El Sobrante Gurdwara Sahib
El Sobrante Gurdwara Sahib, situated high on a hillside wth a commanding view of the San Francisco, the San Francisco Bay and the San Pablo Bay.
About twenty miles north of Oakland and Berkeley and San Francisco another few miles across the Historic Bay Bridge, El Sobrante Gurdwara Shaib is located at the hilltop of the El Sobrante Valley hills. Serving the Sikh community in the Bay Area it is also known as the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Gurdwara was built in late 1970s.
Previously local Sikhs usually carried out their religious ceremonies in their homes; however, as more and more Sikhs immigrated to the Bay Area, the Sikh community decided that a Sikh Temple was necessary to serve local Sikhs in terms of carrying out general ceremonies such as weddings and Akhand Path ceremonies, etc.
Situated almost at the top of a steep hill with a driveway that ladder backs several times because of the steep incline, its architecture and uniqueness attracts many people (I-80, one of the main arteries between the Bay area and the State's capital in Sacramento passes by the hillside) to come and see the site. At the northeast wing of its second floor, a huge deck offers a breath taking view of the El Sobrante valley and San Pablo Bay.
Near San Francisco and at the north end of Berkeley Hills tucked in the low hills of the El Sobrante Valley you can find the most magnificent Gurdwara Sahib of North America. The gold domed Gurdwara Sahib and the fluttering saffron Nishan Sahib can be seen from all over the valley and in particular driving on Interstate 80 and Richmond Parkway.
Perched half way up the hill and given its unique architecture, the Gurudwara Sahib not only attracts many visitors but also had been the home for many wedding ceremonies for couples as far away as Hongkong. Large darbar hall windows and the surrounding huge deck on the north side offers a breathtaking view of the El Sobrante Valley and San Pablo Bay. In summer when fog rolls in over the low hills into the valley and in the winter when low clouds move in, it is the most beautiful sight.
It was around the mid-1960s that a few Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area started discussing their vision of establishing a gurudwara in their area, a vision that gave birth to an organization called The Sikh Center of San Francisco Bay Area, with its headquarters in Berkeley. In the year 1976, approximately 5 acres of a hillside in El Sobrante were purchased to house the envisioned gurudwara.
The access road and the parking lots were completed in 1977, marked with a Nishan Sahib installation. The first phase of the building was completed in May 1979. The present langar hall was used for prayer services and the present lobby, for serving langar. The building as seen today was completed in June 1992, becoming one of the most magnificent gurudwara in the North America. Courtesy of (http://www.sfsikhcenter.org/)
This writer first visited there in the late 1990s. My wife and I had purchased several books on Sikh History and a Punjabi dictionary and asking if there was any Gurdwara nearby, we were told by the owner of the store Bazaar of India Imports of her Gurdwara and asked us to look up Harpreet Singh Sandu. She said he should be getting there about the same time we would be able to get there. The freeway up from Berkeley is almost always packed in each of its three or four (five?) lanes and as it was nearing rush hour when the traffic all but grinds to a halt we thought it would be a good place to stop and get off the road 'till the traffic slowed. Getting to the bottom of the drive way it seemed like it went straight up the steep hill, I was glad that my wife was behind the wheel. She spent years living around the area and the hills present no challenge to her. It always takes me a few days before I can get used to the steep inclines of California Street or Jones Street in San Francisco.
Anyway we never got to meet Mr. Sing, who didn't show by the time we had to leave, but the warm welcome, the Langar and the two Karas that we were given from a chest in the Darbar Sahib are treasured memories of the visit. Whenever we get back we try to climb the hill and I've even managed to drive up and down it myself once or twice. If we don't have time we always enjoy catching sight of the Shining Golden domes on our ride to the airport, for our journey back to Atlanta, as the light of the setting sun reflects off them as it sinks in the west.
From the Tribune India
Sunday, October 15, 2006
- Ramesh and Asha Seth visit the magnificent El Sobrante gurdwara in California
- One is unlikely to miss the beautiful El Sobrante gurdwara perched half way up a hill.
- Out of more than 130 gurdwaras that we visited in America and Canada, the most beautiful location was that of the El Sobrante gurdwara. Standing on its verandah, one can see the main street below, snaking its way through the town, and the valley beyond the street. Further, you see the open sea, with all the sea-going traffic. When the clouds come rolling over the valley and the low hills beyond, it is difficult to recall a more beautiful sight. It is difficult to tear oneself away from such a heavenly view.
- It is a pity that El Sobrante is not on the itinerary of the Indian tourists. Everyone had waxed eloquent about the beauty of El Sobrante. The first sight of the gurdwara from the main street, and of the fluttering saffron flag on the Nishan Sahib, appeared to bear that out.
- El Sobrante is a small dormitory town, tucked in the low hills that abound in the North Californian seacoast. It is near San Francisco on the one side and San Jose on the other. People live here but work in other places in the entire Silicon Valley. It is a one-street town. The main road runs through the length of the town, with hills on one side and the valley on the other.
- Perched half way up the hill, in the very centre of the town, is the El Sobrante gurdwara. The prominent gurdwara building and the tall Nishan Sahib with a fluttering saffron flag with the sign of the Khanda on it makes an emphatic statement of the Sikh presence in this small town. Unlike in most other towns where the gurdwaras can be missed, in El Sobrante no one can miss it. This house of Nanak can be seen from everywhere.
- From the main road a small motor road rises very steeply up the hill to reach the gurdwara. As we subsequently experienced, one round trip on foot from gurdwara to the main-street and back gave a person enough exercise for the day. The very steep walk, uphill to the gurdwara, leads to panting and gasping for the breath. Since the weather was balmy, walking was a pleasurable pastime. Therefore, we religiously did that round trip once a day. Some days we did two round trips as well. It was a big fun, despite the exercise involved.
- 3550 Hillcrest Road, El Sobrante, California 94803 USA
- Ph# (510) 223-9987
- Email Us at: [email protected]
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Article compiled by user:Allenwalla