Das besides himself with anger as he returned to his hermitage and found the trespass and the sacrilege, and he at once involved his occult powers to bring the trespasser to his knees, but finding them ineffective, he himself took little time to realize and acknowledge the spiritual superiority of the Guru, at whose feet he at once surrendered himself. The chroniclers narrate their brief introductory conversation thus:
The Guru : "who are you?"
Madho Das : "I am a Banda (lit. man as well as a slave)."
The Guru : "whose banda?"
Madho Das : "Yours, my Lord."
The Guru blessed him and raised him to his feet. He later administered Khande di Pahul to Madho Das and renamed him Banda Singh (Gurbakhsh Singh according to some sources, but the name Banda stuck and he is known to historians by his popular name as Banda Bahadur or Banda Singh Bahadur). During the next four weeks, the Guru instructed him in the essentials of Sikh faith, assessed his potential as a leader and briefed him about impending mission; and a few days before the stabbing incident, Banda Singh was on his way to Punjab accompanied by five Singhs whose counsel, the Guru commanded, he was to heed, although he would be the supreme commander in the impending campaign. Gurdwara Baba Banda Singh Ghat, or Gurdwara Banda Ghat for short, is housed in a single square room with a covered circumambulatory passage around it (Rebuilt since).

4) Gurdwara Hira Ghat Sahib - about nine kilometres downstream from Nanded is where Guru Gobind Singh first pitched his tents right on the Godavari bank. A legend similar to the one associated with Gurdwara Nagina Gaht Sahib is also related to this shrine. Here it was the emperor, Bahadur Shah, who presented to the Guru a hira (diamond) which the Guru flung into the river, and asked the offended emperor to look into the river, where the latter saw heaps of diamonds. The emperor was deeply impressed and he bowed to the Guru with humility.

5) Gurdwara Mata Sahib - half a kilometre downstream from Gurdwara Hira Ghat marks the site of Guru ka Langar supervised by Mata Sahib Devan while the Guru stayed at Gurdwara Hira Ghat. The tradition is kept alive still by serving mid-day meal to pilgrims going the round of various shrines singly or in batches traveling by bus, arranged by the Management Board of Takht Sahib. About 250 acres of land, partly arable, are attached to this Gurdwara. The Gurdwara and the land are managed by Nihang Singhs under the auspices of the Management Board.

6) Gurdwara Shikar Ghat Sahib -is a beautiful piece of architecture perched on a low hill about 1.5 furlongs from the river bank with higher wooded hills in the background. Its distance from Takht Sahib by road across a bridge built over the Godavari through kar-seva is about six kilometres. A legend is associated with this shrine, too. It is said that Guru Gobind Singh came here following the chase (shikar) and killed a hare which in a former birth had been Bhai Mula, a Skih contemporary of Guru Nanak Dev. Bhai Mula belonged to Sialkot (now in Pakistan). He had once accompanied Guru Nanak Dev during his travels, but when Guru Nanak Dev went to seem him on another occasion, Mula avoided the Guru and hid himself for fear that the Guru Nanak Dev went away, but Mula died soon after of remorse (or of snakebite, as some say). His repentant soul had since been wandering in different sub-human bodies until, so goes the legend, Guru Gobind Singh emancipated it by the touch of his arrow. The present building complex of Grudwara Shiakr Ghat Sahib was re-laid by Baba Jiwan Singh and Dalip Singh Kar-sevawale during the 1960s and early 1970s. The square sanctum, where Guru Granth Sahib is seated on a canopied throne of white marble, is in the middle of a square hall with walls covered with while marble slabs and ceiling with white glazed tiles. Above the hall, there is a dome over the sanctum, domed kiosks at the corners, and decorative domelets along the length of the walls. The entire exterior from the base upto the top of the dome is covered with white marble slabs. Even the pinnacle is of white marble.

7) Gurdwara Mal Tekari Sahib - dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev is northeast of Nanded and is linked to the Nanded-Akola road. Its road distance from Takht Sahib is about five kilometres. Guru Nanak Dev is said to have held religious discourse with a Muslim recluse Lakkar Shah at this spot called Mal Tilla or Chakri Mal. Lakkar Shah's grave is half a furlong away from the present Gurdwara. It is also said that Guru Gobind Singh discovered a hidden treasure here. It was taken to the site of the present Gurdwara Sangat Sahib in the town where the Guru distributed a part of it among his warriors and got the rest of it buried here again. The small Sikh shrine existing here was demolished in 1928 by some Muslim fanatics who claimed the place as theirs. The matter was taken to the Nizam of Hydrabad, who ordered a judicial enquiry, as a result of which the shrine was restored to the Sikhs in January 1930, and Gurdwara Mal Tekari Sahib was re-established. It comprises a single flat-roofed room with a circumambulatory verandah.

8) Gurdwara Sangat Sahib - is inside the old Nanded town. Its name suggests that a Sikh Sangat existed in Nanded since the time of Guru Nanak Dev's visit, or at least before the time of Guru Gobind Singh's stay here. There is a strong tradition that the treasure found at Mal Tekari was brought here for distribution among the three hundred odd warriors accompanying the Guru. It must have been a big heap of valuables because the disbursement was not in counted coins but a shieldful to each warrior, and still a part of it remained which the Guru got buried again near where it had been found. The shield with which it was dished out is still kept in this Grudwara as a sacred relic. There are three more Gurdwaras - Langar Sahib, Nanak Sar and Ratangarh Sahib - established during the twentieth century by Sant Nidhan Singh and his successors, but they cannot be said to be historical although efforts have been made to popularize legends connecting the latter two to the first and the tenth Guru respectively.

Other Historical Gurdwaras in India
Assam Karnataka
Bihar Madhya Pradesh
Delhi Orissa
Haryana Punjab
Himachal Pradesh Rajasthan
Jammu and Kashmir Uttar Pradesh
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